2022 BMW i4 review: Australian first drive

2022-bmw-i4-review:-australian-first-drive
  • Doors and Seats

    CarGenericIcon

    5 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine

    ElectricEngineIcon

    Perm Magnet, LI

  • Engine Power

    EnginePowerIcon

    250kW, 430Nm

  • Fuel

    ElectricVehicleStationIcon

    46h 0m chg, 520km range

  • Manufacturer

    DrivetrainIcon

    RWD

  • Transmission

    TransmissionIcon

    1 Spd Red’n Gear

  • Warranty

    WarrantyIcon

    NA

  • Ancap Safety

    AncapSafetyIcon

    NA

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BMW has released a sleek mid-size electric sedan to rival the Tesla Model 3. However, as it’s not a ground-up redesign, it comes with some compromises.





  • Sleek design
  • Fair driving range
  • Brisk acceleration

  • Three year warranty when five years is the norm
  • Lacks the driving finesse of other BMWs
  • More expensive than a Tesla Model 3

German car maker BMW has joined the growing roster of companies lining up to take back some business from Tesla.

It’s taken some time, but BMW finally has a sedan option for new-car buyers wanting to embrace the electric-car era – rather than its experimental i3 hatch or high-priced i8 supercar.



To expedite the arrival of an electric BMW sedan in showrooms, rather than develop an all-new model from the ground up, BMW modified the existing platform it uses for its mid-size petrol cars.

The proportions and design are familiar because the 2022 BMW i4 electric car is based on the BMW 4 Series released in 2020.

While the driving range is fair for the class (up to 520km for the i4 eDrive40 and 465km for the high-performance i4 M50), the Tesla Model 3 aces both models in this regard – and offers quicker performance and a smaller price tag.



That said, this car is a step in the right direction on BMW’s path to electrification.

There are initially two models available: a BMW i4 eDrive40 from $99,900 plus on-road costs, and the BMW i4 M50 from $124,900 plus on-road costs. The full list of specifications for each model can be found here.

The more affordable model offers the longest driving range out of the pair (up to 520km in ideal conditions) but the BMW i4 M50 range is reduced to about 465km because of its epic acceleration.



While the BMW i4 eDrive40 is no slouch (0 to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds makes it quicker than most hot hatches), the BMW i4 M50 is next-level quick. A 0 to 100km/h time of 3.9 seconds puts that model in Porsche 911 territory, without using a drop of petrol.

While the BMW i4 may have a conventional albeit sleek sedan design (it is based on the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe), the interior looks like a concept car.

The cabin has a minimalist design with two large, wide digital display screens (12.3-inch for the instrument display, 14.9-inch for infotainment) which stretch across more than half the dashboard – and only the bare essentials when it comes to buttons, dials and cabin controls.

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The gear selector is a conventional-looking lever even though it is electronically controlled, and there is a dial in the centre console to help you navigate the infotainment system, which also features a touchscreen and ‘Hey BMW’ voice control.

The size of the door pockets is fair for the class, and visibility all around is pretty good despite the sleek window line.

Wide-view side mirrors and side blind-zone warning help navigate the daily grind.

There is a large centre console between the front seats and a covered storage compartment in front of the gear lever.

The back seats stow almost flat to create a large cargo hold with the boot.

There is good knee room in the back seat, but headroom is a bit tight for taller occupants due to the sloping roofline.



2023 BMW i4 sedan
Seats Five
Boot volume 470L seats up / 1290L seats folded
Length 4783mm
Width 1852mm
Height 1448mm
Wheelbase 2856mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

The widescreen infotainment screen houses embedded navigation, Apple Car Play, Android Auto and digital radio.

Because it is so huge, the navigation screen provides more detail than most other maps.

In models equipped with the optional forward-facing camera, the display will layer an arrow over the real-life image to make sure you don’t miss a turn.

Wireless phone charging is standard but the pad is not quite large enough for big smartphones with bulky protective cases.

The latest iteration of BMW’s infotainment system is more intuitive than before, but you’d be well advised to get lessons on how to use it – and discover some of its shortcuts – before driving it off the showroom floor.

As with many electric cars (including Tesla), a basic AM radio is absent due to the potential for signal interference from the car’s electrical system – and because AM is being phased out in Europe, where this car was developed.



It is technically possible to equip electric cars with AM radio, but it requires some additional engineering.

As we’ve mentioned before, we believe the standard fitment of AM radio is a potential safety issue, as it is the one reliable form of communication during flood and fire emergencies. In areas where there are no phone signals, AM radio can alert communities about impending danger, and when to flee an affected area.

