BMW i4 - Range, charging and running costs
The i4 costs more to buy than some close rivals, but should be relatively cheap to run
300 miles is something of a sweet spot when it comes to EV range; plenty to complete the average commute several times before you need to charge your car again, or tackle longer journeys without having to stop to top-up using pricey rapid chargers. BMW seems to understand this as every i4 can cover about 300 miles or more on a single charge.
The entry-level i4 eDrive35 has a maximum range of 299 miles from its 70kWh battery, which is a similar range to the base versions of the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3, that the i4 competes directly with. We managed an average efficiency of 3.5 miles per kWh when we tested the eDrive35 on UK roads, which equates to a real-world range of around 245 miles in normal driving.
Only you can decide whether that kind of range suits your needs, however it’s hard to overlook the fact that for the same money as the base i4, the refreshed Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a claimed range of over 400 miles.
The eDrive40 is more powerful and uses a slightly larger 80.7kWh battery that bumps the range up to 365 miles if you stick with the base Sport trim. If you upgrade to the M sport trim then overall range falls to 352 miles.
During our group test between an i4 eDrive40 in M Sport spec, and pre-facelift versions of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and Polestar 2 Long Range, the BMW was middle of the pack in terms of efficiency. The i4 managed to achieve a 3.8 miles per kWh – which equates to a real-world range of 307 miles. It couldn’t match the 4.4mi/kWh we saw from the Tesla, but trumped the Polestar 2’s 3.5mi/kWh.
Travelling over 300 miles on a single charge might be a little tricker in the performance-focused M50 model. It relies on the same 80.7kWh battery as the eDrive40 for a claimed maximum range of up to 318 miles, but if you’re keen on testing out the M50’s pace, then you should expect to cover around 250 miles before needing to find a charger.
The i4’s maximum charging speed depends on which model you get: the base eDrive35 maxes out at 180kW, while the eDrive40 and M50 can hit 205kW if you use a ultra-rapid charger capable of those speeds. Regardless, a 10 to 80 per cent charging session will take just over half an hour. Buyers receive a free 12-month subscription to the Ionity charging network, which helps to reduce running costs, particularly if you cover bigger mileages and frequently use rapid chargers.
Plug the eDrive35 into a 7.4kW home wallbox and it’ll take around 11 hours to achieve a full charge, while the same job will take 13 hours with the eDrive40 and M50.
With insurance premiums for electric cars often being a little higher than their combustion-engined siblings, BMW has managed to achieve a competitive insurance group rating for the i4. On the 1-50 scale, i4 eDrive40 sits in group 35 if you opt for Sport trim, or group 36 for M Sport version. Surprisingly, the cheaper i4 eDrive35 lands in group 38 in both Sport and M Sport specifications. Meanwhile, the M50 falls in group 43.
The recently updated Polestar 2 attracts much higher insurance ratings (groups 40-45), but the Tesla Model 3 is worse still in groups 48-50. This is due to industry body, Thatcham Research, identifying the Model 3 as only offering basic levels of protection for vehicle security and potentially being more open to theft.
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According to our latest data, the i4 will hold onto between 47 and 54 per cent of its original list price after three years and 36,000 miles of motoring. In case you’re wondering, the M50 is projected to retain the least value, while the entry-level eDrive35 leads the pack.
In comparison, the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 are expected to retain 46-48 and 48-53 per cent of their value respectively.
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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 performanceThe BMW i4 shows that an electric car can deliver plenty of driving feel and enjoyment
- 3Range, charging and running costs - currently readingThe 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