For the past half-decade, if you wanted a small, sporty electric sedan, you had exactly one choice: the Tesla Model 3. And if purely objective, stat-sheet metrics like range, charge speed, straight-line performance, or price matter, Tesla still makes the only model worth considering. But in case you haven't seen the news for, oh, the last six months, that Tesla badge comes with a bit of baggage.
Whether it be the increasingly bizarre antics of founder Elon Musk or concerns over quality, buying a Tesla in 2022 makes a more sweeping statement than in 2018. Enter the 2022 BMW i4 M50. It's inferior to the Model 3 on the specs and costs more to boot, but with none of the baggage, most of the appeal, and the goodness that seems inherent in all four-door Bavarians, the i4 is a surprisingly tempting alternative to this small segment's benchmark.
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|Quick Stats||2022 BMW i4 M50 (20-inch wheel)|
|Motor:||Twin Electrically Excited Synchronous Motors|
|Output:||536 Horsepower / 586 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||3.7 Seconds|
|EV Range:||227 Miles|
Gallery: 2022 BMW i4 M50: Review
- Exterior Color: Frozen Portimao Blue
- Interior Color: Cognac
- Wheel Size: 20 Inches
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is a damn fine-looking canvas on which to base an EV, especially following the redesign of the 4er line last year. The primary change is, of course, the buck-toothed “grille.” Plenty of other writers have spilled ink on it and nothing I write here will make the grille go away. If you don't like it, just order an i4 in black; if you do like it, congrats.
But not ordering an i4 because of its polarizing kidneys condemns what's otherwise a very handsome design. The plunging roofline, which terminates in a small ducktail spoiler (topped with a cheesy carbon-fiber lip on my tester), is a natural pairing with the long hood and impressive dash-to-axle ratio, making the i4 look more purposeful and traditional than today's vaguely egg-shaped EVs, like the Mercedes-Benz EQE.
Like the exterior, the i4 receives one big change in the cabin. A curved, slab-style display sits atop pedestals on the dash and I hope you like it, because it's the new normal on future BMWs. Other than that, the same clean, unfussy design remains. The interior looks particularly nice with Cognac faux leather and carbon-fiber trim and more importantly, it cain feels solid and well built, especially relative to the Model 3.
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- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 10.0 Cubic Feet
I can't begin to understand why BMW chose to electrify the 4 Series Gran Coupe over the benchmark 3 Series Sedan (although I bet the squandering of the i3 name on a frumpy tall hatchback had something to do with it), but it does mean some tradeoffs. The cargo area is super easy to access because of the liftback design, although I still had to lower the rear seats to fit a pair of golf bags. At the same time, the rear headroom is tight for adults, and the lower roof line makes getting in and out a challenge. The front seats aren't an M-specific thing, but they're supportive on twisty roads and comfy over long journeys.
Despite the M50 badge on the tail and the optional 20-inch wheels on 35-series front/30-series rear tires, the sportiest i4 (so far) has a surprisingly relaxed and pleasant ride. The steering is just isolated enough over bumps and imperfections and avoids the hyperactive behavior my colleagues and I have complained about in other M and M adjacent products, so it won’t tire out the driver by demanding constant corrections on long freeway hikes.
Little sound makes its way up to the cabin as the M50-spec adaptive dampers do their work (the default Comfort mode is where it's at). BMW's decision to skip run-flat tires surely helped there, and it probably made a difference in the lack of tire roar. Frameless windows shouldn't lead to impressive wind control, but the slippery body (the i4’s drag coefficient is just 0.25 compared to the 0.3 for the M440i Gran Coupe) reduces noise at highway speeds.
- Center Display: 14.9-inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3-inch
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes
The i4 and iX introduce iDrive 8, BMW’s latest infotainment software, and it's lovely. The graphics are among the best in the business with crisp, vibrant colors. This isn't a fancy OLED display but it doesn't look far off. The touchscreen functionality is quick and almost easier than the physical dial and buttons, while BMW seems to have ironed out the quirks of wireless Apple CarPlay.
The digital instrument cluster is bright and vibrant, with three different gauge layouts and a reconfigurable center information page. Paired with an optional head-up display that has three separate configurations of its own, it’s a helpful aid in most situations (although it remains useless for anyone wearing polarized sunglasses). Beyond those headlining features, the i4 benefits from an available wireless charge pad and a 5G eSIM system that fully merges smartphone capability with the car. Ambient lighting is optional too, although BMW seems to think the i4/iX need their own unique color schemes – pour one out for BMW's traditional orange.
