Test drive: Look forward to the future of electric vehicles with a BMW i4 M50

I’ve been writing about electric vehicles since driving Elon Musk’s personal first-generation Tesla Roadster for Inhabitat over 10 years ago. It wrapped my lungs around my spine on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley, before Tesla had a press fleet. My, how things have changed in a decade. Finally this year, the auto industry is rolling out the first range of diverse electric vehicles as part of a plan to make the entire industry go electric by 2035. I drove the BMW i4 thinking it would be similar to the early 2000s BMW electric concepts that came out. during the last decade. Boy, was I glad I was wrong.

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The BMW i4 EV is discreet, as much as any BMW, and looks like a normal sedan. But the flush door handles, gaping grille and low stance tell you this is a sports car. What tells you it’s electric is the way it accelerates to 80 miles per hour by accident from a red light before you realize why everyone drives so slowly.

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Yes, it’s so good.

It’s a phenomenal car, you guys. I mean, really good. I couldn’t find a compromise anywhere. The design features premium brakes (a little sticky, maybe, until you get used to it), a head-up display that tells you the speed limit if you’re looking for it, premium interior trim and satellite radio. And, oh yeah, that includes over 500 horsepower and a range of 245 miles that never seems to let up even if you, ahem, test it a bit.

The ride was quick, smooth and sporty, but still with enough cushion under the rear to avoid bumping it over potholes. The car makes a hydroelectric dam noise when it really opens. It’s a car you can easily drive 90 miles per hour accidentally on the freeway entrance ramp.

Modern interior of the car with a digital dashboard

Indoor Fashion and Sport

Inside, the M50 has an extended screen on the dashboard that extends from the driver’s side to the center console. Enjoy a head-up display or monitor your speed on the screen in front of the driver. You can manage the range and keep an eye on the driving mode you’re in, even if you make changes via the central display.

We loved how easy it was to change modes from Eco to Comfort to Sport, tune radio channels and navigate using the center screen. Comfort mode is cushy but not as quick as Sport. We’re not sure how much you could extend range if you put the car in Eco mode, which is even more restrictive.

Not-so-great features?

The shifter is automatic on the console, but it’s a little fiddly. You have to press the button on the side of the shifter to shift some gears, which is a bit of a hassle if you need to back up or change gears quickly. This car’s turning radius isn’t the tightest either, but all of those things are trade-offs for interior space and its power.

Sustainable production

Beyond the EV credentials, BMW has made sure the i4 is sustainable by producing it entirely with hydroelectric power at the company’s factories in Dingolfing and Munich in Germany. In fact, BMW doubled its sales of all-electric cars in the first half of 2022. It might be time to get on a waiting list or call your local dealership to keep an eye out for one of these. beauties if you are in the market.

How much does it cost?

The starting MSRP for the overpowered M50 version of the i4 is $67,300. We had to check the price twice. No, it’s not exactly affordable for a daily driver, but for the bloated sporty version of an all-electric sports sedan from a respected brand like BMW, it’s great.

BMW i4 M50 rear view in blue

The M50 has 536 horsepower and all-wheel drive with a range of between 227 and 270 miles. And you know what? For the first time, I really believe them about this range. I drove the M50 i4 at all speeds in Eco, Comfort and Sport modes which drastically changed the speed and responsiveness of the car, and the range barely budged. I’m pretty sure I left the dealership at 245 miles of range, lost a few with some shenanigans on the back roads, and by the time I got back half an hour later, I was back to 245 miles of range left even though I was in Sport mode.

The most affordable version

If you want rear-wheel drive and a little more than an affordable starting MRSP price of $55,900, the BMW i4 eDrive40 version of this car will give you up to 301 miles of range while letting you go from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds with 335 horsepower, which is equivalent to a decent traditional BMW sedan. But believe me. If you want to feel on top of the world and happy about the climate future at the same time, go get the sport version. It is so good. The future of electric vehicles looks bright.


Images via BMW

Editor’s Note: This test drive is not sponsored by BMW. All product and company opinions are those of the author.

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