To begin with, the BMW i4 prototype was only unveiled as recently as 2017. Back then, the BMW i4 prototype was the first all-electric designed by BMW's motorsports division. However, the BMW i4 prototype has now morphed into an electric car that is just as much at home on the road as it is on the track. The new i4 may be built on the same platform that the carmaker has already used for some of its other electric cars but that does not mean that this 2021 BMW isn't something very different as, in fairness, most car reviews thus far have pointed out. Overall, this is BMW's liftback style of saloon with styling that would make owners of the 3 series drool. BMW claims that the four-door saloon counts as a gran coupé and it certainly falls into that general bracket. The wheelbase is 2,856 mm long while the weight of the car varies from 2,125 kilos to 2,290 kilos depending on the model variant you buy.
Range, Charging, & Emissions
Firstly, the BMW i4 will provide 316 miles of driving under WLTP, or test conditions. The battery technology BMW has chosen makes use of a high voltage system, allowing for fast charging. This means the battery pack conforms to the fifth-generation i4 eDrive40 system. The car has two main versions, the single motor i4 eDrive40 and the twin motor M50. Both have an 81.5 kWh battery to run the electric motor. What most i4 news reviews fail to point out, however, is that the lithium-ion battery pack offers 83.9 kWh gross power output. This constitutes 40 per cent more volumetric density than you'd find in a BMW i3 because extra battery modules adding up to 72 cells each have been fitted. Fortunately, they're all hunkered down in the car so that the centre of gravity remains low in the i4.
As for charging, the full 367 miles of range can be obtained from zero within eight hours or 13 hours from a 7.4 kW wall box. However, with fast-charging outlets, the car will be able to accept loads of up to 200 kW. Accordingly, the i4 edrive40 is said to be able to offer a 102-mile charge up within just ten minutes. The equivalent distance for the M50 is 87 miles for the same length of time charging. Indeed, a 10 per cent to 80 per cent charge would be possible in a little over half an hour when using a 200 kW charging station. This is something that is likely to make the ears of any electric car buyer prick up!
BMW has not released data to establish the cost per mile of charging the i4 from home. However, it is not expected that the model will be much different from most electric cars in this regard. You'd have to install a 200 kW professional charging station to notice any difference with your electricity bills. Most drivers will pay no more than about £38 a month for all their mobility needs. What's more, the new BMW comes with an eight-year warranty for its battery, so there are no hidden running costs there until some used cars start to become available in the coming years. The manufacturer also offers a reasonably affordable service plan with this model or you can opt for the standard, three-year or 36,000-mile warranty on its own. In fact, most of the costs associated with ownership are front-ended in the rather high initial price tag. In terms of insurance grouping, the British insurance industry has yet to set the standard for the car. However, the benefit in kind rate company car owners can take advantage of has been set already. This stands at two per cent in 2022-23 and 2023-24.
In terms of performance figures, the i4 has plenty to offer compared to comparable models. To begin with, drivers can expect an efficiency of 270 Watthours per mile. The 0-62mph of the eDrive40 is just 5.7 seconds and this one of the two models has a top speed of 118 mph. If you put the M50 model into all wheel drive mode and utilise its sport settings, then you can expect to drive with 537bhp, significantly more than the eDrive40 version. With the front axle also delivering power, the M50 offers 0-62mph performance of 3.9 seconds, more than enough for most vehicle owners. By way of comparison, BMW's 3 Series M340i xDrive MHT 4-door Step Auto gets to 62mph from a standing start in 4.4 seconds. A 4 Series Gran Coupe 440i M Sport edition achieves the same feat in 5.1 seconds.
The BMW 3 Series and 4 Series can both be seen in the exterior line that the i4 cuts. You can see these with the overall bodywork and, in particular, with the car's frameless windows. That said, the traditional look of the model should not mean owners will think their i4 looks like any typical 3 Series. Firstly, there is the absence of a conventional front grille because little air cooling is required, something which means this car looks very much like an all-electric model. Instead, there are flaps to keep the moving parts of the car cooled. Tapered door handles keep the sport styling going with improved aerodynamics. There are blue stripes under the doors of the i4. Not only does this blue trim look good but it also shows off the car's green credentials perfectly. At the rear is a lightweight diffuser that is made from textile-based materials, something that is supposed to help improve drive efficiency. A trio of wheel types is on offer with the i4 range. You can opt for bi-colour 18-inch light-alloy double-spoke wheels, 17-inch aerodynamic alloys or a set of 18-inch bi-colour wheels with mixed tyres.
The interior of the i4 is, in many ways, like the exterior design. The driving experience is at once both familiar and new. The car offers an interior that any driver of a petrol car from the BMW would recognise immediately. However, there are some high-tech things to play with, too, not least the large curved display that runs the vehicle's control system. In addition to this, you get a 12.3-inch infotainment display. These are easier to read thanks to the anti-reflective glass that has been used since the car's launch. The i4 is roomy inside and genuinely counts as a five-seater, not something that a number of its competitors can say given the limited headroom you get in the rear of some cars in its class. What's even better from the point of view of practicality is that the i4 has had a large rear boot in its design ever since the prototype of the car was first developed. Owners will enjoy 470 litres of storage space in the rear as standard. Drop down the rear seats and this more than doubles to a 1,290-litre capacity. The sound system in the car will alter according to the drive system you have running. For example, select Sport and the sound system will balance the acoustics for the expected level of road noise. Even the air conditioning in the car is quiet! This makes any drive in an i4 feel like a pleasant experience regardless of your chosen speed or terrain. Expect Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as 5G mobile capability.
The BMW i4 provides plenty of driver assistance systems, in common with the entire electric range from the manufacturer. Owners of every version of the i4 can expect lane departure warnings, automated emergency braking and a forward-collision warning system to name but three. There is also adaptive cruise control as well as airbags in the front and rear.
As previously mentioned, the asking price of the i4 is quite high but this should be balanced with the fact that you get quite a lot of car for your money within the i4 range. The entry-level price for a new i4 at launch is £51,905. The sale of an i4 eDrive40 M Sport would set you back £62,255 (OTR). Meanwhile, both of the aforementioned figures are dwarfed by the cost of an i4 M50 which is £72,995 (OTR). The entry-level version of the car's optional metallic finishes will set you back a further £695 while leather upholstery is a further £1,500 over the standard pricing. Opt for an M50 model and you can choose a frozen Portimao blue finish for an eye-watering £2,985 extra. The technology plus pack that BMW offers will set you back a further £1,900.