- Engine: Dual Electrically Excited Synchronous Motors
- Output: 536 Horsepower / 586 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Single-Speed Automatic
Straight-line performance in the dual-motor M50 is rapid, with its twin electrically excited motors producing 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque. That's enough to scoot this 5,018-pound sedan to 60 in just 3.7 seconds. Tesla fans will note that's over half a second down on the quickest Model 3, of course, but I prefer to look at this broader point: there are two sub-$70,000 compact sedans on sale that can hit 60 in under four seconds without consuming a drop of gasoline. What a world.
Arguably the best soundtrack in the EV game accompanies that oomph – the M-specific acceleration/deceleration sound comes from composer Hans Zimmer and sets the right mood when turned to its maximum in Sport mode. That's one of three available drive modes, but there are also four different regen settings and a dedicated one-pedal option. It's very easy to set the i4 up to suit different conditions.
The i4 is nearly 1,000 pounds heavier than the M440i xDrive Gran Coupe (4,169 lbs), but along with being seven-tenths faster to 60, it also feels more engaging owing to the lower center of gravity. The added weight is perceptible when cornering, but only insofar as it's a bit easier to overwhelm the tires. The steering feels natural and predictable, and while less nervous than other BMWs, it’s still quick to react to sudden inputs. The brakes proved excellent too, although I spent most of my time in one-pedal mode. The hand-off from regenerative to friction brakes is seamless, so even drivers that dislike one-pedal driving will feel comfortable.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
Every i4 M50 comes standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. That's a disappointing standard roster, but filling it out is an affordable process (relative to the M50’s $68,000 starting price).
The $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional pack adds full-speed adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping assist with steering assistance. This elevates the active safety suite to SAE Level II standards. Active Navigation helps manage speed based on curves in the road along the selected route. Less essential is the $700 Parking Assistance pack, which introduces a surround-view camera and automatic parallel parking.
On the road, the i4's optional active safety package is as good as on any other modern BMW product. Smart and responsive, it reduces the driver's workload substantially. The only thing missing is full-on hands-free driving.
Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash tested the i4, but results from Europe have not been promising.
- City: 79 MPGe
- Highway: 80 MPGe
- Combined: 80 MPGe
The BMW i4 M50 can return up to 270 miles on a single charge, but my tester's optional 20-inch wheels slash that number to just 227 miles. No amount of style is worth such a substantial sacrifice.
|EV Range||Efficiency||DC Charge Rate|
|BMW i4 M50 w/20-inch||227 Miles||79 / 80 / 80 MPGe||200 Kilowatts|
|BMW i4 M50 w/19-inch||270 Miles||94 / 98 / 96 MPGe||200 Kilowatts|
|Polestar 2 Dual-Motor||233 Miles||94 / 84 / 89 MPGe||150 Kilowatts|
|Tesla Model 3 Long Range||358 Miles||134 / 126 / 131 MPGe||250 Kilowatts|
|Tesla Model 3 Performance||315 Miles||118 / 107 / 113 MPGe||250 Kilowatts|
- Base Price: $51,400 + $995 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $68,295
- As-Tested Price: $82,820
The arrival of the i4's eDrive35 model is driving the starting price of this all-electric liftback down to $52,395 (including a $995 destination charge), but the M50 is a good bit dearer, at $68,295. It’s the only way to score a dual-motor layout on the i4, but the i4 M50 also promises far more straight-line speed, a more aggressive standard wheel/tire package, adaptive dampers, and a host of other performance-focused goodies. The actual equipment roster isn't quite so different, although that's par for BMW's course. As for my loaded tester, the out-the-door price was a hefty $82,820.
To be frank, you don't need most of the extras. The $3,600 matte blue paint is an expensive maintenance headache and the $2,500 High-Performance package's 20-inch wheels sacrifice almost 50 miles of range. Drop the $2,800 carbon-fiber exterior trim and $300 CF interior trim, because it’s too kitsch for something that will never see a race track. That drives the price down to about $72,000, improves the range, and makes a far less flashy visual statement.
The i4's lone foil is, of course, the Tesla Model 3. It packs more range and faster charging, and is quicker to 60 in top-spec Performance form. And it's a good bit cheaper, too. The dual-motor Long Range can scamper to 60 in 4.2 seconds (half a tick down on the i4 M50), but it covers 334 miles to a charge while retaining a $60,690 starting price (including a $1,200 destination charge). And if you really want to smite your BMW-loving friends, the Model 3 Performance demands $64,190 for a 3.1-second sprint to 60 and 315-mile range.
i4 Competitor Reviews:
- Polestar 2: 8.3 / 10
- Tesla Model 3: Not Rated
2022 BMW i4 M50 (20-inch wheel)