The i4 currently comes in three states of ‘tune’ with different motor configurations for rear or all-wheel drive but sharing the same 83.9kWh battery pack. The i4 M50 we are enjoying is currently top of the tree for both the i4 and BMW’s BEV range as whole, offering 544PS (400kW) and very nearly 800Nm (590lb ft) of torque split between both axles via a synchronous electric motor on each. Range is claimed at 266 miles (429km) in mixed driving but we experienced a significant drop while enjoying the M50’s performance. And there is plenty of that; even without the Sport Boost mode which puts full power and torque at your disposal for up to ten seconds, there is plenty enough to bounce your bonce off the headrest both from rest and in what used to be called the ‘in gear’ benchmarks of 30-50mph and 50-70mph.
That battery pack does add more than a tonne of weight however and, regardless of how well it helps torsional rigidity, a 2,215kg all up weight is going to tell on performance. The 0-62mph is quoted at 3.9 seconds, nearly a second off what some testers have managed to wring out of an M3 Competition Xdrive. Nevertheless, it is still plenty enough to have you arriving at a corner much quicker than expected where you will find that BMW has managed to replicate a decent pedal feel and fuss-free shedding of speed. The company also claims that its adaptive regenerative braking programme means that 90 per cent of the time slowing down won’t require the use of the brakes at all. It works well with none of the unexpected lurch that some systems inflict on passengers.
On larger, faster roads the i4 disguises its weight well, helped by well judged steering and plenty of grip from both front and rear axles, allowing the driver to set a smooth rhythm. Extra bracing underneath and the swapping of the rear steel springs for air bags helps keep the extra mass under control for the most part. As the roads get tighter, twistier and rougher, however, the tonnage starts to tell. As with most BEVs on steel rather than air springs, the extra mass can occasionally cause some unpleasant pitching post-corner or over broken surfaces. On the whole the i4 is not a million miles away from the benchmark Porsche Taycan.