|Positives: Crap your pants quick even in Normal mode, balanced but still aggressive styling, wonderful interior, practical hatchback, great efficiency for what's essentially an electric sports car.
|Negatives: Not especially engaging to drive, nostril kidney grilles are polarizing,
|Bottom Line: We love the i4 M50 because it really is an attractive, efficient, luxurious, practical, and high-performing EV sedan that doesn't look like Tesla. The quality is also apparent, and the tech is superb.
There's no question that BMW wants all of their cars to be great to drive, and the use of electric power makes it all the more exciting with immediate torque and a low center of gravity. The i4 M50i is quick, well-balanced, and taut. It just seems to lack the kind of driver engagement that was once synonymous with the brand. While we doubt most buyers would notice, we certainly do.
Ride Quality: The ride is firm but still very comfortable over bumps and gaps. The Adaptive M Suspension does a great job of altering the ride based on driving preferences.
Acceleration: Even when it's not in Sport mode, the i40 M50i is shockingly quick. Stomp on the gas, and feel your whole body get thrown into the seat. 0-60 mph comes in a mere 3.3 seconds. That's supercar quick and even quicker than the gas-powered, high-performance BMW M3. Torque is immediate, and you feel all of the 586 lb-ft as soon as you mash the gas. I scared the living daylights out of my kids, who were giddy after the initial fright.
Braking: You can one pedal drive if you so choose. The brakes are strong and authoritative, and that's impressive given the 5,018-lb curb weight. That's about as heavy as an X5.
Steering: The i4 M50's steering is razor sharp and very precise. It even has some good heft to the effort, but there's just not all that much feedback coming through.
Handling: Body roll is almost non-existent, and it corners very well. You just never quite forget about how heavy it is.
BMW is going whole hog with their new infotainment systems and instrument cluster that now occupy one huge screen setup that occupies the vast majority of the dash's real estate space. It's the right setup for this EV and it's quite marvelous to look at and use.
Infotainment System: The i4 gets the latest hardware and iDrive 8 software in the Bimmer lineup. There's a vivid 14.9-inch touchscreen that's integrated with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster on a truly expansive curved display. It's truly attractive and easy to read. We think its considerably better than the latest system from Mercedes-Benz.
Controls: iDrive controls are easy to operate from between the seats, and the steering wheel controls are also excellent.
We realize that BMW wants its vehicles to look different from the rest of the pack, but do some elements have to be so polarizing? We are, of course, talking about the huge kidney grilles in front. The rest of the car is truly attractive and sporty looking, and the interior is impeccably crafted and styled to match the exterior.
Front: What can we say about those huge grilles that dominate the front end? You can't unsee them, but they do grow on you. At least they're not clad in chromed plastic. The large outboard faux intakes help balance things out, but they're still overly huge in our opinion.
Rear: The back end has nicely styled taillights with an LED signature strip, and we love the muscular stance. The small lip spoiler is one of our favorite low-key touches.
Profile: The 4-Series Gran Coupe on which the i4 is based shows up here in the profile in the most obvious way, which is to say, a good thing. It's muscular, well-proportioned, and sporty with that sloping roofline.
Cabin: Although the big screens dominate the real estate, everything else looks great including the sporty red seats, the angular vents. and the linear dashboard. We just wish the center console and the shifter looked better. The big shiny piano black shift knob is unattractive, and the cheap grey plastic surround it should be replaced with something nicer.
There's a lot to love about the comfort levels in this electric rocketship. The front seats are sublime, and even the second-row seats are quite good. For a rakish electric sports sedan, this thing could be a family car.
Front Seats: The front sports seats have just the right amount of cushioning and excellent bolstering. We had no trouble feeling comfortable on our work commute and under hard cornering. The seating position and adjustability are also top-notch.
Rear Seats: 34.2 inches of legroom is plenty roomy for six-footers, although it's not as spacious as the Tesla Model 3 in the back. It's only by a smidge, though.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Noise is piped through in Sport mode, which is interesting. Otherwise, it's very quiet inside the i4 M50i, and there are no squeaks or rattles that we noticed. Wind noise is also not an issue even at high speeds.
Visibility: Sightlines all around are pretty good despite the rake of the roofline. The thinness of the pillars certainly helps, as does the seating position.
Climate: The i4 M50is climate system is great. Airflow is plentiful, and thanks to the electric powertrain heat and AC hit temps immediately. We just wish BMW's micro-adjustments were still available in the physical controls
The BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe (the car which the i4 has been based on) hasn't been tested yet by NHTSA or IIHS. It does platform share with the 3 Series, which gets a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. The safety tech set is also quite strong.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The i4 M50 comes with Active Driving Assistant with Frontal Collision Warning, Active, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning, Active Guard, Front and Rear Park Distance Control, and a Rear-view Camera. It also comes with Automatic high beams.,
Optional Tech: Our tester came with Active Driving Assistant Pro, Parking Assistant Plus, Drive Recorder, Active Park Distance Control, and a Surround View camera.
The presence of a hatchback is very convenient, but its capacity is limited. Nothing tall can get place in the back, and there is no frunk to bolster the i4 M50's capacity. Interior small storage options are quite good, though.
Storage Space: The center stack has a great retractable door binnacle, and the armrest is pretty large.
Cargo Room: There's a mere 10 cubic feet of cargo space. The Tesla Model 3 has over 20 cubes with the seats folded. At least loading is easy thanks to the huge liftgate.
The range isn't close to the Tesla Model 3, but we were able to exceed the EPA estimate of 227 miles. It was more than enough for us to do the week's work commute and then some. We also drove it pretty hard during our test period.
Observed: 254 miles of range.
The optional $875 Harman Kardon Surround Sound system that came with our tester was a bargain. The sound is excellent, and the asking price is surprisingly cheap for what you get. Plenty of bass, good midrange, and crisp sound make it wonderful to listen to.