What’s the best EV for just being normal? | Top Gear
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Wednesday 29th March
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What’s the best EV for just being normal?

Electric cars might be the new normal, but the i4 brings some of the old normal and mixes it in nicely

There are two distinct types of electric car – those that look like electric cars, and those that don’t. Some people want a flashy electric looking car to flaunt their environmental credentials, a vehicle that makes everyone else feel bad because they don’t recycle enough. 

But of course some people just want an electric car that looks like a car – one that’s familiar from the cars they have driven before, with recognisable doors and wheels and suchlike. A car that doesn’t scream as they go down the road because they don’t want everyone to look at them or feel sad about not recycling enough. 

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It’s a mark of the maturity of the electric car market that we’ve started to move from the boorish, in yer face EVs that first heralded the arrival of an exciting new technology – catnip to early adopters, you understand – and now companies have started to cater for everyone else. Not that BMW drivers are quite capable of being lumped in any sort of ‘everyone else’ category, but you understand the point. 

Its understated car-ness is the reason we quite like the BMW i4, even if it isn’t one of those cars that gets everyone skipping about with something approaching glee. We even gave it an award in our 2022 Electric Awards. Best Electric Executive Car, no less. It costs the same as a petrol 4 Series on finance and it’s easy to live with. 

It’s basically just an electric 4 Series. We say just, who doesn’t love a nice 4 Series? It’s about as BMW as a BMW gets, this is the cream filling in the BMW cake. Of course there are things that have been changed – subtle electric styling (the grille works much nicer like this, doesn’t it?) as well as a new floor, suspension and upgraded interior. There's the usual M option, of course, but that rather defeats the point.

But if you want to subtly brag about your car – and who doesn’t? – then what better little titbit than the fact that renowned Hollywood soundsmith Hans Zimmer has singlehandedly crafted the noise that emanates from your i4 as you glide along. He probably spent ages on it, too. 

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Of course, there’s nothing particularly normal about running an electric car – it’s a different proposition, a new way of doing things. And it takes time to get used to, the foibles of the charging networks, trying to work out how far you can push the electric range before you scamper for the nearest plug, enjoying the different feel of electric traction. 

Cars like the i4, though, they make that transition that little bit less painful, they inject some continuity into the process of change, until electric cars become the new normal, then just normal. Just unflashy, everyday cars.

Best EV for just being normal – BMW i4 eDrive40 Sport
Price: £53,480
Range: Up to 365 miles
Engine: 335bhp e-motor
Battery: 84kWh
Top speed: 118mph
0–62mph: 5.7secs
Boot space: 470 litres 
People who will give it a second look: 17%

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