TG's best electric executive car: the BMW i4 | Top Gear
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Saturday 23rd September
Electric Awards 2022

TG's best electric executive car: the BMW i4

The sort of car that built BMW's reputation, now with added electricity

What is it?

The 4 Series Gran Coupe was always one of our favourite BMWs, a stylish but useful hatchback, and about as big as you'd want a car to be. And of course a joy to drive. Well the i4 apparently gives you all that, but propelled by electricity. Truth be told it's not that simple. To make it worthy of the name, BMW had to change almost all the underfloor and re-shape the suspension to make room for battery and motors. So now the Tesla Model 3 has a serious rival from a company that does what 'legacy' car companies can do best.

Give me some details about the BMW i4.

It comes in two forms, the eDrive 40i and the M50 xDrive. Both have the same battery. You can get up to 365 miles WLTP range in the 40i if you go for the smaller wheels, and still have zero-to-62 in under six seconds. Step up to the twin-motor M50 xDrive and that acceleration number drops to 3.9 seconds, so we're in Tesla territory, with a properly face-bending overtaking shove. But the extra motor plus wider tyres on the M50 take range down to a still-respectable 318 miles. A new screen system looks great but loses you some buttons, boo.

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Why should I care about the BMW i4?

This is the sort of car that, decades ago, built BMW's reputation. It's low and lithe to sit in, with a beautifully made cabin. Its steering, accelerator and brakes know what you're thinking and do exactly what you're wanting. Suspension is taut yet refined. Like any BMW it's not cheap, but on that front we should point out some happy news: the cheaper RWD eDrive40 is more subtle and engaging through bends than the M50 xDrive. The powertrain? 'Turbine-smooth' and 'razor-sharp' are the reasons we always loved BMW straight-sixes. The i4's e-motors do that even better.

Why did you give the BMW i4 an award?

Because it shows how electric cars can throw off their shackles. They aren't eccentric or oddball or compromised. An i4 costs the same on finance as a 430i. The i4 began with one of the best all-round car formats from one of the best all-round carmakers. They electrified it with commitment and expertise, and the result is as good as or better than something fuelled by petrol. OK it lacks access to Tesla's supercharging but as an EV it is as good as a Tesla, and as a car it's significantly better.

For the full story pick up the Electric Awards issue of Top Gear magazine

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