When BMW first designed its electric vehicles, it played for the fringes with the quirky, dorky i3 city car and the outrageously sporty i8. Not meant for the masses, they were meant to show that BMW was forward thinking.
But you have to wonder how many BMW aficionados were left cold by their idiosyncratic ambience? Obviously, many, for BMW’s newest i vehicles have migrated in from the edge.
While the 2022 BMW iX SUV is starkly modern, its more provocative design details are mitigated by its traditional SUV form. And now, with the arrival of the 2022 i4, BMW finally fielded an EV that’s refreshingly normal.
The new i4 comes in two forms, the $55,400 i4 eDrive40 with a single electric motor and rear-wheel drive, or the $65,900 i4 M50 with dual electric motors and all-wheel drive. A 1-speed transmission is standard. Prices do not include a $995 destination charge.
Ok, the i4 still has the sizable plastic grille that continues to provoke discussion among automotive cognoscenti. But the overall vehicle looks for all the world like an electrified BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe — and that’s good.
For this five-door hatchback’s handsome, conservative appearance prevents the embarrassment of people staring as you climb into a car that resembles an alien life form. The i4 is a car that lacks BMW’s usual EV design theatrics. It’s just good looking. Period.
The same design aesthetic continues inside, where the i4 lacks the reductive modernism that characterizes the BMW iX. The i4’s cabin is much like any other modern BMW. There’s no antagonizing design. It’s merely another modern BMW layout, and that’s a relief. If you’re at home in your current BMW, you’ll feel the same way here.
Cabin space is fairly good, with a roomy front seat and a sufficient rear seat. Legroom is dependent on those in front, so the second row does feel like the main cabin, rather than the first-class accommodations experienced up front. Cargo space is surprisingly small at 10 cubic feet, and it’s not augmented by a front trunk, as in some other EVs, so pack lightly.
Material quality mirrors that of other BMWs: impressive, and the ambient lighting sets a perfect mood, without overwhelming occupants like it does in some Mercedes-Benz models. And owners can pre-heat and pre-cool their i4 using the My BMW smartphone app.
The BMW i4 M50 has an electric motor on each axle, with the front providing 255 horsepower and the rear generating 308 hp delivering at total of 536 hp and 586 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels.
But those numbers are realized through the use of the Sport Boost function, which increases the system’s power to its stated numbers, delivering 67 hp and 48 lb-ft of torque for more than 10 seconds. The function can be engaged repeatedly as long as power is available. A gauge in the instrument cluster shows how much extra juice is available.
In contrast, the BMW i4 eDrive40 comes with a single rear electric motor that delivers 335 hp. A 1-speed transmission is standard. Both engines are powered by a 83.9-kWh battery.
The motors were developed by BMW, and does not use fixed permanent magnets, like other electric motors used by automakers. This allows BMW to avoid the use of rare earth metals required for magnetic components. Instead, the rotors are actuated by the feed-in of electric energy.
As with any electrified vehicle, the i4’s brakes recapture energy that’s fed to the battery. Thoughtfully, the i4 allows drivers to adjust the amount of energy captured to low, medium or high, with the latter allowing for one-pedal driving most of the time, as the braking effort is high when the driver lifts off the throttle.
Thoughtfully, BMW designed i4 to be flexible when recharging. As you’d expect, a Level 2 AC charger can recharge the battery at a rate of 11 kW, filling an empty battery in less than eight hours.
But i4 also accepts DC fast-charging, feeding its high-voltage battery at 200 kW. This nets you up to 90 miles in just 10 minutes. Our own tests found that an hour was plenty of fast charging time, enough to refill its charge to 92% charge from less than 30 percent.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash tested the i4. However, it does come with a slew of standard driver assistance systems, including front-collision warning, lane-departure warning, steering and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, rear-collision prevention, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot detection.
In-cabin technology includes a Head-Up Display, a 16-speaker 464-watt Harman Kardon surround sound system, and iDrive 8, which now features over-the-air updates. The newest version of iDrive incorporates a user ID for the driver that allows the system to remember settings and use predictive learning to surmise where you’re headed when using the navigation system.
BMW says the i4 M50 is the first fully-electric M performance model. But while other BMW M models are truly track ready, this one isn’t, although it performs with the speed and agility of other M models. BMW says the i4 M50 reaches 60 mph in a blistering 3.7 seconds, vs. a still good 5.5 seconds for the i4 eDrive40 — and it’s easy to believe.
The i4 M50’s unearthly quick responsiveness will feel familiar to M3 and M4 fans, as will its steering, which is devoid of feel. But its smooth instantaneous power delivery and sharp cornering dynamics will feel as familiar as the vehicle looks. But ultimately, there’s a lack of tactile feedback in the i4 that takes getting used to, something true of most EVs.
And the i4’s Sport mode, when activated, produces a strange sound effect created by Hans Zimmer, which seems frivolous, unnecessary and unneeded.
Of course, how long you can play with your i4 depends on which tires are fitted according to the EPA. The i4 M50 delivers a range of 270 miles when equipped with 19-inch wheels and 227 miles with 20-inch wheels. In contrast, the less-powerful i4 eDrive40 delivers 301 miles with 18-inch wheels and 282 miles with 19-inch wheels.
2022 BMW i4 M50 Specifications
|Dimension||L: 188.5 inches/W: 72.9 inches/H: 57 inches/Wheelbase: 112.4 inches|
|Powertrain||Dual electric motors, 1-speed transmission and all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||79 mpg-e city/80 mpg-e highway/80 mpg-e combined|
|Performance Specs||536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $65,900; As tested: not available, plus $995 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Fast, fun and shockingly normal, the BMW i4 M50 proves to be the consummate daily driver, delivering the thrilling athletics you’d expect of other M models, albeit with a sterility that takes getting used to. And as long as you don’t schlep a lot of stuff, you won’t even mind the meager cargo space.
2022 BMW i4 M50 — Frequently Asked Questions
How much will the 2022 BMW i4 M50 cost?
It costs $65,900, plus a $995 destination charge and any options and taxes.
Does BMW i4 qualify for federal tax credit?
Yes, it should qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit, plus any state or local tax incentives.
Is i4 M50 fully electric?
Yes. It is the first fully electric vehicle to wear BMW’s M badge.