Auto123 reviews the 2022 BMW i4 M50 xDrive.
When I first got behind the wheel of the Porsche Taycan a little over a year ago, I was pretty sure I'd found the ultimate driver’s car of the electric segment. Just try to beat that, I thought! Since then, a few other purely electric cars have found their way into my driveway, but none of them have managed to eclipse the performance of Porsche’s splashy entry into the EV sphere. The only possible exception was the Audi RS e-tron GT – which happens to be a very close cousin of the Taycan.
Cut to this spring. As it happened, I test drove three electric crossovers (Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6) just a few days before taking a seat in the new BMW i4 M50 xDrive, a five-door sedan that I was eagerly anticipating driving, I must confess. Of that first trio, the EV6 impressed me the most. As for this first true electric Beemer? (we shouldn’t really count the outlier that was the early electric BMW’ the i3). I honestly did not expect that the new i4 would seduce me quite as thoroughly as it did.
Here are some of the reasons why I literally fell in love with this discretely beautiful EV.
It's a 4 Series Gran Coupe
For its first all-electric car - or five-door sedan if you prefer the official name - BMW's designers and stylists chose to use an understated brush. At first glance, the BMW i4 looks like any other recent-generation 4 Series Gran Coupe. A closer inspection look does reveal a few elements like the EV-style grille, some blue-tinged details (in the headlights or even around the brand's crest), but that's about it!
For those who prefer to blend into traffic rather than stand out in it, this discretion is perfect.
The rounded screen
Those familiar with the 3 Series/4 Series lineup won't be too disoriented, as many of the elements of the gas-powered models are found here, for instance the center console, steering wheel, lower portion of the dashboard, the amount of interior space, the seats. Not that this is coincidence - all of these components belong to the CLAR platform, the same one used for a majority of the models in the lineup.
But all is not the same, of course. The most obvious new feature is the curved screen that catches your eye as soon as you get in. I’d actually seen something very similar a few days earlier in the Kia EV6. I like BMW's approach, as they didn't try to integrate this huge electronic panel like Kia did, or like Cadillac did in the Escalade, for example. Here, the screen looks like a regular old screen that was installed over the existing panel.
In any case, it's what's inside the screen that counts and the quality of the graphics is noteworthy here. The response of the screen is excellent, and I even found myself appreciating the touch buttons for the climate control, even if I still prefer good old-fashioned physical buttons!
For the power
Not only does this M50 xDrive variant benefit from all-wheel drive to handle winter - or any other slippery road conditions for that matter - but the presence of a motor on each axle boosts available power to a staggering 536 hp and 586 lb-ft of torque. Of course, the sportiness level jolts up a big notch when you press the Sport button is pressed; it stiffens the steering and enhances powertrain response.
And there's that artificial sound that follows in step with the car's pace. It's very futuristic, and just adding a soundtrack to the driving experience transforms it. Yes, it's true that ICE fans will miss the sound of the inline 6-cylinder engine, but at the risk of repeating myself, the BMW i4 is a completely different animal than the “regular” 4-Series.
Meanwhile, there’s the price of gas...
... which is a concern for many motorists who are wondering how they'll get through the next few months with the cost of living rising on all fronts. Now let's face it, those folks probably won’t be shopping for a BMW i5 M50 xDrive that costs around $90,000 (with options). If they want to go electric, they'll have to aim lower on the EV food chain.
But I don’t care who you are, it feels good to have this much fun in a sports sedan and not spend $100 or more – much more - on a tank of high-octane gas. Converts who already drive a performance electric vehicle know this. When you get home, all you have to do is plug the car into the Level 2 terminal and the next day the battery is ready for another day on the road.
By the way, the BMW i4 M50 xDrive is capable of driving up to 435 km when the battery is fully charged. When I picked up the keys, the advertised range was more like 400 km; then, the next morning, after a night outside and a still-full battery, estimated remaining range now showed about 300 km, the cold having done its work on the battery pack. Clearly, there is still work to be done to increase range in cold climes, but the BMW i4 is not the only electric car to suffer from this malady.
A well-designed, well-built car
I was very happy to note about about this electric 4 Series that it displays the same level of overall quality as other, non-electric BMW products. Which is to say, I didn't detect any annoying creaks or body noises during my few days of testing, let alone a panel coming loose. And the paint was still firmly in place on the body, unlike what has been reported by some Tesla owners.
The last word
I admit it, I'm still a skeptic when it comes to electric cars, particularly when it comes to performance models. That's my nostalgic side getting the better of me; I find it hard to imagine that the car as we've known it since the late 19th century will disappear. But if the electric car of the future is as good to drive as this i4 M50 xDrive, there may be hope for those who love to drive.
And frankly, this test drive piques my curiosity even more about the eDrive40, a version with a single motor mounted on the rear axle that comes with 335 hp under the right foot and two-wheel drive. But for that one, we'll have to wait for a road test before drawing any conclusions.
The discreet design
The amazing performance
We like less
The added weight (batteries)
The price asked
The possible distance
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