2024 BMW i4 xDrive40 Road Test

Michael Bettencourt
June 24, 2024
BMW’s all-wheel drive i4 xDrive40 brings a driver-focused middle ground between performance and luxury – despite the range and price advantages of its main Tesla Model 3 rival.
red BMW i4 xDrive40 parked

2024 BMW i4 xDrive40 Review

There’s lots of impressive performance and luxury available in the BMW i4, the company’s all-electric four-door “Gran Coupe” (think of it as low-slung sedan, but with a hatch instead of a trunk). That’s true even in the xDrive40 trim that’s one level down from the most powerful and sport-oriented M50 model.

The burnt orange all-wheel drive 2024 i4 xDrive40 I tested offers notably more thrust and foul-weather traction compared to rear-drive i4 models, along with many welcome items you might expect in most cars – but won’t find in its closest rival, the Tesla Model 3: Apple CarPlay, AndroidAuto, AM radio (or its digital equivalent), a screen with gauges directly in front of the driver, and turn signal stalks.

close-up of BMW logo

Feels Like a BMW, but Trails Tesla in Key Areas

But, when it comes down to serious research, and then recommending an all-electric sport sedan to a family member, as I did recently, it’s tough not to note that the i4 has key shortcomings compared to the recently updated Tesla Model 3. The i4 has less driving range, less space inside, and slower acceleration – plus the BMW is a lot more expensive, with this trim level starting at roughly $14,000 more than the equivalent Model 3 Long Range AWD.

If you happen to opt for the supercar-quick (and also lower-priced) Model 3 Performance, the Tesla is also now eligible for the $7,500 federal tax rebate at the time of purchase –  something the i4 doesn’t offer unless you lease it. (Leasing is a way to mitigate the risk of resale values, and to take advantage of the federal rebate no matter the make or model of EV – and now, your dealer can pass along the savings up-front.)

Oh yes, the Model 3 also has easy access to Tesla’s superior Supercharger DC quick-charging network, makes longer drives much easier to plan and largely stress-free. There are encouraging signs that most other large EV charging networks are also improving, but it’s clear also that the Supercharger network right now is another major advantage for Tesla vehicles.

There’s a reason why there are so many Model 3s on the road, and why Tesla is starting to be seen as more of a tech brand than a luxury vehicle brand.

BMW i4 xDrive40 Features

Yet, the Model 3 was way down on my family member’s electric sedan wish list – she’s a rare anti-SUV new car shopper too – and for buyers like her that want an EV from a familiar brand, that feels like something more familiar to drive, the i4 might be right near the top of your consideration list, especially on a good lease deal.

She appreciates a bit of exclusivity – or at least having something a little more unique, which the i4 certainly is, even if its overall body shape is shared with the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, which in turn is a sleeker version of BMW’s 3 Series sedan. The large front twin-kidneys, which are grilles on the gas versions, are the sensor panels on the i4, and they’re not to everyone’s taste; but they add a more striking overall street presence wherever it’s parked.

Inside, on top of the niceties listed above, there’s also a head-up display that shows you current set speed for cruise as well as the current speed limit and the assisted driving mode. There’s also a feature-heavy steering wheel, with cruise and ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) settings on the left, and your infotainment controls on the right, including a talk button with ‘hey, BMW’ functionality if you’d like to ask it for something, the usual channel up and channel down function, as well as a rotary knob that makes it easy to pick from your preset favorites.

The i4 offers the advanced SiriusXM 360L service too, which provides more digital and satellite radio stations including extra music and sports channels – which may come in handy over this summer with Euro soccer, Copa America and the summer Olympics all happening. These digital stations are a boon in downtown areas, where buildings or underground parking garages can block satellite signals, but the embedded SIM card uses data to continue these channels uninterrupted, as long as you have cell phone service.

BMW i4 xDrive40: Driving Experience

On the road, the i4 definitely provides the feel of a serious sport sedan, its rapid pace courtesy of 396 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s good enough for a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds, says BMW.

The suspension soaks up bumps fairly well, but definitely with an edge, with 18-inch tires standard or 19s available. It’s no Cadillac or Lexus in terms of isolation over bumps, but considering the relatively flat handling, aided by the large battery running underneath it, the i4 corners very flat on highway ramps and beckoning twisty roads.

Steering feel on the highway is direct, but not nervous, with little slop in the steering wheel when you’re going straight. So, there is some sneeze factor to it, but again it’s a good compromise between comfort and responsiveness.

When using the adaptive cruise control, if you take your hands off the steering wheel for too long, there are warning lights just above the thumb wheels on the steering wheel that blink yellow to say, “hey, this is where your hands belong,” and green when all is good. They also light up green when using auto park to say the car has taken over the steering, all is working automatically, then red if (when) you take over. It apparently doesn’t like that.

When on a longer drive, the i4 xDrive40 is rated to travel a total range of 279 to 307 miles, depending on wheel and tire choices. Its battery offers a usable 80.7 kWh of energy, with a top charging speed of 205 kW, which BMW estimates will take roughly 25 minutes to DC quick charge from 10-80 percent at a suitable Level 3 charger. That’s assuming a 150 kW charge rate, says BMW, which is almost exactly what I achieved – 145 kW, on a 150 kW charger – on my best of three quick charges.

BMW i4 EV Charging Set to Improve with Supercharger Access

Like many manufacturers, BMW has struck a deal with Tesla for access to its Supercharger network. The originally-announced timeline for access was early 2025 for BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce BEVs, but delays thanks to the disruption of Tesla’s mass firings of its Supercharger department has brought those original dates into question for all automakers. Rivian and Ford drivers can currently access the Supercharger network with a plug adapter; it’s not yet clear if and when BMW will offer something similar.

From 2025 onward, BMW’s new vehicles will likely employ the same smaller and more elegant charge connector as Tesla’s own vehicles. Formerly dubbed the NACS (North American Charging Standard) connector, the Tesla-style plug is now an industry standard, known as SAE J3400. Expect it to begin appearing on many 2025 vehicles sold in North America.

Some potential i4 buyers may want to wait for that new connector to not have to fiddle with adapters, especially if they’re moving from a Tesla and already have a Tesla wall connector for home charging. But that’s not the only reason why quick-charging opportunities for the i4 will improve.

BMW is also one of seven automakers that will jointly launch the new Ionna network in North America, along with GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Hyundai and Stellantis. Long-term, Ionna eventually plans to have 30,000 high-speed chargers available along major highways and in urban areas across North America, and recently announced plans to have its first DC chargers up and running by the end of 2024.

2024 BMW i4 xDrive40 interior dashboard

2025 BMW i4: Upgrades Inside and Out

Also coming by the end of this year is a refreshed version of the i4 for the 2025 model year, with revised wheel designs, headlights, taillights, and kidney grille accents. It’s a mild facelift designed to keep pace with rapidly evolving competitors.

Inside, illuminated air vents are added, while various hard buttons for climate controls are removed for a cleaner overall look. A clear shifter knob and a flat-bottom steering wheel become options, to go with revised seat materials and new interior trim choices. Production of these models is set for July 2024, with arrivals at dealers likely a few months after that in North America.

These are not major changes, but perhaps enough to address perhaps the greatest issue with the current 2024 i4, and the xDrive40 model in particular: its out-the-door price relative to its main rival.