Anyone who has read my article on the BMW iX3 will know that I wasn’t too impressed that BMW produced an SUV with a small 750kg maximum towing capacity. Well, BMW now has another pure EV, the i4 which is a salon/coupe/hatchback all rolled into one. The i4 is currently going to be offered in two spec levels a cheaper RWD i4 eDrive 40 and the more expensive AWD i4 M50. Both versions feature the same 80 kWh battery and both come with a 1,600 kg maximum towing capacity, hence much more capable than the iX3.
Key BMW i4 Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 1,600 kg
- Availability – Late 2021
- Price – Starting £54,000 (eDrive40), £62,000 (M50)
- Range (EV Database) – 295 Miles (eDrive40), 280 Miles (M50)
- Estimated Towing Range (50%) – 148 Miles (eDrive40), 140 Miles (M50)
- Maximum Charge Rate – 200 kW (eDrive40 & M50)
BMW i4 HP & Torque Figures
- eDrive40 – 335 HP and 317 lb-ft of torque
- M50 – 536 HP and 586 lb-ft of torque
BMW i4 Towing Capabilities
The official description of the i4 from BMW is a ‘gran coupé’, which personally I find a bit odd because not that long ago a coupe was a two-door, but then I suppose gran refers to the 4 door design. In terms of styling, the i4 is very conventional, and I think that’s very deliberate on BMW’s part. The first pure EV from BMW was the little i3 released back in 2013 and it was not to many people’s liking on the styling front, especially many existing BMW owners. Hence, with this car the i4 and with the iX3 besides some electric blue highlights on the bodywork, they do not stand out as electric cars, and I think that’s the angle they are not going for, just consistent BMW styling across their entire range.
Anyway, enough about the looks/styling of the i4, what about its towing capabilities/features and price point, how does the i4 stack up against the competition? Well, first off as discussed above, a 1,600 kg towing capacity is much more than the 750kg offered with the iX3 which is good to see. I also like how BMW are providing the performance variant the M50 with a towing capacity. Its pretty typical for car manufacturers not to give their ‘sporty’ cars a towing capacity even though the vehicle will be more than capable of towing, the Porsche Taycan for instance.
In terms of range 280 to 295 miles of real-world range referencing the EV-Database figures are reasonably respectable. Though obviously as I discuss in my EV Towing Guide articles, chop those figures in half as a towing distance estimation. Again, the maximum DC charging rate of 200 kW on both the cheaper eDrive40 and more expensive M50 is pretty respectable against some of the competition. In terms of what the competition is for the i4 though, that’s a bit of a tricky one.
BMW i4 vs The Competition, Which Is….?
So much of the established motoring press have been doing the typical Tesla comparisons with the BMW i4, and they have been comparing it to the Tesla Model 3 which makes sense, sort of. The Model 3 is a 4 door saloon of a generally similar size to the BMW i4 and is another premium-priced pure EV. In terms of practicality, I would actually say the i4 is likely the more practical due to the hatchback rear door compared to the small boot door on the Model 3. Granted, the i4 has no ‘frunk’, or front boot which is a bit of a disappointment, but I would personally take a hatchback rear door over a saloon boot any day, and that’s from someone who owns a saloon.
When it comes to range the Tesla Model 3 in long-range form has a real-world range of around 290 miles, so similar to the BMW i4. In terms of towing capacity currently Tesla states the Model 3 can tow up to 1,000 kg. I say currently because Tesla keeps tweaking the towing figure, but let’s say around 1,000 kg. Hence, the BMW i4 has the edge in the towing capacity stakes. However, the Long Range Tesla Model 3 is around £47,000, hence significantly cheaper than the BMW i4 starting from £54,000.
Furthermore, the Long Range Tesla Model 3 is AWD and the cheaper BMW i4 the eDrive40 is only RWD. Again, what I will give BMW kudos for is the sporty M50 still being given the 1,600 kg towing capacity. The Tesla Model 3 Performance has not been given a towing capacity at all.
Really, the Tesla Model Y will be more of a direct comparison on price and towing capacity with the i4. Then again, the Tesla Model Y is a compact SUV and the i4 is a ‘gran coupé, so they are not really directly comparable in terms of internal space, hence my title with a question mark. Let’s put Tesla products to one side, the fact is there isn’t really any direct pure EV ‘gran coupé competition on the market currently. So let’s just look at other similarly premium-priced EVs that can tow.
The BMW i4 vs Scandinavian/German Rivals
The BMW i4 is more closely aligned in terms of body shape (hatchback) and towing capacity to the Polestar 2. Though as with the Tesla Model 3 above, the Polestar 2 is cheaper than the BMW by several thousand pounds. However, the real-world range of the BMW i4 will be about 40 miles more than the Polestar 2, so you are getting more range for the additional money. The BMW i4 is a much better deal than the Volvo XC40 which is based on the same platform as the Polestar 2 but is a bonkers £60K.
The Audi E-Tron is now available as a Sportback 55 variant which I suppose is pretty close to the styling/size of the BMW i4. The E-Tron has a higher towing capacity at 1,800 kg, but it also notoriously electron thirsty and not a very efficient EV. Therefore, in real-world range results, the E-Tron is around 230 miles, and half that for towing range. With the E-Tron Sportback 55 priced at £80K, in this comparison again I think the BMW i4 is likely the better option for most people.
With regards to Mercedes, they do not currently offer an EV ‘gran coupé’ or similar around this £54K to £62K price point. The upcoming Mercedes EQS has the 4 door coupe styling but that’s going to be priced between £100K and £130K, and it cannot tow, so who’s interested anyway? ha. In the mid £40K range there is the Mercedes EQA compact SUV but its 750 kg towing capacity is a disappointment, so also not comparable. The Mercedes EQC starts at around £65K and can tow 1,800 kg so a few hundred kilograms more than the BMW i4. But that’s a large SUV so its not comparable on internal volume, but for reference, the BMW i4 will best the EQC considerably on range and charging speed.
My Thoughts On The BMW i4…
As I’ve discussed above, there is currently little direct competition for the i4 for its body type and price point. However, the i4 does compare very favourably to much of its Scandinavian and German competition on towing capacity and range at the £54K to £62K price point.
The i4 is not really directly comparable to the Tesla Model 3 due to its cheaper price point, likewise, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and KIA EV6 are cheaper options that actually provide a similar range/towing capacity along with a faster DC rapid charging rate. Though while I personally would have no problem picking a Hyundai over a BMW, for the majority of the BMW target customer base that’s not a relevant comparison, and I’m not going to argue that point either.
At this moment just based on specs before we have test drives of the BMW i4 and more real-world range tests available I think the i4 is a respectable effort from BMW. I also think the 1,600 kg towing capacity is about right for a dedicated EV of this size/vehicle type. I’ll update this article in the future with reviews on the BMW i4 when available.