There’s premium quality for car lovers to enjoy in not one but TWO models from BMW’s electric range.
The Empire Strikes Back in the latest Car Wars episode, but this time the Four-ce is with you.
BMW has, for many years now, been ahead of the premium curve when it comes to its full-electric technology. And the German brand’s new i4 model is a whole new ball game.
First up was the i4 eDrive40 M Sport, which is the less expensive of the two and the one that should make up the core sales here in Ireland.
Realistically, the new i4 is an electric version of the 4 Series Gran Coupé, which is one of our favourite cars.
It features the same over-sized front grille at the front end and a slightly changed rear end due to not having to house the twin exhaust pipes that are found in its petrol sibling.
However, on the inside the i4 is treated to a few new touches to separate it from the 4 Series. It features BMW’s latest-generation infotainment technology, which has trickled down from the iX SUV.
The new very slick curved system incorporates a 12.3-inch instrument screen in front of the driver and a 14.9-inch touchscreen over the centre of the dash. Overall, there is a real premium feel to the interior and it is extremely spacious.
On the road the i4 eDrive40, unlike the i4 M50 which features two electric motors producing a whopping 544bhp, comes with a single 340bhp electric motor that drives the rear wheels.
BMW claim the a full charge will give you 590km. Realistically though, in normal everyday, mixed driving conditions you are looking at closer to 400km. That’s a really good number all the same when you think about it.
Prices for the new BMW i4 start at €63,565. Fantastic motor if your budget can stretch that far.
On the other hand there is the utterly bonkers M50 version. A car that has divided some loyal BMW drivers who firmly believe that an electric car doesn’t deserve an ‘M’ badge.
Well…to the doubters…you are so utterly wrong. The gamble has well and truly paid off here for the German manufacturer. While the rear-wheel-drive i4 eDrive40, as driven by Robbie, is the sensible choice there is also the all-wheel-drive (xDrive) i4 M50.
The upgraded version comes with a twin-motor and produces 537bhp, which is nearly 200 more horses than the regular version.
That means that the apparently ‘range’ of 500km is optimistic at best. Even in Eco mode at a snail’s pace on a closed road you’d struggle to get to 500km so let’s not focus on that too much. Let’s think of it as a 400km-range rocket ship but don’t set off needing more than 350km to have yourself a stress-free drive.
That said – as the week went on I learned how to drive this car properly. And by ‘properly’ I mean how to get the most out of your battery.
The M50’s performance is bonkers and is even more powerful than an M4. It even looks better in my opinion and if aesthetics were the only factor in ascertaining whether or not this deserves an M then hand it over right now.
The thing is, an M badge is so much more than one or two aspects. It infers a certain quality of finish, a driving performance to send shivers down your spine, a roar that exhilarates and a proud membership of an exclusive club.
The Sport Boost button takes this car into another realm beyond the regular ‘Sport Mode’, which is totally unnecessary but totally incredible. I spent most of my week in Sport Boost just because of the sound.
Yes…sound! You read that right. The M50 has a soundtrack. And yes…you read that right too. Hans Zimmer was hired to create an orchestral number worthy of being inserted in this already-crazy car.
With every tap of the accelerator you are greeted by cabin-filling whirlwind of sound (complemented by a light show in the top of the dash) that plants ear-to-ear smiles on passengers faces in an instant.
Helped by a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, the roaring soundtrack to your acceleration and braking adds a layer of fun I didn’t know I needed. It oozes excitement, as every sense is tingled and you are launched back into your seat and the gorgeous nose of the car is pointed upwards.
The traction here is ridiculous, thanks to the speed the two motors can shuffle the balance of power front and back.
Another feature of my press car that needs to be highlighted is the paint job. A car like this could come in any colour at all and still bring you all varieties of joy.
However, there is a Portimao Blue paint (at €3,333 extra) that I need to shout about. A shade that somehow manages to be matt and gloss at the same time and had people turning their heads at me all week.
It is incredible and needs to be seen to be believed.
So, in conclusion, the M50 version of the i4 is bonkers, fun, amazing, exciting, comfortable, safe and when you learn how to drive it ‘properly’ it can work economically. But would I buy it?
Nope, that’s because I would opt for the eDrive40 version, which I believe to be one of the best EVs I’ve ever had the privilege of driving.