BMW’s first mid-sized electrical saloon appears to have been a very long time coming, even when it’s practically 9 years because the firm began its EV journey with the pioneering i3 hatchback approach again in 2013.
In reality, it seems to have been that i3 expertise that has slowed BMW’s transfer into the mainstream EV market, to problem established arrivals from Tesla, Porsche and Mercedes. Whereas the i3 was a brave and radical little automobile that didn’t fairly work (and neither did its equally novel supercar stablemate, the i8), this new i4 sits on the different finish of the engineering and styling spectrum.
As a substitute of taking the I’m-electric-so-I’m-different route, it adopts a judiciously modified model of a well-proven platform, already used for typical 3 and 4 Sequence fashions, and likewise adopts comparatively acquainted Gran Sport four-door physique styling that appears modern and sporty however doesn’t frighten the horses. Not that the i4 is any the more serious for this company pragmatism: it is a totally enticing, ideally sized and well-proportioned automobile. However it’s fascinating to see that BMW now believes patrons of mid-sized EV saloons, lots of them enterprise user-choosers, are already taking a large enough step in ditching ICE, and don’t need to be challenged to undertake an unsettling new look and physique structure as nicely.
The i4 has nearly the identical proportions and highway footprint as a 3 Sequence. Its tracks are a bit wider, and its centre of gravity is decrease largely as a result of the battery is usually carried beneath the ground (and a bit bit in what was the transmission tunnel).
Step nearer and variations grow to be apparent. Lengthy accents on the physique sides give the automobile its personal character and promote the presence of the 80.7kWh (internet) lithium ion battery. On the entrance, there are very skinny LED headlights both facet of an angular, technical-looking iteration of BMW’s kidney grille, just like that used on the brand new iX SUV. Within the i4’s case, the grille is nearly fully blanked off as a result of electrical vehicles want much less cooling. As a substitute, it supplies a superb house for the automobile’s numerous forward-looking cameras.
Two fashions are provided, the headline-grabbing 537bhp twin-motor, all-wheel-drive i4 M50 (£63,905) we’ve already examined, and the marginally lighter, barely calmer single-motor, rear-drive eDrive40, pushed right here, with 335bhp on faucet, which could be laid out in both primary Sport or the M Sport trim we tried. Our automobile’s most eye-catching determine is an official vary of 367miles on the WLTP cycle: this, plus its £9500 lower cost and a really wholesome 0-62mph time of 5.7sec imply the eDrive40 is the i4 mannequin prone to seem on most UK driveways. BMW’s launch blurb helpfully factors out that the 40-model’s output “places it on an equal footing with BMW’s strongest present in-line six-cylinder diesel”.
Given the efficiency and vary, our take a look at automobile’s kerb weight of 2125kg doesn’t look too unhealthy in opposition to opponents. BMW says the i4’s battery, assembled with the remainder of the automobile in Munich, is now 40% extra power dense than that used within the pioneering i3 as a result of its cooling, packaging and chemistry are all higher. It additionally makes use of no uncommon earth constituents and is made completely by renewable power.