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BMW i4 offers luxury looks and sporty ride, all in an EV package Featured

Posted On Tuesday, 05 September 2023 00:46 Written by
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The BMW i4 is a compact sedan that's part of the brand's growing EV lineup. The BMW i4 is a compact sedan that's part of the brand's growing EV lineup. Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has been a longtime supporter of electric vehicles in the luxury realm, dating back to the quirky little i3 a decade ago. And they have stepped up their game with recent EV models that are much closer in design and performance to their regular lineup than ever before.

I recently tested one of those offerings, the BMW i4 — their entry in the compact EV sedan category, which is significant since so many new EVs are focused on SUV lineups. (NOTE: I tested a 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40, which transferred to 2023 with only minor changes)


LOOKS

The BMW i4 is a small EV sedan — based on the longtime favorite 3-series sedan and the 4-series Gran Coupe — with a hatchback-style trunk. It features a sleek, eye-catching exterior design that visually tops the looks of the few EV sedans available in the luxury realm, such as the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2.

BMW’s kidney-style grille will continue to polarize opinions, with some loving it while many loathe it, but I thought it fit well with the overall design. The Mineral White Metallic paint on my test vehicle was also very sharp, and the power glass moonroof lets the sun shine in.


The M Sport Package featured an upgrade to 19-inch M wheels and shadowline exterior trim. Another option is Icon Adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight, which allow high beams to be on at all times, and shut themselves off automatically when traffic is approaching.

Moving inside the i4, the vehicle features well-placed controls and technology features, and high-quality materials throughout. It’s truly a first-class design, and BMW does not disappoint in terms of pure elegance and class.

The extra-wide curved screen combines the center infotainment controls and the info screen in front of the driver, and looks extra sharp. High-end Mocha Vernasca leather seating is offered, along with features such as ambient interior lighting, heated seats, multi-zone climate control, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, ventilated front seats, wood trim, and much more.

While other EVs tend to focus more on technology and less on quality of materials, BMW has shown with the i4 and its other EV offerings that you can do both. And the i4 is roomy enough for all five passengers to be comfortable.

The only downside of the interior is the limited cargo space. Only 10 cubic feet of space can be found in the trunk, but the rear seats can fold down to help transport longer items. There is also no sign of a “frunk” for storage in the front end of the i4.

HOW’S THE RIDE?

The number of electric motors in the i4 depends on which model you choose.

The i4 eDrive40 trim features a single, rear-mounted electric motor and an 81 kWh battery pack that provide 335 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, and features rear-wheel drive. Those who step up to the more sporty M50 trim level get a dual-motor powertrain with all-wheel drive and 469 horsepower and 538 pound-feet.

The 0-to-60 times on the i4 are quite strong, with the eDrive40 managing the task in under 6 seconds, and the M50 taking less than 4 seconds.

The eDrive40 I tested got moving fast, and was truly a pleasure to drive. It may be slightly less sporty than other BMW offerings in terms of handling, but the difference is not too pronounced. If it wasn’t for the quiet that an EV power plant offers, you’d be forgiven for not realizing it’s an EV at all.

A regenerative braking system allows you to boost your range, and drive modes include Eco Pro, Normal and Sport.

Performance can also be helped by the Dynamic Handling Package ($1,750), which features M Sport Brakes and an Adaptive M Suspension; You can also add the M Sport Package and its variable sport steering for $2,400.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

At the center of the BMW i4’s tech setup is a massive 14.9-inch rectangular infotainment display that is customizable and lists all information on climate, audio, navigation and more.

This comprehensive system, called iDrive 8, is one of the best-looking and easiest-to-operate systems in the business. It also features well-placed dials for controls for those who don’t want to do everything by touchscreen. Voice controls also work very effectively.

It’s also interesting that BMW also combines the 12.3-inch digital driver information screen and the center screen into one continuous piece of curved glass on the dashboard, a trend that’s visually appealing and likely to grow in popularity across the industry in years to come.

In addition to a rotary controller being included on the center console, this system also is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for phone mirroring.

In terms of speakers, a Harman Kardon surround-sound system is an affordable option and offers excellent audio quality. And there are ample USB ports throughout the vehicle to help keep devices charged, plus an optional wireless charger.

The Connected Package Pro will give you real-time traffic updates, on-street parking information, and access to BMW Remote Services.

Moving on to safety, one highlight of the BMW i4 is the Active Driving Assistant Pro, an option that will perform basic self-driving duties. You must keep your hands on the wheel for safety purposes, but once engaged the system handles driving duties very effectively, including managing twisty roadways and sharp curves, and slowing down when traffic appears in front of the i4. 

The vehicle will also provide you warnings on the screen if you are veering out of your lane or engaging in any other dangerous behavior.

An optional 360-degree rear camera system is extremely clear and a big help in tight parking situations, or you need to back out of an odd position. The rearview surround camera is among the sharpest-looking in the business.

The vehicle’s head-up display was also a major help, keeping drivers’ eyes on the road.

Other standard features include: Forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, front and rear parking sensors, and lane-keeping assist.


RANGE

Overall range on the BMW i4 is strong, coming in at a total of 99 MPGe (100 MPGe city, 98 MPGe highway). This is slightly less range than some rivals in the luxury EV segment, but still respectable.

The i4 eDrive40 features a maximum range of 301 miles. (The more sporty M50 tops out at 270 miles of range.)

While a strong overall number for the current market, those numbers will need to keep growing before mass adoption of EVs can take place, and people start to trust using EVs for long-distance travel such as road trips.

In terms of public charging, I went to a charging station with about 30 percent juice, plugged in the i4 and got close to 100 percent in just over an hour, for a cost of less than $20.

For regular charging, the best bet for buyers of the i4 (or any EV) will be to install and use a Level 2 home charger and juice up the i4 in their garage, which is more cost-effective than public chargers. A standard plug will barely get the needle moving, so don’t even bother.

Also, be aware that adding larger wheels will drop ranges to 282 miles on the eDrive40 and 227 miles with the M50.

PRICE

The BMW i4 that I tested was priced just a hair under $70K, coming in at $69,720. The base price of the vehicle starts around $53K.

The latest version of the i4 now offers four trim levels — eDrive35, eDrive40 and xDrive40 and M50.

The M50 trim level, while the most pricey, is definitely the one to choose if you are able to afford it, as it offers the full BMW experience. But the eDrive40 that I tested was also no slouch on the roadways and a vehicle most people would be proud to own.

In terms of pricing, the i4 comes in at a higher price point than the Tesla Model 3, but that’s logical since the i4 is much more luxurious. The i4 also comes in lower than vehicles from some other luxury competitors, including Mercedes-Benz. Regardless of the brand you choose, going all electric in a luxury ride right now will cost a pretty penny.

The warranty on the i4 is decent, including:
— 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty
— 4-year Unlimited Mileage Roadside Assistance Program
— 8-year/100,000-mile High-Voltage Battery Warranty
— 3-years/36,000 miles of free maintenance

BOTTOM LINE

The tremendous design, power and technology in the BMW i4 makes it one of the better EV options available. And as proof of its commitment to EVs, BMW has plenty more to offer in the EV realm — including the i5, i7 and iX models.

Other than a slight bit of disappointment at the overall mileage range, there’s much to love about the BMW i4, which is a leading contender among luxury EV sedans, and provides a more enjoyable overall driving experience than its key competitors from Tesla and Polestar.

=== 

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

 



Additional Info

  • Vehicle: BMW i4 
  • Price as tested: $69,720
  • Best feature: Excellent design, powerful ride, advanced technology
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Electric vehicle buyers seeking the high level of power and class that BMW can offer in a compact sedan
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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