Most of the vehicles I drive are either internal combustion engines, hybrids, or plug-in hybrids that offer some of the best features of an all-electric vehicle, but with the gas-powered engine once the battery runs outta juice. Fully electric vehicles are a bit harder to find in the auto journalist fleets, suffice to say, partially because they require more expertise from the journalist: Ya gotta know where and how to charge them if nothing else. When BMW reached out to offer a chance to drive the 2022 BMW i4 M50 electric, its first EV sedan, I immediately said “yes”, trying to stay cool about the chance to spend a week driving one of the best new EVs that featured classic sports car luxury.
The i4 didn’t disappoint. In fact, like all EVs, it has fairly insane levels of power, offering a 3.7-second launch from 0 to 60mph. It’s possible that I tested that on some empty roads, but I can neither confirm nor deny that it’s quite an experience when you’re used to cars that take 8-10 seconds to accomplish the same acceleration. It’s also gorgeous in Mineral White Metallic:
Yes, it has the “beaver teeth” front grill, which is even more peculiar on this model because the top portion is plastic. Still, there’s a sense of power, of a vehicle poised and ready to leap forward even just sitting still that’s part of the appeal of the venerable BMW lineup. Where this i4 really shined was with the interior design. It’s very luxurious with its Cognac Perforated seats and dashboard design:
The seats are ridiculously comfortable with many dimensions of adjustment, and you can see the curved infotainment display is a sleek addition to the overall dashboard design. Between the steering wheel controls and the center console controls, there’s not much reason to ever touch any of the main dash controls, but they’re easy to figure out when you do need to tweak and adjust things as you hum silently down the highway.
The center console controls are worth a closer look too:
The buttons along the left side allow easy switching of drive modes, though in an EV I didn’t find an enormous difference as is typically the case with an internal combustion engine. The gear shift is easy and simplifies the entire gearing system down to three gears: reverse, neutral, drive. Under the hood is a dual electric motor with a continuously variable transmission, so the driver doesn’t really have to focus much at all on the drive technology.
The main gauge display is definitely unique and interesting too:
Most important for drivers the lower left shows the percentage of battery life left, and the lower right shows the estimated miles left on the charge. Since this is a full EV, getting to zero is like running out of gas, something you really don’t want to do. If you’re an EV enthusiast, you’ll appreciate that I saw 364 Wh/mi with my mostly highway driving. Unlike many cars I test drive, I absolutely expect that the i4 M50 could get up to at least 120mph if not faster. I did not test that, lacking a handy autobahn here in Colorado. Notice also on the gauge display the speed limit sign. Yes, I was 5mph over the speed limit when this image was captured.
It’s not startling new tech at this point, but the 360-degree camera system offers a really fun and interesting parking experience, as you can see as I back the BMW i4 into my driveway:
I have quite a wall of sunflowers, so if I had a passenger, they would definitely be battling with the flowers to get out of the car, as the graphics showing the open door area indicate. Note that there’s also both “Automatic Parking” and “Back-Up Assistant” so if I were pulling into a parking spot, I could let the car do the work if desired. Sadly, though, the “Car wash” button does not automatically clean the vehicle. Perhaps that’s coming in the 2023 model.
This i4 also had what BMW calls the “shadowline” lighting package, including beautiful interior detail lights:
They added a surprisingly luxurious touch, a nod to the interior lighting of a limousine…
2022 BMW I4 M50 EXTERIOR
Stepping out of the vehicle, you can see that the legroom for rear passengers isn’t horrible, but if you have a tall driver or passenger in the front seat, there might be some grumbles from older rear seat passengers:
That’s one of those important compromises when the driver is tall – I’m 6′ 3″ – and I definitely adjust the seat differently if I have a passenger behind me than if I’m driving solo. I expect most taller drivers do the same, and for sure the volume of the Harmon Kardon surround sound HiFi system justifies crankin’ it up too. In fact, the audio system was very nice, appropriate for a vehicle where you have a quieter cabin because you don’t have a noisy gas engine 12″ from the front dashboard.
The rear storage configuration was interesting because the i4 is a hatchback:
There’s a lot of room, but it’s not very tall at all; the storage closest to the rear bumper is too short for a full bag of shopping. Push it in a bit, however, and you’re fine. It’s also a 60/40 seatback if you want to gain additional space as needed.
So much to like. Then a system glitch happened: the audio system “forgot” how to switch inputs and concluded that there was no audio input signal at all, regardless of what input I had selected:
Research revealed that there’s a Service Bulletin from BMW about the problem – it’s related to the amperage going into the audio system – and that it’s been around for years. Interestingly, I talked with my automotive colleague Kyle Conner who told me they’d experienced the same problem with this BMW and had attempted to solve it. I can confirm that the audio system was working beautifully for almost my entire loaner period, until it just… stopped working. Of course, a glitch of this nature can happen with any vehicle from any manufacturer, so I’m not suggesting it is in any way a flaw or negative with the i4. It was just an interesting experience to have it occur, then learn I wasn’t the first to experience it with this specific loaner vehicle.
BMW prides itself on being a driver’s car manufacturer and the i4 doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It’s really fun to drive, with so much acceleration that I constantly had to check myself and slow down lest I blast past a cop or be driving far too fast to be safe in a specific situation. The combination of the EV driving experience and the lux comfort and design makes this a car that I would definitely buy for myself if I were in the market. It’s a cherry and one you should definitely test drive before you decide which EV is best for your needs.
2022 BMW i4 M50 with 20″ Wheels and Dual all-electric motors. In Mineral White Metallic with Cognac interior. MSRP: $65,900. Also included in this vehicle: Driver Assistance Pro Package, Shadowline Package, Parking Assistance Package, High Performance Package, Wireless Device Charging, BMW Curved Display with HUD, Harmon Kardon Surround Sound, and more. AS DRIVEN: $77,070.00.
Disclosure: BMW loaned me the i4 for a week in return for this writeup. Which I definitely appreciate!