BMW i4 - Electric motor, drive and performance
The BMW i4 shows that an electric car can deliver plenty of driving feel and enjoyment
The i4 features the fifth-generation of BMW’s eDrive electric motors, with the motor itself, transmission and electronics all contained in a single unit for greater efficiency. But, arguably the manufacturer’s greatest achievement with the i4 is the way it drives: despite weighing in at over two tonnes, the five-door Gran Coupe is superb through the corners with plenty of grip, a precise feel to the steering and no hint of understeer. In fact, aside from the lack of combustion noise, we think you’d struggle to tell the difference between the i4 and a fossil-fuelled 4 Series Gran Coupe out on the road.
The single rear-mounted motor in the eDrive35 and eDrive40 models have more than enough punch for everyday driving situations. Considering how heavy the i4 is, you might think the i4 would deliver a firmer ride, but in Comfort mode the dampers soak up most imperfections in the road and help keep things relaxed – whether on a twisty B-road or on longer motorway journeys. That ride comfort, along with excellent refinement, is what makes the i4 such a great long-distance cruiser.
BMW has been particularly clever with the position of the i4’s battery; it sits low in the car’s floor and gives a centre of gravity that is 53mm lower than a 3 Series saloon – going someway to offsetting the extra weight of the electric Gran Coupe.
Air suspension is also standard on all models which suggests that ride composure was a key priority for the manufacturer in the design and setup of the i4. It certainly helped during our group test between the i4, Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2, because we found the BMW was the most comfortable car of the three, by quite some margin. Whether in town or on long journeys, the i4 stood out as the most relaxing car in the test.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The i4 eDrive35 and eDrive40 both use a single, rear-mounted electric motor to drive the rear wheels – as is the BMW way. The eDrive35’s motor produces 282bhp which enables it to sprint from 0-62mph in six seconds exactly. It also provides a healthy 400Nm of torque, so the base i4 still feels very quick off the line, and during overtakes. The eDrive40 pumps a more generous 335bhp and 430Nm of torque, allowing it to hit 62mph from a standstill in a brisk 5.7 seconds. Top speed for both models is 118mph.
The M50 gets an additional electric motor on the front axle for all-wheel drive. It also increases power output to 469bhp and torque makes a significant jump to 730Nm, but it’s also possible to engage a 10-second boost mode which unlocks the M50’s full 537bhp and 795Nm. Do so, and 0-62mph takes 3.9 seconds, while the top speed stands at 139mph.
In this review
- 1BMW i4 reviewSophisticated, well-built and typically great to drive, the all-electric BMW i4 is an easy car to recommend
- 2Electric motor, drive and performance - currently readingThe BMW i4 shows that an electric car can deliver plenty of driving feel and enjoyment
- 3Range, charging and running costsThe i4 costs more to buy than some close rivals, but should be relatively cheap to run
- 4Interior, design and technologyBuyers who prioritise good build quality and the latest on-board technology will appreciate the BMW i4
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBased on the 4 Series Gran Coupe, the i4 offers decent practicality and plenty of comfort, although rear passenger space is a bit tight
- 6Reliability and safetyStandard safety kit is good, while the i4 should be a dependable all-electric car