If you have around £50,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can have your pick of some very capable EV’s, so the BMW i4 needs to be on top of its game to top this class. So what makes it stand out from the crowd?
The first thing you notice is that the i4 shares its platform with the 4 Series Grand Coupe, and that means that BMW has had to leave room for stuff like a big internal combustion engine and a transmission tunnel whilst also increasing the height of the floor to fit the batteries in. It isn’t a great start as that means that rear seat room is a little snug in all directions. However that is pretty much the full list of shortcomings in the i4.
In all other areas the i4 excels. The rest of the cabin is excellent with good space in the front, very comfortable seats, a top class interior, and a big 470 litre boot accessed through a very practical and very large hatchback. Two big display screens look great but also work well with no lag and pin sharp graphics. Powered by the latest 8th generation operating system, the curved 12.3 inch information display and the 14.9 inch control display appear as a single frameless unit which looks great and is highly configurable.
The i4 also benefits from BMW’s latest 5th generation eDrive unit which is smaller and more efficient and is paired with the latest battery technology. The rear mounted synchronous motor kicks out 335 bhp and eliminates rear earth minerals whilst the entire production of the eDrive unit, the battery, and the remainder of the car takes place in factories powered entirely by renewable electricity. Any remaining carbon emissions are offset so that the whole production process is net carbon neutral.
Speaking of those new batteries they deliver an official range of 365 miles and can charge at up to 205 kW enabling a 10 – 80% charge in just 31 minutes at an Ultra Rapid charger. This combination means that few cars will get you from A to B quick than an i4. Impressively a 300 mile + range is achievable even at motorway speeds thanks to the efficient drive unit and a surprisingly slippery coefficient of drag (cd 0.24).
Impressive stuff, but what about the driving experience? Well, the i4 nails the brief. Firstly the driving position is perfect and has lots of adjustment, while the brake feel is the best in class. It has a very well sorted chassis which combines a slightly rear biased weight distribution with that torque dense rear mounted motor to brilliant effect. Impressively whilst body control is very good the ride quality is superb and this is key to the i4’s USP. The result is a car that can dispatch roads at serious pace, or can be adjustable and playful, or can settle in and deliver the executive car experience. In short no other car can deliver such a wide repertoire.
The i4 is so easy to recommend because it does so many things so well. It isn’t cheap but it fully justifies the price thanks to an excellent interior, impressive refinement, excellent range, 205 kW peak charge capability and one of the best driving experiences of any EV.
Estimated real world range: 280 – 365 miles
Official range: 365 miles
Official electricity consumption: 159 Wh/km
Battery pack: 83.9 kWh (gross); 80.7 kWh (net) lithium ion; 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty
Recharge time: 7 kW charge approx 13 hours; 11 kW charge approx 8 hours 15 minutes; Rapid CCS 50 kW approx 1 hour 10 mins (10 – 80%); Ultra Rapid CCS 205 kW 31 minutes (10 – 80%)
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over-estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.