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BMW’s new i4 might be the Cinderella model in its blossoming EV range

It’s not just in fairy-tales that Cinderella goes to the ball.

The launch of BMW’s new fastback all-electric i4 coupe has been overshadowed somewhat by that of the big new flagship iX SUV, which has garnered much of the recent attention.

But despite being initially overlooked, the new i4, like ‘Cinders’, has proved a surprisingly eye-catching and alluring companion that has captured the hearts of many would-be Prince Charmings, including, dare I say, myself.

Is the i4 the Cinderella model in BMW’s EV range? Overshadowed by the ugly sister iX SUV, the i4 might be the plug-in Beemer Britons should be choosing instead

That’s not to say that the big iX SUV is a brash ‘ugly stepsister’. Far from it, though the large grille does still divide opinion.

But the stylish new i4 really does surprise and delight with some elegantly spirited performance.

I’ve been driving it out in BMW’s homeland in Bavaria, South West Germany, ahead of first deliveries arriving in the UK from December – just in time for Christmas.

I drove the top of the range i4 M50 – the first purely electric car from BMW’s motorsport-focused M division.

Priced from £63,905 and with electric motors on both axles and riding on larger 19 inch wheels, it develops a hefty 544 horse-power that propels this handsome looking ‘gran coupe’ with gusto from rest to 62mph in just 3.9 seconds, up to a top speed limited at 140mph.

Ray Massey has been driving the i4 in BMW's homeland in Bavaria, South West Germany, ahead of first deliveries arriving by the end of the year

Can the i4 emerge from the shadow of the BMW iX SUV?

Ray Massey has been driving the i4 in BMW’s homeland in Bavaria, South West Germany, ahead of first deliveries arriving by the end of the year. Can it emerge from the iX SUV’s (right) shadow?

The model for our first drive is the top of the range i4 M50 – the first purely electric car from BMW's motorsport-focused M division

The model for our first drive is the top of the range i4 M50 – the first purely electric car from BMW’s motorsport-focused M division

Priced from £63,905, it can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds, up to a top speed limited at 140mph

Priced from £63,905, it can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds, up to a top speed limited at 140mph

Comfortable cossetting sports seats mean you are securely held for the energising ride. It very much put me in mind of an American muscle car – but without the gas-guzzling engine or loud raucous noise.

For this battery-powered beauty is zero-emissions.

If you’re missing the sound, for accompaniment you can opt for a specially composed ‘soundtrack’ created by Oscar-winning Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, which gives a rising crescendo ‘electrified’ sound in place of the familiar engine noise. I like it, though it will be a personal choice.

The feisty and engaging ride and handling matches the i4’s sporty silhouette. Yet it will cruise silently and gracefully through towns and small villages, and is very easy to live with.

The i4 range starts from £51,905 for the i4 eDrive40 Sport and £53,405 for the eDrive40 M Sport

The i4 range starts from £51,905 for the i4 eDrive40 Sport and £53,405 for the eDrive40 M Sport

If you're missing the sound, for accompaniment you can opt for a specially composed 'soundtrack' created by Oscar-winning Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer

If you’re missing the sound, for accompaniment you can opt for a specially composed ‘soundtrack’ created by Oscar-winning Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer

Think of the i4 as the electrified substitute for the BMW 4 Series Coupe - and the i4 M50 is like the M4 without the booming soundtrack

Think of the i4 as the electrified substitute for the BMW 4 Series Coupe – and the i4 M50 is like the M4 without the booming soundtrack

The fetching paint colour on my car, exotically name ‘Frozen Potimao Blue’, fitted perfectly and was enhanced by the black grille.

It’s got a pretty tight turning circle of just over 12 metres and a smart, functional, minimalist interior, dominated by a wide digital screen. Perfect for tootling around areas with limited space for manoeuvre.

BMW i4 M50: Will it fit in my garage? 

Price: range starts from £51,905

Test car price: from £63,905

Length: 4783 mm

Width: 1852 mm

Height: 1448 mm

Wheelbase: 2856 mm

Weight: 2215 kg

Doors: 5

Seats: 5

Power: pure battery electric

Emissions: Zero

Motors: Two electric motors – front and rear Max power: 544 horse-power

Battery: 83.9kWh lithium ion

Transmission: single speed

0-to-62mph: 3.9 seconds

Top speed: 140mph

Range: 318 miles

Luggage: 470 litres to 1,290 litres (with rear seats folded)

Fast charging time (DC): 80 per cent in 31 minutes

On German autobahns it’s a real bahn-stormer – with that super-swift acceleration coming into its own both to overtake and to get neatly and quickly out of the way of potential problems.

And on winding mountain roads it’s goat-like nimbleness combined with sure-footedness is a joy.

The official range of 318 miles will get you from London to Newcastle – though with the energetic driving style that the i4 invites from its driver, I suspect that is more theoretical than practical.

Nevertheless, after a full day’s driving from Munich – where the car is built – to the Bavarian Alps, I arrived at my destination refreshed and invigorated, and a little disappointed at having to hand it back. I really had some fun.

My i4 M50 is one of three cars in the line-up coming to the UK from December – but accounts for more than half the orders placed so far.

The i4 range starts from £51,905 for the i4 eDrive40 Sport and £53,405 for the eDrive40 M Sport.

Both of these rear-wheel drive variants develop 340 horse-power which propels them from rest to 62mph in 5.7 seconds up to a top speed of 118mph, but with a longer range of up to 365miles.

A 10-minute booster charge will deliver an extra 102 miles of range (87 miles for the i4 M50). 

Standard UK features include 18-inch light alloy wheels, high gloss black or aluminium anthracite interior trim, high-gloss exterior trim, reversing camera, folding wing mirrors with auto dimming, and front heated seats. There’s also ‘Parking Assistant’, automatic air conditioning, eDrive ‘exterior sound’ and the Hans Zimmer electric soundtrack.

The i4 eDrive40 M Sport models gain 18-inch M light alloy wheel design, M Sport Leather steering wheel and M Sport exterior styling. 

My i4 M50 test car had a fair few performance and cosmetic enhancements. It was riding on larger 19′ M light alloy wheels. 

I was shielded by sun protection glass and my seating and ride comfort was aided by electric memory seats, M seat belts, and an M Sport Leather steering wheel. 

Comfortable cossetting sports seats mean you are securely held for the energising ride. It very much put me in mind of an American muscle car – but without the gas-guzzling engine or loud raucous noise

Comfortable cossetting sports seats mean you are securely held for the energising ride. It very much put me in mind of an American muscle car – but without the gas-guzzling engine or loud raucous noise

The sloped roof design means there's less rear headroom than a conventional saloon car, but it should be spacious enough for smaller children

The sloped roof design means there’s less rear headroom than a conventional saloon car, but it should be spacious enough for smaller children

There were sporty exterior styling tweaks and Driving Assistant came as standard. Various comfort and M Sport packs with adaptive suspension are also available.

This grand cruiser with plenty of pizazz really does deserve to come from under the shadow of the bigger sibling iX SUV and have a chance to shine in the spotlight.

For having met my BMW Cinderella, I really did have a Ball – oh yes I did – and can confirm: ‘The shoe fits.’   

And on winding mountain roads it's goat-like nimbleness combined with sure-footedness is a joy

And on winding mountain roads it’s goat-like nimbleness combined with sure-footedness is a joy

The i4 offers 470 litres of boot space with the rear backrests upright
With the rear seats folded down, capacity increases to 1,290 litres54

The i4 offers 470 litres of boot space with the rear backrests upright (left) or 1,290 litres when the back seats are folded all the way down (right)

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