This saloon, whose launch is so important it is being prioritised over other BMW models regarding the allocation of precious semiconductor chips, arrives one decade after the Tesla Model S, five years after the smaller Model 3 and two years after the Porsche Taycan. In short, others have already demonstrated that it’s possible to build an electric four-door with usable driving range, engaging handling and the polish that luxury sports-saloon owners have always sought.
But while BMW isn’t breaking any ground, there’s still room at the top of this incipient class for a car with an exceptional combination of performance, practicality, quality, dynamism and price. Indeed, if you were to simply electrify the existing G20 3 Series, the result might well be that car.
Of course, while the i4 is based on the same platform as the 3 Series, simply swapping powertrain technology and achieving compelling results is much easier said than done.
The BMW i4 line-up at a glance
For now, the i4 can be had in only two guises: the less powerful RWD eDrive40, or the M-flavoured M50 tested here, which gets an extra motor on the front axle, for 4WD. Other derivatives may follow.
BMW has recently introduced an extremely powerful M60 version of the iX, and it has certainly left space for an entry-level i4 with less than the eDrive40’s 335bhp and a correspondingly lower asking price.