BMW i4 edrive40 M Sport REVIEW

The BMW i4 40 does lots of things brilliantly, and it is that breadth of ability that makes it so easy to recommend. Of course we are also particularity keen on driver’s cars, and in this case the i4 delivers one of the best driving experiences of any EV.

  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
  • BMW i4
Green Car Guide Rating: 10/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:    BMW i4 eDrive40 M Sport
  • Fuel:    Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP):   365 miles (344 miles as tested)
  • Maximum ultra-rapid charging rate:  205 kW

Summary

  • It’s a driver’s car and it’s all-electric
  • Driver-focused and high-tech BMW interior
  • Class leading refinement
  • Long range and Ultra Rapid charging

BACKGROUND

The quirky i3 and the futuristic i8 put BMW firmly in the vanguard of EV motoring when they beamed down from planet future to be met with bemusement by the car buying public. Both are excellent, and benefited greatly from a blank piece of paper which allowed the engineers to use space age materials and in the case of the i3 deliver the TARDIS experience that only a bespoke EV can. And so we waited with bated breath for the next step on BMW’s EV journey. And we waited some more, and then nearly 10 years later the answer has arrived.

BMW i4BMW i4

DESIGN & ENGINEERING

BMW has spent those intervening years polishing the EV toolkit and thinking long and hard about how you make a great EV whilst also making money. The answer for BMW is bespoke EV platform when required (iX) and flexible platforms that can accommodate ICE and BEV when they think it makes sense. The i4 is an example of the latter as it shares its underpinnings with the conventionally-powered 4 Series Grand Coupe.

The concern with shared platforms is 1. you don’t get the packaging advantages of a skateboard platform because you still need space for an engine and everything that goes with it. 2. You can’t fit enough batteries in to get a sensible range. 3. the compromised design delivers the worst of all worlds and the BEV version feels like an irritation that the engineers had to deliver, but were never really convinced by.

However, if you think all this will apply to the i4, you are in for a very big surprise. Yes, the i4 does fall victim to some packaging compromises; there is no storage under the bonnet, the rear seats are a bit tight for taller adults, and there is still a ‘transmission’ tunnel that cuts through the middle of the cabin, but it also packs an 80.7 kWh (net) battery pack which delivers an official range of up to 365 miles, a perfect driving position, a premium cabin and a very usable boot accessed via a massive tailgate.

But will those compromises hobble the driving experience?

BMW i4BMW i4

BMW I4 40 M SPORT DRIVING EXPERIENCE

We could spin this out, but in short the i4 is a revelation. A quick glance at the kerb weight would suggest that enthusiastic driving will be greeted by a big shrug and quickly followed by an equally big hole in the nearest hedge, but the i4 excels.

It is clear within the first few metres that this car has had a series amount of time with some very experienced chassis engineers. From the moment that you sit in the driving seat, and yes we do mean ‘in’ and not ‘on’, you realise that this in an EV designed with the driver in mind. It is easy to find the perfect driving position and with ample adjustment of both seat and steering wheel you will quickly find a position that suits. And once there it all feels right.

The forward visibility is good, and with the big bonnet in your eye-line, placing the front end is easy. Feed in some steering and you are rewarded with a pleasingly linear response and good weighting. You can’t accuse the ‘rack of having genuine feel (we are yet to find an EPAS system that does) but it does allow you to place the car perfectly and does provide enough of an idea of what the front wheels are up to, to allow you to press on.

Of course that could lead you straight back to that hedge if it weren’t for a very well judged chassis set up which delivers an astonish mix of ride comfort, grip, balance and adjustability. If there is one thing that really sets the i4 apart, this is it. At road speeds understeer isn’t really an issue as the i4 splits its weight so effectively between the front and rear axle. Without the front motor of the M50 model, the rear drive i440 has a very slightly rearward weight distribution which leads to a beautifully neutral balance. Once there the motor is more than capable of gently over-rotating the rear wheels whilst the stability control will allow small angles of slip without panicking, but is always on hand to sort out any bigger issues. Of course you can turn the traction and stability control off but you don’t have to in order to enjoy the i4, which is the sign of a good system.

You might think that means the suspension is ‘sporting’ or rock hard as mere mortals call it. But no, it glides over poor surfaces like an executive limousine without inducing float over crests even in comfort setting. We suspect that the unusual choice of conventional springs on the front and air suspension on the rear as the standard suspension configuration is the key, but to its credit you would never know that there are two systems at work as they operate seamlessly.

