In its approach to electrification, the 2022 BMW i4 is the opposite of the company’s all-electric iX SUV. The i4 is a model whose powertrain was fitted to existing 4 Series framework, stretching the limits of the architecture rather than a completely new vehicle designed to be battery-powered from the ground up.
The key here is that no matter which approach was taken by the Bavarian automaker, the truth remains the same. Both the iX and the i4 are very good cars. Full stop. Not good electric cars. No qualifiers. Good cars.
As tested in the i4 M50 grade, the sedan carries with it all the typical design hallmarks of an electric vehicle, blended with the sleek styling of the 4 Series. The controversially styled grille takes on a new form as a thick shield. There’s a rear diffuser where tailpipes would traditionally be. Wearing a Frozen Portimao Blue metallic paint job, the car is a a stunner.
Under the floor is a 81.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery (net). It’s just 4.3 inches tall but adds significant weight to the model. Attention paid to the floor-mounted battery’s location and the amount of sheer power the model has makes up for the 5,018-pound metal mound (1,500 pounds more than the 4 Series base model).
The upmarket i4 M50’s front motor puts out 255 horsepower and its rear delivers 308. The car gives drivers access to 538 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than enough, especially considering that all that power is available right off the line.
However, if you want more, there’s more available. Utilizing the Sport Boost function pushes the car to deliver 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque in a fashion reminiscent of the pull of a plane taking off.
Its lower center of gravity and standard all-wheel drive also ups the car’s capability factor. Whereas the traditional 4 Series variants deliver aggressive driving possibilities, the i4 M50 makes a driver want to push even further, and it can.
The car is as comfortable at its electronically limited top speed of 140 mph on the Autobahn as it is at 30 mph on a winding rural road in southern Germany. Though, at high speed something delightful happens: BMW’s engineering puts on a show.
The car’s body is firmly wrapped around a driver while its struts set to work delivering fine-tuned performance that makes it easy to forget about how much you like V8s. Its a quiet, blissful experience for a performance-minded driver.
Unlike in traditional cars, the i4 M50’s Eco Pro mode isn’t so slow to respond that it’s too annoying to use on the regular. Moving the car from the Comfort to Sport drive mode firms up a number of components and tightens up the steering to be delightfully responsive.
Utilizing the B drive mode allows for one-pedal driving. Like in the iX, this goes down without a hitch, especially on long, winding rural roads where one is more likely to slow momentarily than stop. The learning curve on B mode isn’t as steep in the BMW as it is in some other models.
That power of the i4 M50 has a downside. The car is estimated to only have a 245-mile range. However, regenerative braking does help the cause.
But what if you want to daily the i4 M50 and live somewhere that you can’t take the car 140 mph on the regular? The car has the same drawbacks as the traditional 4 Series including the fact that its A-pillar and side mirror location make it difficult to see around tight corners.
If you’re looking for an interior that’s flashy, sleek, or modern the i4 will disappoint. It’s just as plushly appointed as the traditional 4 Series.
The BMW wins for having its new iDrive 8 system installed when it comes to market. The curved display dual-screen system is head and shoulders above the current iDrive system that is found in most of the rest of the BMW lineup. However, it does have one drawback.
Crowded menus make a driver to take their eyes off the road for longer than is ideal when performing certain functions like adjusting the climate controls.
This pushes the driver to use voice-activated controls for simple functions, something that many drivers are still not thrilled at the prospect of.
Much of the iDrive 8 technology is quite good, like adaptive navigation, which now utilizes cloud-based technology for faster calculations. Still, the navigation system lags in ease of use behind Google Maps and Apple Maps, which can be utilized when iDrive is paired with a smartphone.
Make no mistake about it, the BMW i4 M50 is an excellent car. Its $65,900 starting price tag along with impressive engineering will make it instantly competitive in the electric performance car market when it arrives on U.S. shores next summer.