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BMW i4 eDrive40 M Sport review

As the automotive industry continues its transition to electric, can the i4 help BMW retain its position of market-leader when it comes to refinement, luxury, gadgetry, and practicality?

We put the BMW i4 to the test

We put the BMW i4 to the test

If you’re unfamiliar with BMW’s ‘i’ range of cars, most are effectively the all-electric equivalents of their traditional petrol and diesel range.

So far, there are six of them (ten, if you count the ‘M’ models separately) ranging from the standalone iX SUV to the 7-Series counterpart, the i7.

The i4 was the original and, you guessed it, it’s pretty much an engineless 4-Series Gran Coupé.

Apart from elongated kidney grilles, which divide opinion, it looks just like any normal road car. And you’d be hard pushed to tell there wasn’t an engine under the bonnet.

The i4 features ‘electric blue’ decals on the grille and the “exhaust” surround (not that there is an exhaust) as well as down the side on the entry-level Sport version. But, apart from that, there’s little to give the game away.

The Sport model includes 17-inch alloys, a 14.9-inch infotainment system, SatNav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. It also boasts a Harman Kardon surround sound system, keyless go, leather steering wheel, wireless charger, electrically adjustable sport seats and door mirrors with memory function. Plus, you get ambient interior lighting, LED lights, three-zone air conditioning and a glass roof.

The M Sport model is the same but with more aggressive external bodywork, a leather ‘M’-style steering wheel and 18-inch alloys. But on both models, you can choose between 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloys – at a cost if you’re increasing the wheel size.

Both are rear-wheel drive, with the eDrive35 model producing 286PS and the higher-powered eDrive40 outputting 340PS.

There is also an ‘M’ version called the M50 with 544PS.

The car tested here is the eDrive40 in M Sport trim, which manages 0-62mph in 5.6-seconds (0.4-seconds quicker than the eDrive35 model).

Along with nearly all electric vehicles, the power delivery is instantaneous upon pushing the accelerator.

As a result, the BMW feels pacey, although the additional 54PS over the eDrive35 doesn’t necessarily offer much additional performance in practice.

It handles well, but, being an electric car, the weight of the batteries makes it feel heavier and less nimble than a petrol-powered BMW, with more understeer on the way into a corner.

As you continue around the bend, the rear-wheel drive picks up the momentum and helps to turn.

Ride comfort, even on the largest optional 19-inch wheels, is refined, so those opting for the standard 17- or 18-inch options should have no issues.

If you’re moving from a fossil-fuelled M Sport, you might be disappointed with the handling, but it more than meets the needs of most. And it successfully achieves the difficult blend: a car with keen driving dynamics which is also relaxing to drive.

As a result, long-distance cruises make for easy work and, thanks to quality soundproofing, you’ll be gliding along peacefully, even when flooring the throttle.

The i4’s stopping power impresses, too, with predictive regenerative braking. This tech can adjust the braking system’s ferocity automatically by using the SatNav to predict the speed needed to navigate the next bend.

Curiously, the i4 features a composition soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, the man behind the music to Pirates of The Caribbean among many others. It provides an electronic ‘engine note’ which is clever but, unlike in most cars, it’s not attempting to replicate the sound of a petrol-powered motor. Some folks won’t like it, and it can be turned off if you want relative silence.

The interior of the i4 looks as normal as any other BMW, so the minimalistic, futuristic aesthetic of some electric car interiors isn’t found here. That is no bad thing, as people who are moving to an i4 from a regular BMW will instantly feel at home.

That said, the digital instrument display (known as Live Cockpit Plus) and the infotainment screen (known as BMW Curved Display) are housed in one unit, which sits behind the steering wheel like an ultra-widescreen tablet.

The system is the latest evolution (version 8.0 to be precise) of BMW’s famed iDrive system. It remains the industry leader, offering crisply clear graphics, informative and intuitive layouts and plenty of customisable features.

Voice control works well, which is a relief, as the air conditioning controls are on the touchscreen, which would otherwise make it a fiddle to adjust on the move.

The seats are comfortable and, from the driver’s perspective, there’s plenty of space to spare. Meanwhile, electronic seat adjustment makes it easy to find a suitable driving position, which you can then save via the seat’s memory function.

The roof slopes down towards the rear, which slightly reduces the headroom in the back seats. But, overall, it’s not bad and at least there’s plenty of legroom on offer.

Despite appearing to be a saloon (BMW insists it’s a coupé) the i4 is technically a hatchback, given how the boot opens.

This makes the 470-litre cargo capacity easily accessible. And, even more conveniently thanks to 40:20:40 split-folding seats, it expands to 1,290-litres – around 50 litres more than a Tesla Model 3.

All i4s include an 83.9kWh battery capable of a 10-80% top-up in just 30 minutes at a charging speed of 210kW. But few public chargers manage that speed at the moment, while Tesla’s own exclusive network charges at a rate of 250kW.

A range of 347 to 365 miles is claimed in the i4 M Sport driven here, while the Sport version will achieve 337 to 352 miles, although expect less than this in practice. Also, savings are to be found in benefit-in-kind tax, which means the i4 will appeal to company car users.

The BMW i4 was crash-tested in 2022 by Euro NCAP and only earned a four-star rating. This score may not sound bad, but BMW will be disappointed given most of their cars are able to earn five stars.

Thinking of making the switch to electric?

It scored 87% for both adults and children and 64% for safety assists – lower scores than the 3-Series and the 4-Series coupé. But this may be explained by Euro NCAP making its testing criteria more stringent in the meantime.

The i4 includes automatic emergency braking, forward and rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, plus adaptive cruise control.

Driving Assistant, which uses radar and camera systems, is also offered as standard. This technology can be upgraded to include steering and lane-control assist, parking assist, traffic light detection and wrong-way warnings.

Overall, the i4 retains BMW’s reputation as a class-leader when it comes to refinement, luxury, gadgetry, and practicality.

Its handling is good, albeit not on a par with petrol models, while it retains a decent level of ride comfort despite large alloys.

Those whose only mission is to experience the thrills of driving may be tempted to wait to switch to an electric car. But for what it is, the first iteration of the i4 confirms that BMW isn’t heading in the wrong direction.

Fast Facts – BMW i4 eDrive40, M Sport trim as tested:

  • Max speed: 118mph
  • 0-62 mph: 5.6secs
  • Range: 347 to 365 miles (83.9kWh battery)
  • Powertrain layout: electric motor with rear-wheel drive
  • Max. power (PS): 340PS
  • CO2: 0g/km
  • Price: £59,390

About the Author

By Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is a freelance motoring journalist. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches worldwide.