BMW’s first electric saloon – the i4 – offers up to 544bhp and over 360 miles of range

BMW has revealed the specifications and prices for its first electric saloon, the i4. It will be available in two spec levels, each with a different powertrain, but with both offering strong performance and very competitive range. Perhaps most importantly, BMW is promising a continuation of the driving dynamics that traditionally define its cars.

Both single and dual-motor versions of the i4 will be available when the car is launched in the UK this November. Aimed squarely at the premium mid-sized saloon segment, where the ICE-powered equivalent 4 Series sits, the i4 will occupy a space without much in the way of competition until the Mercedes EQE arrives later this year, or early next year.

Powertrains and performance

BMW’s much-lauded fifth-generation eDrive technology is the basis of the i4’s motive power, integrating the latest power electronics, charging tech, battery and the motors themselves. The halo car in the range is the i4 M50 which gets a very M car-like 544hp and 586lb-ft in Sport Boost mode, enabling it to hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds and sprint to a limited top speed of 140mph.

This prodigious power is delivered by a dual motor setup, with a 258hp motor on the front axle and a 313hp motor on the rear. That full 544hp output is available for over ten seconds at a time with the Sport Boost function which can be engaged multiple times in succession. As you’d expect, that four-wheel drive means torque can be adjusted almost instantaneously through each wheel to improve handling dynamics.

Accompanying the i4 M50 is the i4 eDrive40 – a single motor version with 340hp and 317lb-ft for a 0-62mph sprint in 5.7 seconds and a limited top speed of 118mph. Whilst it doesn’t get the all-wheel drive handling advantages of its more powerful sibling, the eDrive40 still gets near-actuator wheel slip limitation (essentially a digital limited-slip diff) to help it shuffle power effectively.

Battery and charging

Both cars are powered by an 80kWh battery mounted low in the car’s chassis. This enables the eDrive40 to achieve 367 miles on the WLTP test at a consumption of 20-16kWh/62 miles. The more powerful M50 achieves 316 miles on the test at 24-19kWh/62 miles, with efficiency aided by it defaulting to rear motor power under normal driving conditions.

At the high end, the i4 can be charged at 200kW DC which adds 102 miles in ten minutes on the eDrive40, and 87 miles on the M50. An 11kW on-board charger affords a complete zero-to-full charge in 8.5 hours.

Exterior styling

The BMW i4 gets the brand’s new and somewhat divisive grille, though the overall gran coupe body style is far more conventional. It achieves a 0.24 drag coefficient, so the sleek four-door styling is functional as well as aesthetic. At 4785mm long, 1852mm wide and 1448mm tall with a 2856mm wheelbase, the i4 is almost the same size as the 4 Series.

In standard Sport trim, the i4 eDrive40 gets 17 inch aero alloys or 18 inch double spoke wheels as well as the M Sport exterior pack, which includes an M Sport spoiler and Aluminium Rhombicycle Anthracite trim. The i4 M50 gains styling features shared with true M cars with a variety of external trim elements in different colours and textures, as well as additional air intakes to aid brake cooling. Either 18 inch aero wheels or 19 inch M light double spoke wheels can be specified.

Interior styling and tech

At the heart of the car’s interior technology is BMW’s latest iDrive and Operating System 8. These should offer intuitive, quick and personalised controls via both touch and voice inputs – with the aid of BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant which has been developed to ‘learn’ and adjust to a driver’s behaviours and habits. As you’d expect, over-the-air updates will offer upgrades in the future.

The i4’s cockpit features a 12.3 inch information display complemented by a 14.9 inch BMW Curved Display which is angled towards the driver, offering easier visibility and access to iDrive controls. Live Cockpit Plus is fitted as standard and includes an array of connectivity options, plus a standard DAB+, six speaker sound system. A Harman Kardon system with 16 speakers and 464 watts is standard in the M50 and optional in the eDrive40.

Standard equipment across both models includes a reversing camera, parking assistant, auto air conditioning, ambient lighting and LED lights front and rear.

Price and availability

As mentioned, the BMW i4 is due to launch in the UK in November this year. The i4 eDrive40 will come in at £51,905 for the Sport trim and £53,405 for the M Sport trim. The i4 M50 costs £63,905 on the road.

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