The BMW i4 has every available piece of crash-avoidance technology, including high- and low-speed autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and front and rear sensors.

However, the speed-sign recognition system was hit and miss on our preview drive.

And the BMW i4 only has six airbags in a category where eight or nine are the norm.

Conspicuous by their absence: rear-seat side airbags, a centre airbag, and an airbag for the driver’s knee.



That said, BMW may have been able to achieve a high occupant-protection score without these extra airbags.

The results from crash tests by European and Australasian NCAP were not available as this article was published. ANCAP has tested the related 4 Series coupe and convertible models, both rated five starts in 2019, but not the 4 Series Gran Coupe or its body-double, the i4.

2023 BMW i4 sedan
ANCAP rating Untested

Compared to a Tesla Model 3, the BMW i4 range is expensive. It’s at least 50 per cent dearer than Australia’s top-selling electric car, in like-for-like model grades.

However, buyers may prefer the better build quality of the BMW, compared to Tesla cars which are well known for paint defects, misaligned panels and annoying squeaks and rattles.

BMW i4 servicing costs seem reasonable, though technicians don’t need to do much except check the windscreen washer fluid and brake fluid, and monitor brakes and tyres.

What is below par: a three-year warranty when the industry norm is five years or longer.



BMW is one of the few companies steadfastly holding onto a three-year warranty even though Australian Consumer Law would likely require most manufacturing defects to be fixed free of charge up to the five-year mark.

At least the battery pack is covered by an 8-year/160,000km warranty.

At a glance 2023 BMW i4 sedan
Warranty Three years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months / condition-based
Servicing costs $1240 (4 years), $1765 (6 years)
Energy cons. (claimed) 16.1-19.1kWh/100km (i4 eDrive40)
Battery size 80.7kWh – 520km range, ADR (i4 eDrive40)

80.7kWh – 465km range, ADR (i4 M50)

Both the BMW i4 eDrive40 and BMW i4 M50 quickly dispel the myth that electric cars are slow.

We didn’t get a chance to run 0 to 100km/h numbers on our VBox timing equipment because it was wet during our preview drive.

However, there is no doubt both of these cars are perky.

They both accelerate with a rush from zero to, say, 80km/h. But with a claimed 0 to 100km/h time of 3.9 seconds – which is Porsche-quick – the BMW i4 M50 accelerates almost too fast for your brain to catch up.



It’s not only the sheer acceleration but how instant the response is once you floor the accelerator pedal.

As is the case with most electric cars, the BMW i4 starts to have an asthma attack once you start to eclipse the speed limit.

It’s clear these cars have been designed – and geared – to get the most out of daily driving.

Unlike some electric cars which can have a sensitive brake pedal feel, the BMW i4 has a more intuitive pedal movement, though there is still the slightest hint of an initial bite as it switches from the electric motor to friction brakes.

Steering is direct, evenly weighted, and precise.

However, you notice the weight of the BMW i4 battery pack in tight turns. It feels like a bigger and heavier car than its dimensions suggest.



As long as you drive with some extra care in corners – especially in the wet – you should be a long way off spooking yourself.

Key details 2023 BMW i4 sedan
Engine Single electric motor (i4 eDrive40)

Dual electric motors (i4 M50)
Power 250kW (i4 eDrive40

400kW (i4 M50)
Torque 430Nm (i4 eDrive40)

795Nm (i4 M50)
Drive type Rear-wheel drive (i4 eDrive40)

All-wheel-drive (i4 M50)
Power to weight ratio 117.6kW/t (i4 eDrive40)

187.8kW/t (i4 M50)
Weight (tare) 2125kg (i4 eDrive40)

2290kg (i4 M50)
Turning circle 12.5m

First impressions are generally favourable. My main reservation is the price compared to a Tesla Model 3.

Although it’s not quite in the same price range, the more expensive BMW iX – a new-from-the-ground-up electric SUV – is a better and more complete overall electric-car than the BMW i4 in my opinion.

Given our preview drive was brief and in wet weather, we will reserve final judgment until we get the BMW i4 into the Drive garage.

In the meantime, if you have your heart set on a sleek electric sedan that’s not a Tesla, the BMW i4 is worth a look.

Just be sure to drive it on familiar roads so you can feel the weight of this car.



At close to 2.2-tonnes, it’s as heavy as a Toyota HiLux and almost 25 per cent heavier than a Holden Commodore V8.

Other electric cars we’ve driven lately are better at disguising their excess bodyweight.

Ratings Breakdown

2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 M Sport Gran Coupe

8.0/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

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