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Review

BMW i4 M50:

What makes the first electric M so special

author: Christian Brinkmanndate: 2022/02/01

This is the first fully electric performance car of BMW: At first glance, the design of the new BMW i4 M50 is restrained. But the mighty 400 kW/544 hp tell another story. To anticipate it: This electric car really knows how to surprise. The review of the BMW i4 M50 shows why this electric performance car impresses, how far it can go with one charge and how it performs in dynamic driving and in everyday life.
これぞ、羊の皮を被った狼である。一見すると、控えめなデザインを身に纏うが、その内部には400kW/544psとパワフルな心臓部を備える。 BMWが満を持して世に送り出すハイパフォーマンスEVとなる「i4 M50」にいち早く試乗。電気じかけのクルマならではのダイナミックな走行性能はもちろん、充電インフラの普及まで含めて、気になる日常の使い勝手までを、欧州カー・オブ・ザ・イヤー選考委員のクリスティアン・ブリンクマンがジャーマン・ピュアEVの可能性を語る。

Design: Simply stylish without being over the top

No doubt, the BMW i4 M50 is sportily styled, but without being too expressive. This understatement, however, proves to be very pleasant. The powerful front amazes with sharp lines, slim LED headlights and a large blanked-off radiator grille. BMW discreetly integrated a front camera as well as ultrasonic and radar sensors into the surface of the radiator grille, which are required for a variety of driver assistance systems. Additional air intakes at the front and side optimise brake cooling, while the side skirts emphasise the powerful style.

The elegantly stretched roofline flows smoothly into the rear, which impresses with a specific spoiler on the tailgate and an athletically shaped rear apron. A high-gloss black painted trim and the striking diffuser immediately catch the eye. Since the BMW i4 M50 does not require an exhaust system, this area is used to improve the aerodynamics. Several components such as the side air intake trims at the front, the exterior mirror caps, the side trims in the rear apron and the rear spoiler are also available in carbon.

Adrenaline-charged dynamics: How fast is the BMW i4 M50?

The all-wheel drive BMW i4 M50 xDrive is pretty fast. This is ensured by two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear axle, which together generate a system output of 400 kW/544 hp. One step on the accelerator - and this performance electric car shoots forward. Especially in "Sport" mode, which unleashes the maximum power output of both motors. The acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 3.9 seconds. To protect the battery from excessive energy loss, BMW limited the top speed to 225 km/h.

You can feel that the BMW i4 M50 is heavy. It weights almost 2.3 tonnes. But the enormous system torque of 795 Nm compensates the weight. But what no one expected at such a high level: the handling is excellent and the grip is strong. If you like driving on curvy roads, you will have a lot of fun with the M50.

Furthermore, the BMW i4 M50 is able to choose the right form of power transmission from pure rear-wheel drive to an all-wheel drive set-up, that maximises traction. To increase driving stability a torque vectoring function varies the amount of drive very quickly to each of the rear wheels. As a result, the M50 accelerates fast and early out of corners.

With the battery located low down in the vehicle floor, resulting in a lowered centre of gravity, it feels like the BMW i4 M50 has lost a significant amount of weight. This electric BMW undoubtedly has a quite agile handling. Important as well: Thanks to the direct steering, the M50 can be precisely driven through curves. However, if you really go full throttle, you should tightly hold the steering wheel, because no less than 430 Nm of torque is transferred to the front wheels.

For everyday driving, the "Comfort" mode turns out to be perfect with a lighter steering and a softer damping that absorbs road bumps well. Despite the strong power, the accelerator pedal mates excellent pedal weighting with a good degree of sensitivity: ideal for a pleasant ride in the city during everyday use.

Long range - and how fast the BMW i4 M50 can charge

One of the hot topics when it comes to electric vehicles is the range, especially when talking about an electric performance car. The high-voltage battery of the BMW i4 M50 has a net energy content of 80.7 kWh (gross 83.9 kWh). This allows the i4 M50 to post a combined WLTP-calculated electric power consumption of 18.0 to 22.5 kWh and a range of 416 to 521 kilometres. It's a wide, but honest margin, which depends on various factors such as personal driving style, road conditions, outside temperature, air-conditioning, heating and preconditioning of the battery. In short: the mentioned WLTP range can easily be reached without effort.

In addition, the BMW i4 M50 scores with a maximum charging rate of 205 kW - and that means a short charging time on a DC system. A suitable high-power charging station allows to recharge the battery from 10 to 80 per cent in just 31 minutes. It takes only 5 minutes to increase the range by 100 kilometres. Using a rapid charging station (50 kW) just 21 minutes for 100 kilometres.

Hooking up the battery to a wallbox (11 kW) at home allows it to be fed with AC power from 0 to 100 per cent in 8:25 hours. A range of 100 kilometres can be charged in 1:36 hours. It should be mentioned that the maximum charging rate of the BMW i4 M50 with AC is only 11 kW three-phase or 7.4 kW single-phase.

The range is increased by recuperation, ergo the recovery of braking energy, which charges the battery frequently while driving. In driving position “D” the BMW i4 M50 even has an adaptive recuperation based on navigation data and traffic situations detected by sensors. Just before reaching a bend, a traffic-light, a roundabout or a speed limit, a high level of recuperation is activated as soon as the driver releases the accelerator. When approaching a vehicle ahead, the drive unit again switches over to the generator function in order to feed energy back into the battery.

