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31 Mar 2022

What We Dislike
Older steering wheel
You don't get the full suite of driving assistance features available on some other BMW EVs

It's not perfect, but the BMW i4 is a wholly impressive electric sedan that delivers ample functionality, electric efficiency, and sporty dynamism.


This is it, then. The BMW i4. The all electric sport sedan that, I'm sure, BMW desperately wanted to call the i3, but that name has already been used.

The i4 was developed concurrently and shares the same body as the 4 Series Gran Coupe foor-door fastback, hence the i4 moniker. And if you were wondering, yes, the CLAR platform it uses is the same modular one that also underpins the 3 Series saloon. So while no, this isn't technically an electric 3 Series, it exists very much in that same compact sedan segment (the same one that's presently dominated by the Tesla Model 3 on the EV front).

Confusing? Slightly, but let's push on.

Task master

The i4 is an immediately recognisable BMW compact sedan, with large kidney grille and all
Visually, the i4 looks every part the modern BMW - large kidney grille, angular head lights, sleek body, and all the muscular presence that you'd want from your sport sedan.

There are some blue flourishes to identify this as a BMW i model, but beyond that it looks very much like a traditional BMW. And that's good - it's not overly shouty about its electric nature in perhaps something like a Tesla is. You could say that it looks rather traditional, and I reckon that's part of the appeal. After all, a four-door sedan-shaped car is pretty much what people immediately picture when thinking about a BMW.

The interior is top-notch BMW fare. You get nice materials (the light beige leather in our test unit will be a maintenance nightmare), the latest technology, and also all the day-to-day functionality you'll ever need.

Beyond just looking pretty, the curved display also brings plenty of customisable functionality thanks to the new OS 8
The new Operating System 8, housed within the large curved display, is a visual delight, though we will admit that it takes a little getting used to. Some of the 'buttons' are on the small side, and there is a need to menu-dive a little more than we'd like. However, paired with the digital dashboard and the head-up display, the breadth of information and functionality is stellar.

The i4 package isn't perfect, though. It still uses the old steering wheel, and as a result some of the button mapping of the OS 8 functionality (such as adjusting information on the digital dashboard) isn't quite as intuitive. Also, because of the need to accommodate the battery pack, rear passenger headroom is slightly compromised, since the seats are slightly elevated.

It also seems an odd omission that this car doesn't have the full suite of driving assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control or the ability to steer in the middle of the lane (the cheaper and technically older iX3 has these features). You also don't get full access to some OS 8 features, such as the Augmented Reality View. 

Road holder

One of the many digital functions available on the i4 is the ability to lock/unlock the car using your phone
What you do get, nonetheless, is spectecular on-road performance. Here, the i4 performs exactly as a BMW sport sedan should - great ride composure, accurate and dynamic steering, and a sense of agility that the brand prides itself on.

It's not necessarily the quickest in a straight line, but it still has more than ample pace for your day to day driving needs. The 339bhp and 430Nm of torque mean that quick bursts of acceleration are easily dispatched, with 0-100km/h taking a brisk 5.7 seconds. Of course, driven sensibly, the car is smooth, comfortable and easy to pilot.

What's perhaps most impressive about the i4 is the fact that it feels quite light, masking its 2,125kg kerb weight very well. This has something to do with its rear-wheel drive setup (the nose feels alert and pointy), and really adds to the sense of dynamism especially when tackling twisty roads. Chuck the i4 into some corners and its sporty capabilities really shine through. The car feels balanced, agile, and alert. More so than most other EVs, it feels involving to drive.

Agile, dynamic and fleet-footed through corners, the i4 feels involving to drive in a way that most other EVs aren't
There are a range of settings you can tweak, including the level of regeneration, steering behaviour, as well as the electric soundtrack. Personally, I like maximum regen, minimum sound, sporty steering. It delivers all the sporty electric capability of the car, combined with the electric refinement and quietness. The only thing that I'd additionally want is the adaptive regenerative braking function found in the iX.

As for efficiency, the i4 performs well. BMW says that this is its most efficient deployment of its Gen 5 eDrive powertrain, and it shows. I managed 5.8km/kWh, which translates to approximately 468km of real world range. Considering I spent more time on normal roads than on highways, the figure is pretty impressive, and likely can be improved with a more judicious right foot.

Broad appealer

The fastback bodystyle means that the 470-litre boot is easily accessible
The BMW i4 is easily the best driving EV this side of a Porsche Taycan (which is a lot more expensive). It's also one of the most efficient EVs we've tested. That means that the i4 will likely have broad appeal - not just to the eco and wallet-conscious, but also to drivers who want some sportiness in their car.

It's not absolutely perfect, but for what it is, it is a mighty impressive package. It's not overly techy or complicated, and delivers a very recognisable and authentic BMW driving experience. It feels high-quality and premium, and is fitted out with ample features that will see to any family's day to day needs. And, when you want to, there certainly is driving fun to be had. This is very much a BMW premium compact sedan. Just an electric one. 

Premium and functional, efficient yet fun to drive, the i4 definitely makes a compelling case for going electric
There is, of course, the matter of price. At $311,888 (as of 25 March 2022), it's certainly not cheap. A Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2 will cost you at least 50 grand less, though the i4 definitely delivers a better sense of luxury and dynamism than either of those.

A better price context for the i4 would, inevitably, be the 3 Series and 4 Series Gran Coupe, BMW's other two 4-door sedan offerings in this segment. Considering the i4 delivers more performance, technology, and at least similar dynamic capability as those cars for not a lot more money, I think it's the pick of the bunch, assuming you've committed to going electric.
 
 
In the market for an all electric four-door saloon? Here are some other options to consider: 

The Tesla Model 3 Performance is uniquely different, with power aplenty and a clever autopilot system

The Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor makes a strong impression with its capable drivetrain, premium cabin and keen attention to detail

The entry level Porsche Taycan proves that less can be more

The Audi e-tron GT is a beautifully-styled, mindbendingly fast and generously comfortable grand tourer
Car Information
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BMW i4 Gran Coupe Electric eDrive40 80.7 kWh (A)
Rate it

Price

: $342,999

Engine Type

:

Single current-excited synchronous motor

Engine Cap

:

-

Horsepower

:

250kW (335 bhp)

Torque

:

430 Nm

Transmission

:

Single-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

5.7sec

Top Speed

:

190km/h

Energy consumption

:

5km/kWh

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bmw  i4  bmw i4  4 series  3 series  bmw i  bmw electric  tesla  polestar  taycan