Extract from the November 2021 issue of Car and driver.
A simple glance at the i4 M50 does not reveal its significance. There’s not much to distinguish from the similarly sized 4-Series 4-Door Gran Coupé on which it is based. But it’s the first electric vehicle from BMW to wear the legendary M badge, even though it’s an M50 moniker, not a full-fledged M.
It also wins the M badge, as its power and range represent a giant leap beyond BMW’s previous i-sub-brand offerings. The i4 uses the same 255 horsepower front and 308 horsepower rear motors as the iX, but with a higher peak horsepower of 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque, thanks to a smaller capacity battery but more powerful output. That’s more power than the current M3 and M4 Competition models. Hitting the treadle brings a hard, instant push, which cranks up the front dramatically as the i4 dashes forward. Holding both pedals at a standstill activates launch control, during which it pulses the engines, giving the impression that the car is chomping on its brakes. Acceleration to 60 mph should be in the order of three seconds, or as fast as an M3 / M4.
The i4 M50’s starting price of $ 66,895 makes it a good deal in the BMW lineup, it’s less than what you’ll pay even for the base M3. There is also a $ 56,385, 335 horsepower eDrive40 model with the same battery capacity of 80.7 kWh.
Adding audio to the experience is a thunderous soundtrack whose pitch rises and falls with engine speed and becomes louder and smoother depending on the rate of acceleration or deceleration. Select Sport mode and the sound is intrusive. Turning it off left us in awe of the silence of the i4. There is no whine from the motors or high voltage electronics that are typically found in electric vehicles. It’s one of the subjectively quietest electric vehicles we’ve ever driven.
The i4 weighs almost 1,000 pounds more than an all-wheel-drive M3, but the extra mass isn’t evident when you’re driving. The weight distribution leans back and the center of gravity is 1.5 inches lower than in the 3 Series. Like the 3 Series, the i4’s steering is light in return. Most of the time you notice massive grip from the 20 inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Elect tires. As in the iX, a curved panel housing two screens dominates the interior of the i4, a configuration that will soon proliferate in the BMW lineup.
At the rate it absorbed energy in a blast from Munich to the Bavarian Alps, the i4 won’t travel much more than 200 miles. Again, a Tesla Model 3 Performance, its most obvious competitor, does little better.
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