Munich, Germany—The all-new BMW i4 M50 is the first M-branded electric car from BMW, spearheading the Bavarian automaker’s EV offensive along with the equally new iX crossover which we also took for a spin recently.
We drove the i4 M50 on the roads between Munich and the Austrian border on a warm, late-summer day. Canadians will get the opportunity to test this new model—as well as the base i4 eDrive40—starting this winter.
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Sporty, But Not Made for the Track
The first thing we realized is that the BMW i4 M50 is not designed to clip apexes on a race track like a conventionally powered M3 or M4 would. Rather, it aims to please sporty drivers on public roads.
The difference comes from the extra weight. The electric sports sedan tips the scales at more than 2,200 kilograms (the battery alone weighs over 500 kilograms), so it can’t attack corners with the same ferocity and agility as the M3/M4. Blame the laws of physics.
The i4 M50 is still exhilarating to drive with peak torque available at all times and the electronic AWD system adjusting torque distribution front to rear about 10 times faster than a traditional mechanical system.
The car’s variable-ratio sport steering system proves direct and precise, enabling beautiful command of the front wheels. The brakes are super-strong and the slightly wider rear tires help with the 48/52 weight distribution.
Smart Regenerative Braking
Naturally, the BMW i4 M50 also features an advanced regenerative braking system. An adaptive mode adjusts energy recuperation based on driving conditions. For example, when we caught up to a group of cyclists on a small, winding road, the system automatically triggered regenerative braking to slow the car down and then stopped when we changed course to safely overtake them.
The same thing happened multiple times during the drive, like when approaching towns or using highway off-ramps. By the way, it’s possible to set regenerative braking to Low, Medium or High, the final setting enabling true one-pedal driving (after moving the shifter to the B position).
The i4 M50’s battery has a usable capacity of 80.7 kWh, which results in a range of 416-521 kilometres based on the WLTP standard (Europe) or around 400 kilometres when using North America’s own test cycles. BMW claims this is enough and prefers to focus on the development of DC fast chargers rather than maximizing range.
Incidentally, a full charge takes a little more than eight hours via a level-2 charger, but you can replenish the battery from 10-80 percent capacity is just over 30 minutes when plugged into a 200-kW DC fast charger.
Five-door Body Style
Derived from the new 2022 4 Series Gran Coupe, the BMW i4 is built on the CLAR modular platform and features a five-door body style with a rear hatch instead of a conventional trunk. This obviously makes the car more versatile.
As for styling, the i4 boasts a long and wide stance emphasized by super-short front and rear overhangs, while the oversized, M3-like grille is closed in order to optimize aerodynamics. Flush-mounted door handles serve the same purpose.
Curved Display With iDrive 8
The highlight of the i4 interior is the curved digital interface consisting of two large displays. The one in front of the driver is 12.3 inches, while the other stands above the centre stack and is 14.9 inches.
BMW’s new electric models introduce the eighth generation of the iDrive infotainment system. You can play with it using the touchscreen, the rotary controller on the centre console or else voice or gesture control. The graphics are absolutely stunning. The rest of the cabin is typical BMW design with a multi-function steering wheel, classic shifter and superb fit and finish.
In Canada, the 2022 BWW i4 eDrive40 starts at $54,990, while the sporty i4 M50 we tested retails from $72,990. The latter is a genuine BMW in terms of ride and handling, though it’s not as sharp and performance-oriented as an M3 or M4 due to the extra weight.
Overall, the i4 M50 left us thoroughly and pleasantly surprised. What a great combination of build quality, driving dynamics, efficiency and interior comfort.