- Muscular styling and explosive performance to match
- Excellent infotainment set-up inside a classy cabin
- Very decent driving range between charges
- Quite expensive if lots of extras are added
- Tesla has a superior charging infrastructure
- The larger grille design still annoys some BMW purists
The i4 is BMW’s first fully electric performance model aimed at buyers searching in the midsize car sector. With gran coupe body styling, along with the company’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, it’s a car that boasts performance to match its dynamic appearance. Click here to get your Brochure
The i4 eDrive40 is available in two trim levels called Sport and M Sport. But for the more adventurous the i4 M50 is the real high performance pick of the pack.
The i4 is based on the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the range-topping M50 will be taking on the likes of Polestar and Tesla when vying for sales.
On The Road
The all-new BMW i4 line-up consists of the rear-wheel drive i4 eDrive40 with 340hp and 430Nm of torque. Both the Sport and M Sport can complete the 0-62mph dash in 5.7 seconds and the top speed is 118mph with a driving range of 367 miles.
However, we opted for the mighty i4 M50 version with an electric motor on each axle to deliver all-wheel drive. Any BMW carrying the M prefix is always a little bit special and the i4 M50 is no exception to that ruling.
Boasting 544hp and 795Nm of torque, the i4 M50 can power its way to 62mph from a standing start in just 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 140mph and driving range of 316 miles on a single charge.
The pace out the starting blocks is blisteringly quick and this i4 M50 is the perfect example that electric driving can be just as much fun as traditionally-powered cars. In fact, with instant torque it is even more exhilarating.
The grip is exceptional through tight bends, the steering is beautifully weighted and there are drive modes called Sport, Comfort and Eco that alter the reactions of the car.
There is also a rather tempting Sport Boost setting. Select this and it increases the combined drive power by 68hp to its maximum of 544hp for 10 seconds. At the same time, torque is raised by 65Nm to 795Nm. The burst of speed is perfectly accompanied by a raspy M-Specific sound to add to the fun.
With its 83.9kWh battery pack positioned beneath the floor, the i4 M50 boasts a low centre of gravity and that in turn results in excellent handling ability. Despite its rather heavy weight of 2.2 tonnes, the car boasts sharp responses with direct steering. It’s a vehicle that fills you with confidence when firing into and out of tight corners.
With all-wheel drive on the i4 M50, there is exceptional grip with the clever set-up optimising traction and handling stability by adjusting the torque accordingly. Most of the time, the i4 M50 performs in rear-wheel drive to maximise driving range with the front wheels adding extra torque under heavier acceleration.
It cruises on motorways reaching the maximum speed limit in the blink of an eye and is also nice and agile in busier town centre settings with sensors, cameras and parking assistance systems available to help squeeze into tighter parking spaces.
The adaptive M suspension set-up does an excellent job of smoothing out the bumpy road surfaces and, when faced with the open road, this car is guaranteed to make you smile.
Refinement levels also impress in the i4 M50 with any wind and road surface noise well suppressed and the braking system is superior to many rivals we have driven. There is adaptive regenerative braking to recoup any lost energy while slowing down, and on this BMW, the whole process is far smoother than some competitors.
The i4 M50 is the first purely electric performance car from the BMW M division so it needs to look the business from every angle. And it does just that. It would be fair to say this four-door gran coupe has the wow factor.
The front apron has the signature U-shaped graphic of M models. There are additional side air intakes and the recently redesigned kidney grille which is blanked off, is coloured grey. High gloss black trim adds a touch of menace to the mix as does the M-specific spoiler. Short overhangs, slim pillars, high-end lighting, frameless windows, a tapering roofline and 20-inch alloy wheels with red brake calipers complete the look.
Move inside and the i4 M50 features the very latest BMW iDrive and operating System 8 set-up which introduces a new generation of curved displays, controls and software.
Sports seats and a sports steering wheel are fitted as standard across the range. But the i4 M50 also boasts high-end Vernasca leather upholstery throughout. And, of course, there is plenty of M badging just in case you need reminding this is no ordinary i4. Even the seatbelts have a sporty theme – they are black with thin blue and red stripes.
All surfaces look and feel upmarket and our test car featured a Comfort Pack, costing £1,200, that added a heated steering wheel, comfort access, front lumbar support and extended storage space. Another optional extra was an electric glass sunroof that allowed light to flood into the cabin.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With power-adjustable seats and a manually adjustable steering wheel, finding the perfect driving position within the i4 M50 is simple enough and there are memory options to store your favourite settings.
The cockpit has a premium and ultra-modern feel to it with the main focus being a stunning curved display that sees the 12.3-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display merge into one single driver-focused unit. It is held in place by a supporting structure which is concealed from view, so the whole unit appears to float.
This is the nerve centre of the car and offers pin sharp graphics behind anti-reflective glass. The numerous on-board systems can be accessed in a number of ways such as using the rotary controller dial, voice activation, steering wheel buttons or via the touchscreen itself. I would prefer separate controls for the climate set-up but it is still relatively straightforward to adjust on the move.
