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BMW i4 M50 Review: The Magic of 'M'

The M Performance Division's take on the i4 shows us that EVs can be exhilarating through the bends just as they are on the straights.
Joel Foo
Joel Foo
10 Oct 2022
What we like:
Practical liftback body
Spades accessible of power
Handles like a dream
What we dislike:
Its annual road tax bill

If you were one of the lucky few to be born early enough to witness the first christenings of BMW’s road-going cars with the revered ‘M’ badge, I think it would be quite difficult to have ever imagined seeing an ‘M’ badge on an EV, especially for a brand that has relied so long on naturally aspirated, high revving engines to propel their Ultimate Driving Machines.

As the world shifts towards greening its practices, ICEs might unfortunately be relegated to the history books in time to come. When exactly this will take place is still unknown for now, but the i4 M50 might just define what a performance-oriented 4-door car of the future should be, especially when compared against available offerings today.

Despite not being built on a dedicated BEV base, the excellently designed G26 4 Series Gran Coupé platform gives the i4 M50 an excellent starting point. Iterating from the i4 eDrive40 – the entry point to the i4 line up which we tested a couple of months ago – the M performance treatment not only adds extra oomph in the form of a dual motor set up, but various enhancements such as (and more notably) M adaptive suspension, variable sport steering, and M Sport brakes.

What was the classic and pure rear-wheel drive set up is now an all-wheel drive configuration. Much needed given that immense amount of power that’s at your disposal – all 544 bhp and 795 Nm of it. Although only available for about 10 seconds at a time when placed in ‘Sports Boost’ mode, the amount of power already available on tap is certainly more than sufficient for the mere mortals that pilot it at the helm.

0-100 might take place in a quoted 3.9 seconds, but it’s not just about the scores that the i4 M50 is able to hit, but also the way it makes you feel. Whilst most BEVs already feel brisk on the move, the M50 manages to redefine what it means to be urgent.

Granted that a tinge of torque steer that comes about when you bury your foot deep into the carpets, the i4 isn’t necessarily one that is a challenge to handle. True to its mantra of an M-performance variant, its steering is accurate and nicely weighted. The M50 darts around whichever corner you may point it at, and seems to have an endless amount of grip through those bends. It really seems as if nothing is ever too daunting for the M50, almost as if it’s on rails!

That being said, you wouldn’t be travelling at ludicrous speeds all the time – dialling the M50 down to one of its minor modes, it becomes a comfortable cruiser that has no issue zipping through stop-start city traffic.

I’d say skip the need to toggle between multiple regenerative braking modes and go straight to the ‘adaptive’ mode, which manages how much the car coasts and brakes, depending on the traffic situation ahead. I personally prefer the feel of the traditional 2-pedal control, but for this, an exception could be made (just that it might take some time for some to get used to).

With a claimed range of 510 km from its larger batteries (almost 100 km more than its eDrive40 sibling), the M50 should not have any trouble getting through the week’s commute – assuming a conservative style of driving is applied of course.

Also, I couldn’t have imagined ever saying this about a BEV, but coupled with that special and M-specific rendition of BMW’s IconicSounds by Hans Zimmer, the i4 M50 manages to stir a certain level of excitement every time you hit its start button.

This is quite in contrast to its rather subdued and discreet appearance from the outside. Despite being appointed the usual side mirror winglets and front and rear bumper treatments that come with most M-badged cars, the i4 M50 looks sporty, yet does not attract too much attention to itself.

Inside, you are cosseted by comfortable M-badged sports seats – which suit both sporty drives and calm cruises perfectly. Elsewhere, it offers a great sense of familiarity as it shares the same cockpit and curved touch panel layout as its 4 and i4 Series siblings.

Its rear is best suited for those below 1.8 m, but where it lacks in headroom, the i4 makes up in practicality. Having a lift-back as opposed to a standard boot-lid gives the i4 an edge over the typical sedan in the load lugging department. Great then, as your family (and their belongings) can partake in the thrills that the i4 M50 has to offer.

With the i4 M50, BMW might have managed to address the naysayers’ laments that BEVs will never be as exciting to drive as ICE-powered ones do. Having been shuttered into this world of efficiency that we are so used to from the world of BEVs, the i4 M50 has proved that electrifying our cars may not necessarily be the dull decision to make. The next, natural question is - what then will a full-fledged M electric vehicle feel like?

Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club

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