The i4 M50's significance is not immediately apparent from its appearance. There's not much that distinguishes it from the similarly sized 4-series Gran Coupe four-door on which it is based. BMW's first electric vehicle to wear the storied M badge, even if it's only an M50 moniker and not a full-blown M, is a significant milestone.
It also earns the M designation because its power and range are a significant improvement over BMW's previous i-subbrand offerings. Despite using the same 255-hp front and 308-hp rear motors as the iX, the i4 produces 536 horsepower and 586 pounds-feet of torque at its peak, thanks to a battery that is smaller in capacity but more powerful in output. More power than the current M3 Competition and M4 Competition models, to be exact. By pressing the accelerator pedal hard and quickly, the i4 generates a significant amount of forward thrust, causing the front end to rise dramatically as it hurtles forward. When the car is stopped, holding down both pedals activates launch control, which pulses the motors to give the impression that the car is chomping at the bit. Expect acceleration from 0-60 mph to be in the three-second range, which is comparable to that of a BMW M3/M4.
Due to its low starting price of $66,895, the i4 M50 is considered a bit of a bargain in the BMW lineup—less it's than you'll pay for even the most basic M3. Another option is the $56,385 335-horsepower eDrive40, which has the same 80.7-kWh battery capacity.
A whirring soundtrack, which rises and falls in pitch with motor speed and gets louder and softer depending on the rate of acceleration or deceleration, completes the sensory experience. When you select Sport mode, the sound is extremely loud. We were taken aback by the i4's deafening silence after turning it off. No whine can be heard coming from the motors or high-voltage electronics that are typically found in electric vehicles. This is one of the quietest electric vehicles we've ever driven, at least according to our subjective measurements.
Despite the fact that the i4 is nearly 1000 pounds heavier than an all-wheel-drive M3, the extra weight isn't noticeable while driving the car. It has a more rearward weight distribution than its predecessor, and its center of gravity is 1.5 inches lower than it was in the 3-series. The steering of the i4 is light on feedback, much like that of the 3-series. The 20-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Elect tires provide a lot of grip, which is noticeable most of the time. Inside, just as it is in the previous-generation BMW i8, a curved panel with two screens dominates the space, a design that will soon be seen throughout the company's lineup.
The BMW i4 will not be able to travel much further than 200 miles at the rate it consumed energy during a blast from Munich to the Bavarian Alps. However, a Tesla Model 3 Performance, which is its most obvious competitor, does not fare much better in this regard.
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