When you aren’t attacking your favourite road you have more time to admire the cabin which is very well appointed. Front seat passengers are very well catered for and the combination of excellent perceived build quality, well chosen materials, and next generation display screens create a premium environment.

The combination of a 12.3 inch instrument cluster screen and a 14.9 inch control display integrated into a single curved unit looks great and works well too thanks to the adoption of OS 8 which delivers high definition displays with no perceivable lag. You still get to interact via the iDrive controller, voice or touch which generally makes the system one of the easier ones to use. The only niggles are that BMW has removed physical controls for the ventilation system (there are still buttons for screen demist and heated rear window) but temperature control is permanently displayed at the bottom of the control display, and despite having physical buttons for almost all of the key drive functions, you have to go through the display screen to turn off lane assist which is distracting if you forget to do it before setting off.

Other than that you may have some grumbles from taller rear seat passengers as the coupe roof line does impact headroom, and legroom is tighter than you might expect especially if the front seats are in one of the lower positions stopping them from getting their feet under. However they do get their own ventilation controls thanks to the standard three-zone climate system so if they do fit, they will be comfortable.

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BMW I4 M50 ELECTRIC RANGE AND CHARGING

The BMW i4 has an excellent official range of up to 365 miles. As tested in M Sport specification with M Sport Pro Pack 19 inch wheels, the official range is an equally impressive 345 miles. Over 800 miles of predominately motorway, dual carriageway and A road driving in cool weather we saw between 260 and 320 miles without focusing on efficiency. Based on this you can be confident that over 250 miles is achievable at constant UK motorway speed, 290 – 300 miles is doable with even slight restraint, and 345 miles is possible if you drive efficiently or you regularly drive in urban areas.

When you do need to stop, the i4 has a further ace card as it can accept ultra rapid charging at up to 205 kW. In optimum conditions that translates into up to 62 miles of range in 4 minutes, 101 miles in 10 minutes or 0 – 80% in 34 minutes. Of course you can also use 50 kW rapid chargers, it just takes longer. AC charging is taken care of via an 11 kW on-board charger which can tackle a 0-100% charge in a little over 8 hours if you have access to a 22 kW AC chargepoint, or at a more common 7 kW unit (including domestic) it will take around 12 hours.

How to charge an electric car

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PRICE AND MODEL RANGE

The BMW i4 is available in three different model variants from launch: the rear-wheel drive i4 eDrive40, in Sport (£51,905) and M Sport trim (£53,405), and the all-wheel drive i4 M50 (£63,905).

Our test car had options including Sanremo green metallic paint (£695), Visibility Pack (£1,500), Technology Plus Pack (£3,800), M Sport Pro Pack (£2,500), and Vernasca leather (£1,300), taking the total price to £63,120.

Benefit in Kind for company car tax drivers is just 2% for 2022/23.

The i440 has a 1,600kg trailer rating.

BMW i4BMW i4

Conclusion

The i4 proves that you can make an excellent EV without a skateboard platform. Some will point to the lack of under-bonnet storage, but the boot is big and easy to access and there are storage areas both underfloor and at the sides designed to securely store charging cables out of the way. Rear passenger space is slightly compromised by the retention of a ‘transmission’ tunnel and the slightly raised floor but in every other area the i4 excels.

It delivers an excellent official range with an equally impressive real-world performance which means that in any conditions you will have at least 250 miles and with some effort 300 miles + which makes it easy to live with. When combined with the ability to use ultra rapid chargers at up to 205 kW there are few EVs that will complete long journeys any quicker.

The i4 does command a premium price tag but absolutely justifies it both with the quality of the interior and with the depth of engineering which is immediately apparent. The combination of excellent range, strong performance, outstanding refinement, excellent ride comfort, and engaging handling are unmatched by any rival. As a result the i4 eDrive40 M Sport is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.

Car facts and figures BMW i4 edrive40 M Sport REVIEW

  • Test electric driving range: 260 – 320 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 172 kWh/100km
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):    £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2022/23): 2%
  • Price:    £53,405 (£63,120 as tested)
  • Insurance group:    TBC
  • Power:    340 hp
  • Torque:    430 Nm
  • Max speed:    118 mph
  • 0-62 mph:    5.7 seconds
  • Weight:    2125 kg

Review by:
Andrew Leadbetter,