What Is It?
BMW has previously sold electrified vehicles, and now the company has begun rolling out its next-generation electric vehicles — one of these next-gen models is the all-new i4. With styling similar to the current 4-Series Gran Coupe, the 2022 BMW i4 offers all the performance and exhilarating driving characteristics expected of a BMW, taking full advantage of the high-output electric powertrain. If this is the future of BMW, we’re completely on board.
BMW provided us with a 2022 BMW i4 M50 painted in Mineral White Metallic. The M50 is the top-level i4 and comes with a long list of standard features. The test vehicle arrived with an M Technology Package, 20-inch M wheels, adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight, a Harmon Kardon surround sound audio system and the BMW curved display with HUD. Total MSRP for this i4 listed at $77,070. Competitors to the BMW i4 include the Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2, Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq5.
With a design based on the recently updated 4 Series Gran Coupe, the i4’s signature (and controversially large) BMW kidney grille is actually a closed surface, since the EV motor requires scant airflow up front for cooling. Instead, the front camera as well as ultrasonic and radar sensors get integrated into the space. Slim full-LED headlights flank the grille, with lines flowing smoothly into the hood.
Since exhaust outlets are not needed for an all-electric powertrain, the i4 uses the lower section of the rear bumper to improve aerodynamics. The high-tech look continues with long, slim L-shaped LED taillights. Designers and engineers did a great job integrating the rearview camera within the BMW logo.
The 2022 BMW i4 is built on a new modular, scalable architecture offering versatility and efficiency. Power comes from BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive system, which covers the electric motors, power electronics, charging system and high-voltage battery. The system features lithium-ion batteries that have a 20 percent increase in gravimetric energy density over the previous generation. The i4’s battery sits beneath the vehicle floor, which lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity for improved agility and handling.
The 2022 BMW i4 M50 comes with sport seats trimmed in Sensatec — BMW’s synthetic leather material. The seats are both stylish and comfortable with stout bolsters for excellent support, and most would never know the material isn’t leather. A blue Start button as well as blue accents throughout the cabin reflect the electric powertrain.
Inside, the new BMW i4 has elements similar to those of the gas-powered 4 Series, although the i4 has a much more high-tech demeanor. The instrument panel is slim and low, making space for a 14.9-inch center display and a 12.3-inch driver display that merge into a single curved screen for a futuristic look. This elegant display attaches in a way that makes it appear to be freestanding — like a screen sitting on a shelf. Almost all buttons and knobs have been eliminated. Vehicle functions can be accessed via voice, touchscreen or the familiar central controller that operates the latest version of BMW iDrive. The display is intuitive and easy to navigate — not something we could say about past BMW systems.
The i4 features a rear hatch that reveals cargo space on a par with a small crossover: plenty of real estate for cargo with the benefit of a low liftover height. Rear seats fold flat, making the i4 practically as versatile as an SUV.
The high-performance i4 M50 features two electric motors — a 255-horspower unit driving the front wheels, and a 308-horsepower rear motor for a combined output of 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque. With that much power on tap, BMW says the M50 sprints to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds — about the same as the high-performance M4 Competition. After spending a week with the i4, we can attest that it feels even quicker than this impressive figure suggests.
Range and Charging
BMW’s latest-generation batteries can be charged at up to 200 kW, which means the new i4 can move from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in a mere 31 minutes when connected to a DC fast charger. With an 11 kW Level 2 charger — typically what would be installed at home — the i4 can reach 100 percent charge in about eight hours, or overnight. The i4 M50 can go as far as 270 miles on a charge; however, the range drops to 227 miles when fitted with optional 20-inch wheels.
On the Road
BMW may not have been first to market with a high-performance EV, but the i4 M50 was certainly worth the wait. With large amounts of torque available instantly, the i4 accelerates strongly from a standstill or when already cruising at highway speeds. Of course, being an electric vehicle the i4 moves along silently, adding to the comfortable ride and making the vehicle an excellent daily driver.
Even though it launches as quickly as an exotic sports car, the i4 is about more than simply strong acceleration; the i4’s handling is everything we’d expect of a BMW M vehicle. Steering is spot-on, and with its low center of gravity this electric BMW hugs corners. Brakes are consistent and predictable, and with variable levels of regeneration it’s possible to slow for a corner by simply letting off the accelerator. Then, thanks to the impressive grip from the dual motor powertrain, the i4 shoots out of the corner calmly and quickly. Overall, the new i4 is hands-down one of the most fun EVs we’ve ever driven.
Like most European car companies, BMW has begun moving toward electrification, and the i4 is an important first step in this direction. Although the vehicle’s styling may be controversial (that grille is certainly polarizing), the i4 proves that BMW can build a vehicle that delivers all benefits of an advanced EV platform without sacrificing the high performance levels expected of a BMW M machine. Add in the high-tech interior and quick-charging ability and the BMW i4 M50 makes a great option in the growing EV marketplace.