Alternatively, a high, medium or low recuperation can be selected for all traffic situations via the infotainment system. The maximum available recuperation is achieved in driving position "B", allowing one-pedal driving, this means coming to a standstill without needing to press the brake pedal. Of course, it is also possible to turn off one-pedal driving completely.

Interior: The BMW i4 M50 is equipped to impress

The interior sets the passengers into the right mood immediately: it’s sporty, high-quality and at the same time modern. The comfortable sports seats offer plenty of lateral support during dynamic driving, while the interior impresses not only with precise workmanship, but also with lots of leather, metal applications, soft-touch surfaces and plenty of carbon.

In the front even 2 metres tall persons can sit comfortable. In the rear space is only sufficient for passengers with a height of 1,80 metres. However, if the driver chooses a lower seating position, the person in the back will have nowhere to put the feet. Unfortunately, there is no foot garage or recess in the battery underneath.

Infotainment: These technologies are pretty smart

A highlight in the interior of the BMW i4 M50 is the latest iDrive generation, which is based on the "BMW Operating System 8". The state-of-the-art infotainment-system impresses with a "Curved Display", which brings together the 12.3-inch or 31.2-centimetre fully digital cockpit and the 14.9-inch or 37.9-centimetre screen of the infotainment-system into a frameless single-piece glass surface angled towards the driver. The graphics are sharp and the response speed is fast. In addition, a head-up display shows important information in the area of the windscreen, while the BMW i4 is already equipped with 5G technology for fast data transfers.

One of the new functions is "Learning Navigation": Based on the driver's habits associated with the individual "BMW ID", the navigation anticipates which destination the driver is likely to head for. This saves drivers the trouble of entering the destination for regular journeys, especially the daily commute to work, when they nevertheless wish to be alerted to delays or hazards along the route. At the destination the system also suggests parking spaces with additional charging facilities in the direct vicinity.

The infotainment-system is easy to operate - whether via an excellent voice control, the touch function of the display or the iDrive controller in the centre console. In order to use smartphone apps on the vehicle's touchscreen, connectivity is available via "Android Auto" and "Apple CarPlay". Of course, wireless charging of a smartphone is possible. Updates and upgrades for the in-car-software are imported quickly and easily over the air. So the vehicle is always up to date.

Driver Assistance Systems: Heavy traffic can be relaxed

As an option, the BMW i4 can be equipped with around 40 assistance functions enhancing comfort and safety when driving and parking. To name but a few: The "Driving Assistant Professional" acts as a smart co-driver and includes, among other things, a steering and lane control assistant, an emergency lane assistant and a lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection. In stop-and-go traffic, the "Driving Assistant Professional" takes over the steering wheel. If the system detects a red light clearly, the car will be braked automatically to a standstill - even when it is not getting closer to a vehicle in front.

Owning a BMW i4, parking becomes easy: The "Parking Assistant" enters and exits even tight parking spaces automatically. Moreover, the "3D View" function gives the owner the ability to call up a three-dimensional live image of the BMW i4 and its immediate vicinity on a smartphone.

Boot: The BMW i4 M50 offers a big advantage

With a decent boot size, the BMW i4 M50 is equipped for both everyday driving and travelling. The luggage compartment offers 470 litres of load space. As a big advantage, the boot opens with the full rear hatch lifting up and creating a large opening to allow easy loading and unloading. If the rear seat backrests are folded down, the load volume will increase to 1,290 litres with a slightly rising load floor. While many electric cars have an additional load compartment in the front, the so-called frunk, BMW placed power electronics there instead.

Verdict - BMW i4 M50:

Two electric motors and a system output of 400 kW/544 hp: the BMW i4 M50 knows how to thrill with its explosive performance. Furthermore, this electric car impresses with an excellent handling, a long range and a short charging time. In the interior, the BMW i4 M50 shines with high quality and a state-of-the-art infotainment system.

Technical Data: BMW i4 M50:

Length x width x height: 4783 x 1852 x 1448 mm (without mirrors folded 2073 mm) Wheelbase: 2856 mm

Type of drive: electric all-wheel drive
System output: 400 kW/544 hp
System torque: 795 Nm
System output front electric motor: 190 kW/258 hp
System torque front electric motor: 365 Nm
System output rear electric motor: 230 kW/313 hp
System torque rear electric motor: 430 Nm

Transmission: 1-speed automatic
Top speed: 225 km/h (electronically limited)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 3.9 seconds

Battery capacity: 83.9 kWh gross (80.7 kWh net)
Maximum charging power: 205 kW
Range (WLTP): 416 - 521 km
Energy consumption (WLTP): 18.0 - 22.5 kWh/100 km
CO2 emissions: 0 g/km

Charging time at fast-charging station (200 kW, DC): 10 - 80 % in 31 minutes
Charging time at wallbox (11 kW, three-phase AC): 0 - 100 % in 8:25 hours

Unladen weight (according to European regulation): 2290 kg
Boot capacity: 470 - 1.290 litres


author

Motorjournalist
Christian Brinkmann

Christian Brinkmann, born in 1974, is from Germany and a very passionate motor journalist. He tests cars all over the world and loves to feel the cars to get to know the character of each one - from small cars to supercars. For him, a road cannot have enough curves. In addition, Christian Brinkmann is a jury member of the well-known World Car Awards (World Car of the Year - WCOTY) and the German Car of the Year (GCOTY).
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