2024 BMW i4 xDrive40 First Drive Review: Gold-EV-Locks

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Love It

Leave It

Twin-motor power and poise

Substantial price increase over eDrive40

Stellar ride/handling balance

Lacks adaptive dampers

Best 3 or 4 Series shape

...do people still hate the nose?

Our favorite EV just got better.

The BMW i4 already won our EV of the Year accolade. Between the smooth operator eDrive40 and the superpowered M50, the i4 showed that BMW’s twin-pronged approach of offering both gas and electric versions of the same cars worked. Not only that, the electric ones were also better; something we’ve since seen repeated in the i7.

Not satisfied with a single win, the folks in Munich have doubled the i4 lineup for the new year. The entry-level eDrive35 brings the cost of entry down, while this xDrive40 offers up the added poise and power of twin-motor propulsion without the price tag of the M50.

What’s new?

As the trim name implies, this i4 has sends its power to all four wheels, meaning a dual-motor setup (there’s no physical drive connection between the axles). While the number suffix remains the same as the rear-drive eDrive40, the actual total outputs are up to 396 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque—increases of 61 and 126, respectively. That’s basically M4-of-a-decade-ago territory. It’s the most powerful 40-badged Bimmer around; while BMW quotes a 5.1-second dash to 62 mph (100 km/h), I’d be shocked if real-world testing doesn’t peg it in the mid-4s.

Beyond that, the basic setup is the same. An 81.1-kilowatt-hour (usable) battery pack is slung low in the chassis, and the excellent four-door 4 Series Gran Coupe shape is draped over it. This is the best version of the 3 or 4 Series: sure, it’s got the bucktooth grille, but the classic long-nose, short-deck proportions look great in four-door form, avoiding the ungainly visual heft over the haunches of the coupe. Plus it’s a liftback, so you get added practicality. No wonder BMW Canada has kept the Gran Coupe basically only electric, save for the odd special edition.

This particular tester looks extra-special in the wonderful Mora Metallic, a rich purple hue. It’s priced extra-special too: that’ll be $4,500, please and thank you.

So how’s it drive?

Like a modern BMW should. This i4 is effortlessly quick, more than enough for the day-to-day and very much suggesting the 536-horsepower M50 is a case of diminishing returns.

More than that, the xDrive40 is just a little more mellow. The M50 is a sledgehammer of a car, all taut responses, explosive power, and adaptive darned-near-everything. This middle-child model keeps the front-strut, rear-air-suspension setup but finds a balance more in the middle of the ride-handling see-saw. What little it sacrifices in sharpness matters little except to those who put their cars on track; yet its comfy, pliable ride over sometimes-craggy South Carolina roads suggests a better daily experience. The steering is light yet unerringly accurate. Are the whirring Iconic Sounds gimmicky? Sure, but when you’re hustling the i4, the added feedback afforded by those Hans Zimmer tunes really does help.

BMW has figured out EV braking in a way few others have. There’s a positive feel to the left pedal, followed by serious bite when needed—good for a car likely weighing 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms). Regenerative braking blends in seamlessly, and like every other electron-munching Bimmer, there’s the option for one-pedal driving. It’s easy to get used to, and the live efficiency gauge shows the negative kWh-spend, which is a nice touch to better visualize just how much the system scrapes back.

Speaking of charging, the i4 xDrive40 can suck up electrons at a rate of up to 205 kW when hooked to a DC fast charger. That translates to the standard 10-to-80-percent run in 31 minutes.

Creature (of) comforts

The i4 cabin is a pleasant space to see the miles melt away. The seats are of course supportive, pleasantly (but not overly) bolstered and with an adjustable thigh support to aid the long-legged.

Fit and finish are top-notch, and those twin screens wow with bright, stylish menus and dials. There’s an easy logic to the physical controls that makes it short work to get familiar in here—I just wish BMW hadn’t eliminated quite so many buttons, especially the climate ones.

Rear-seat space is adult-friendly, though more for two than three. The liftback offers up 16.6 cubic feet (470 liters) of storage, and that more than doubles to 45.5 cubes (1,290 L) with the rear bench folded.

Tech showcase

iDrive 8.5 now occupies the i4’s twin curved display. The half-step upgrade brings a host of improvements to the overall usability of the system. What used to be a tile-topia now requires less poking and prodding, as the main menu keeps navigation front and center along with a host of driver-selectable information squares to the side. It’s still possible to get bogged down in sub-sub-menus, but it’s far less common.

Like most other modern BMWs, the i4 offers up plenty of options to best handle all this information. Head-up display? Clear and crisp, and easy to use. Redundant rotary dial if you don’t want fingerprints all over the screen? Done. Accurate voice assistant? Ja.

Then there’s the stuff you don’t see. A heat pump ensures the i4 operates at its best in more extreme temps. Those twin electric motors already feature zero rare-earth metals, so naysayers have one less argument to make.

Dollars and sense

Going for the xDrive40 pegs the i4’s starting price at $62,595 (including destination). This car’s $77,920 as-tested sticker is a tough pill, though a serious $6,000 of that comes from the pretty paint and Oyster Vernasca leather ($1,500). The M Sport package ($2,200) does give the i4 a more assertive square jaw, though the 19-inch wheels trim a not-insignificant 28 miles (45 km) off the xDrive40’s lineup-best 307 miles (494 km) of range. I’d skip the $950 black mirror caps, but not the adaptive Laserlights ($1,000).

I still find it slightly chintzy that BMW charges $1,900 to add heated front seats and a steering wheel to a $62k car, though the package includes the Iconic Sounds, wireless charging, and the curved display with HUD. The Parking Assistance Package ($700) is a great deal for the assist, sensors and 360-degree camera. BMW’s Traffic Jam and Active Driving assists are some of the smoothest in the business, but a little pricey at $1,700 extra.

There are precious few four-door EVs at this price, performance, and prestige level? Model 3 Performance? I hope you like interior trim squeaks. Hyundai Ioniq 6? Very cool, but not luxury. Mercedes EQE? A size larger, and not as engaging.

Final thoughts: 2024 BMW i4 xDrive40 First Drive Review

With all the hoopla from other brands about ground-up designs for EVs, it could be easy to dismiss BMW’s more careful approach as unambitious. Lazy, even. But the truth is that the i4 evolves the de facto sport sedan—the 3 Series—for the electric era precisely because it builds off the same finely honed foundation. Simply put, this is the best version of the best small EV luxury four-door out there.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

More by Kyle Patrick

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Phillip Loersch Phillip Loersch on Dec 29, 2023

    What is BMW thinking? Loss of what was a signature dual kidney grill.

  • Jeff W. Jeff W. on Jan 03, 2024

    That black grotesquely shaped grill is a visual blight, and the license plate in the middle makes it even worse. It alone would cause me not buy this car, no matter its other virtues.