A Fantastic Fully-Electric Successor To BMW M Models
It totally makes sense that the centerpiece of BMW’s drive towards electrification would include a dynamic sport sedan, or as close as we get these days, as this all-new 5-door i4 is actually what they call a gran coupe. But, we’ll gladly trade a trunk lid for a hatch as long as it brings the experience we’ve come to love from BMW’s sport sedans. So, let’s see if this i4 delivers.
There are two all-new battery-electric entries from BMW for 2022, and they seem to be attacking the coming all-electric future from two different angles. This 2022 BMW i4 M50 feels familiar, delivering everything we’ve come to love from a BMW sport sedan, only with battery power.
The iX utility is the exact opposite, feeling very unfamiliar and unlike any BMW we’ve ever driven before. We’ll explain that more in the coming weeks with a full test of the iX. But, for now, our focus is on this fantastic i4. Yes, it is built around BMW’s Gran Coupe body shape, which means 4-doors for accessing the midsize 5-passenger cabin, and a rear hatch for practical cargo stowage.
Powering the next generation of BMW performance are BMW-designed electric motors that are free of rare earth materials. Simplistically, that means they’re set into motion with direct pulses of electricity rather than through magnets. Standard in the eDrive40 is a single rear-mounted motor driving just the back wheels to the tune of 335-horsepower. This M50 dials that motor down a bit, but adds a second motor to the front axle for all-wheel-drive and a total output of 536-horsepower and 586 lb-ft. of torque. A single-motor eDrive35, with 281-horsepower will be the base model later on.
For now, energy is stored in an 83.9-kWh battery pack sheltered low in the i4’s chassis. The rear drive’s max range of 301-miles falls to 270 with all-wheel-drive, and our test car’s 20-inch wheel option gets the lowest rating of all at 227-miles. But we were actually on pace to get 243-miles, taking it almost down to zero before plugging in. That results in a fair efficiency rating of 42kWh per 100-miles. But let’s face it, the real numbers you’re waiting for come from Mason Dixon Dragway.
And we’re happy to report the M50 explodes off the line as brutally as we’d hoped, with the kind of launch that makes you want to make sure your head is already pressed against the head rest, or it will be slammed there shortly. 3.8 seconds is all that’s needed for a leap to 60. That was on a damp track day where, even with all-wheel drive, we battled a little bit of wheel slip. Perfect conditions would definitely shave a few tenths off of that. No gears to shift, no drop-off in power, just spaceship-like sounds to accompany us through the 12.4-second ¼-mile which ended at 113 miles-per-hour.
The M-tuned adaptive suspension is just the tip of this precise-handling iceburg. There are anti-roll bars, a strut tower brace, unique “lift-related” shocks, and rear air suspension; all integrated into stability control along with all-wheel-drive and braking systems. None of that does anything to hide this car’s weight, but there are lofty limits to its grip. With hardly any body roll, steering is heavy in a good way, with minimal input needed to change direction.
We were also very happy to find that everything inside the i4’s cabin is familiar driver-centric BMW, but taken to a slightly techier level; with the 12.3-inch gauge display and 14.9-inch infotainment screen blended together into a single curved housing in front of the wavy dash. And rest assured, there are plenty of additional creature comforts that make stepping up to the M50 worth it, including a 16-speaker Harmon Kardon surround sound system, through which you can experience the unique sounds created by Hans Zimmer and BMW’s creative sound team.
On the outside, it looks different enough, with a unique blocked-off treatment applied to the kidney grille, and smoother than typical body panels. But the familiar BMW stance and proportions keep it from looking out of step.
M50 pricing comes in at $68,295; and while that may scream early adopter more than mainstream, considering what a nice M3 goes for these days, we’d say it’s just about right, and well-done BMW. The eDrive40 starts at $56,895, and there are more affordable options on the way.
The 2022 BMW i4 M50 is a fantastic fully-electric successor to BMW M three-box models as we have come to know them. Where BMW takes it from here will be truly exciting to see. The electric future may still be scary to some, but BMW has a way of setting everything straight.
Motor Setup: Dual Motor AWD
Torque: 586 lb-ft
0-60: 3.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.4 second at 113 mph
EPA Range: 227 Miles
MW Range: 243 miles
Efficiency: 42kWh/100 miles