Road tests

New BMW i4 prototype review

We hit the road in a prototype version of the new all-electric BMW i4

BMW i4 prototype - front


The BMW i4 has left a fantastic first impression on us. It’s an electric car designed for EV sceptics, with a long range, solid recharging technology and excellent driving dynamics. If the price is right, BMW has nailed it.

Mid-size saloons are where BMW’s customer base has resided traditionally, so the fully-electric i4 has the chance to attract a significant proportion of the marque’s buyers to zero-emission motoring. In the M50 variant, one thing is immediately clear: this is an EV made for keen drivers.

The i4 appeals with astonishing steering precision and smooth handling, and despite the two-tonne weight there’s relatively little body roll. The ultra-low centre of gravity comes into play here; it’s actually 53mm lower than in the 3 Series.

The i4’s dynamics are very impressive, but despite the incredible rigidity that BMW’s engineers have achieved (thanks mainly to making use of the battery pack as a structural component), it’s not quite as outstanding in this regard as the similarly powerful M3 Competition. There’s only so much magic that Munich’s engineers can conjure, but there’s no doubt that this feels like one of the best electric cars to drive that we’ve tried so far.

It’s not just how the car feels to drive that counts, though, because the i4 still needs to appeal to the basic sensibilities of EV motoring. Thankfully features such as the intelligent braking recuperation, which uses navigation data to automatically adjust the level of intervention, play right into that. The driver can adjust it manually, too, thanks to the neatly integrated control system as part of the drive selector.

Details such as the lightweight and aerodynamic alloy wheels tick this box, too, and according to BMW they add up to six miles of range on their own. The entire underside of the car is faired in for maximum aerodynamic efficiency, and since there’s no exhaust to deal with, the large diffuser makes use of all of the rear bumper space it can.

In the cabin, the new display is recognisably BMW and is angled in towards the driver. And once again, it’s a massively worthy update to the iDrive set-up, which thankfully retains its easy-to-use click wheel.

Model: BMW i4 M50
Price: £63,905
Engine: 81kw battery, dual electric motors
Power/torque: 544bhp/795Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:3.9 seconds
Top speed:140mph
Range:316 miles (WLTP)
On sale:Now

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