Practicality and Boot Space
If you’re comparing the i4 to Tesla’s ubiquitous Model 3, then it’s worth noting that the BMW is pegged back a little by not being a dedicated electric car. It’s a petrol-powered 4-Series with a slim battery pack slotted in its floor. So unlike dedicated electric cars with clever packaging, the rear quarters of the i4 are comparatively compromised and fall behind the competition. Have a good sit in the back before you commit, especially if you’ll be carrying adults in the back with regularity. Boot space is decent, mind, and it’s accessed via a large hatchback rather than a dinky saloon opening.And it’s a brilliantly put together thing, those tangible links to BMW’s regular range meaning there’s nothing overly new or scary here. There are proper switches for the main controls like the mirrors and window demisters. And if you don’t like the touchscreen or can’t use it in gloves, then there’s the trusty iDrive wheel.
Technology and Safety
20W Summary: Lots of technology and neat new touches but built into a traditional layout of buttons and scroll wheels. Lovely.
Remember the fuss iDrive caused when it launched two entire decades ago? That’s all a thing of the past, as it now works fabulously. This is actually BMW’s 8th generation of the iDrive operating system, and while you may need to spend a bit of time getting used to it, it's fast, intuitive and pretty darn good once you do.
There is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as smartphone mirroring and even a new over-the-air function that can update software via an 4G SIM card that lives in the car. It’s always nice to know that your car will have up-to-date maps and things - just like your phone. What’s less convincing is Gesture Control, which is desperate to operate the car’s functions with kung-fu like swipes of your hand. If you (or a passenger) gesticulate a lot while chatting, it’ll get itself all in a muddle. It’s best turned off.
A much bigger success story is the i4’s intelligent personal assistant, which learns where you go and how you do things and suggests things that might actually be helpful. If you get to the office every day and have to swipe a security pass at the car park entrance, the car’s brain will notice that you often open the window at the same location. So it will suggest that it does it automatically as you approach that point. Brilliant, huh?