The new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant can communicate with all occupants and learns as it goes. If, for example you lower your window at the same GPS point every work day – possibly for a barrier – the personal assistant will suggest it does this automatically for you. Clever stuff.
On-board tech is impressive with a 16-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, DAB radio, full smartphone connectivity, head-up display, wireless phone charging and plenty more besides.
The all-round visibility is okay, but not great with a narrow rear screen due to the tapering roof design of the car.
Space & Practicality
The BMW i4 M50 is 4,785mm in length, 1,852mm wide, 1,448mm high and has a wheelbase of 2,856mm. There is ample space up front and the minimalist layout with floating screen structure also frees up lots of extra room.
Back seat passengers have ample leg space provided the front seats are not pushed back too far. However, due to the sloping roof design of the i4, the headroom is quite restricted. It is just fine for a trio of youngsters though to sit comfortably on longer journeys.
Storage options throughout the car are good with a practically-sized glovebox, wide door pockets, front and rear cup holders, a central cubby box, seat back nets and a hidden compartment beside the driver’s right knee.
The boot can swallow 470 litres of kit and the split-folding rear seats can be folded forward to increase storage limits to 1,290 litres. The tailgate is automatically opened and there are nets and hooks inside the boot to secure items and stop them rolling around.
Charging the BMW i4 from a home wallbox takes a little under 8.5 hours to get a boost from 0 to 100 per cent. If faster charging is needed, an extra 87 miles can be added to the M50 model or 102 miles to the standard i4 versions in just 10 minutes from a high-powered charger.
The all-new BMW i4 line-up is priced from £51,905 for the entry-level i4 eDrive40 Sport model, increasing to £51,905 for the M Sport version.
Our test car, in range-topping M50 guise, was priced at £64,100, but as is the norm with premium manufacturers, there are lots of packs and optional extras to tempt buyers. The final cost of our model crept up to £73,425.
With zero tailpipe emissions, the i4 M50 is exempt from road tax, and whereas owners of petrol or diesel cars costing more than £40k would have to pay an addition luxury car levy of £335 for five years, EVs owners are spared that fee. That ruling was introduced in 2020 and runs until 2025.
There would be no Government Plug-in Car Grant as the cut-off point is cars costing no more than £32,000, but there will be good tax savings for business owners under the Benefit in Kind scheme. And it will also be free from Congestion Charge zone fees.
The BMW i4 M50 sits in insurance group 43.
Quality & Reliability
BMW builds its i4 at the Group Plant in Munich alongside petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models on the same line. The company recently invested 200 million Euros in the plant to cover all the new assembly needs and both the i4 and its battery cells will be manufactured using 100 per cent green energy.
The fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology that incorporates the latest power electronics, charging technology and high-voltage battery as well as integrated electric motors has been developed to enable strong performance with everyday usability and long-distance capabilities. It has been put through rigorous testing processes and should deliver thousands of miles of trouble-free motoring.
And its always worth reminding ourselves that electric cars have fewer moving parts, so in theory, there is less to go wrong.
The vehicle has a solid feel to it and all the switchgear and upholstery is well constructed so should survive the test of time.
In addition, the i4 line-up comes with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, while the battery warranty extends to eight years.
Safety & Security
Although Euro NCAP has not yet tested the i4 for its safety rating, the car is packed with the latest technology and driver assistance aids to protect occupants, other road users and help prevent accidents happening in the first place.
BMW claims it is one of the best equipped cars in the sector with around 40 assistance functions offered as standard or via optional packs.
Safety systems include approach lane change warning, lane departure warning, rear collision prevention, control warning, rear-cross traffic warning, speed limit information and tyre pressure sensors.
An optional Driving Assistant Professional system (part of the £1,900 Technology Plus Pack) saw the introduction of front crossing traffic warning, lane change assistant, lane keeping assistant with side collision protection, steering and lane control assistant (with active navigation guidance too), automatic speed limit assist, crossroads warning, emergency stop assist, evasion assist, wrong-way warning and traffic light detection.
Our i4 M50 included a Visibility Pack costing £1,500 extra and that introduced Laserlights for excellent illumination when driving at night. They work by increasing the lighting of certain sections of the road ahead without dazzling oncoming drivers. It also added high beam assist to the mix.
An acoustic pedestrian protection system is fitted as standard to warn people about the i4’s presence.
And the BMW i4 is fitted with excellent anti-theft devices to keep any uninvited admirers at bay.
BMW is powering ahead with its electrification programme and the all-new beautifully-styled i4 is another great example of how good these cars are. The i4 in M50 guise delivers blistering pace, outstanding handling while offering all the premium tech we demand along the way. And it has a good range too.
Fancy something bigger but still environmentally friendly? Take a look at the BMW iX M Sport.