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Auto review: Believe it or not, the BMW i4 M50 is fast, fun, yet environmentally conscious

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

With the quirky, goofy i3 city car and the cartoony but fast i8 sports car, BMW played at the margins with its first electric vehicles. Although intended to demonstrate BMW's innovative spirit, you have to wonder how many BMW enthusiasts were turned off by their eccentricity. In contrast, BMW's newest electric vehicle vehicles seem closer to the corporate norm. So, the 2022 BMW iX SUV is blatantly contemporary. Its conventional SUV form softens its more controversial design elements. It pairs perfectly with the 2022 i4, a BMW EV that is — finally — pleasingly conventional.

It arrives in two forms: the i4 eDrive40, with a single electric motor and rear-wheel drive, and the i4 M50, which has two electric motors and all-wheel drive. The former costs $55,400 and the latter $65,900 before options, a $995 destination fee, or any government tax credits.

The 2022 BMW i4 is a car that lacks BMW’s usual EV design theatrics. This five-door hatchback’s handsome, conservative appearance is refreshingly adult despite its outlandishly sizable plastic grille. Inside, the i4 lacks the minimalist modernism that characterizes the BMW iX. Instead, it maintains the same design aesthetic of the 4 Series Gran Coupe. In fact, it’s indistinguishable from most other contemporary BMWs. The faithful will feel at home.

A large front seat is commodious, but the second row does feel like the main cabin rather than the first-class enjoyed up front. Legroom depends on the kindness of people in front. And pack sparingly; the cargo area is only 10 cubic feet, and isn't supplemented by a front trunk unlike other EVs.

But you’ll find its lack of outrageous style is a counterpoint to its performance.

The joy of the BMW i4 M50 test vehicle comes from its 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque that’s delivered to all four wheels. In addition, a Sport Boost feature temporarily adds an additional 67 horsepower and 48 pound-feet of torque for more than 10 seconds. This provides a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and an EPA rating of 80 mpg-e.

 

In comparison, the BMW i4 eDrive40 has a single 335 horsepower rear electric motor. Both drivelines have a one-speed transmission and get their power from a 83.9 kWh battery. Recharging takes less than eight hours with a Level 2 (240-watt) AC charger at a rate of 11 kW. However, with DC fast-charging, we found the refilled to 92 percent from less than 30% in less than a half-hour.

That said, the i4’s tires determine how long you can play with it.

The i4 M50’s 19-inch wheels allow 270 miles; the 20-inchers 227 miles. The less-potent i4 eDrive40 is a bit more generous, delivering 301 miles on 18-inch wheels and 282 miles on 19-inch wheels.

Regardless, you’ll no doubt use up those miles quickly; the BMW i4 M50 is a hoot to drive.

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