Review: 2022 BMW i4 – a luxury EV done right
The new BMW i4 is a beautiful example of what can happen when an automaker pulls no punches in making something timeless. It's a luxury car in every sense of the term. Like a tailored suit, the i4 fits its intended category well.
When BMW unveiled the new i4, it was immediately compared to the Tesla Model 3. That’s not a very apt comparison, as the Bimmer is far more sophisticated and less "speed and wow" in its design and composition. The i4 is a luxury car that happens to be electric, not an electric car sold at luxury prices.
At a glance
- No it isn’t a “Tesla killer” and shouldn’t be viewed as such
- Two models with realistic range estimates
- Excellent mixture of luxury and sport in the M50 model
- Regenerative braking is aggressive and requires some adaptation
Like most BMW sedans, the i4 comes in a couple of formats. This starts with the eDrive40 with its 301 miles (484.5 km) of estimated rear-driven range, and moves to the M50 model with all-wheel drive and more power, but less range (282 mi/453.8 km, estimated). We drove the M50 Gran Coupe model for a week, and found its estimated range to be close enough to the real world to be a reliable estimation most of the time.
The 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 is rear-wheel drive (motor is mounted on the rear axle) and produces 335 horsepower (250 kW) and 317 pound-feet (429.8 Nm) of torque. The M50 adds a second motor to the front axle, boosting output to 469 hp (349.7 kW) and 538 lb-ft (729.4 Nm) with a 10-second-ish boost option to get to 536 hp (400 kW) and 586 lb-ft (794.5 Nm). That’s clearly a huge jump in power output between the models, so we’re not going to try to speak to the eDrive40’s performance comparatively, as our experience is entirely with the far more powerful M50.
That said, the 2022 BMW i4 M50 Gran Coupe is a wonderfully well-done sports sedan, and would be so no matter the type of powertrain. An equivalent gasoline option would be just as great on most levels, but we will admit that the instant torque of the M50’s electrics, especially with that initial boost, is phenomenal. It’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t like a 0-60 mph (92 km/h) sprint in less than four seconds. For the record, our average sprint (no rolling start, public road, average of three attempts) was 3.95 seconds.
For efficiency testing, we drove the 2022 BMW i4 M50 the same way we would any other vehicle. At altitude (6,400 ft/1,950.7 m) on the High Plains of the US, we drove the M50 as a daily driver but also did a highway loop between charges. Our normal driving as a daily, with mostly in-town and light highway use, showed that getting the EPA’s estimated rating in the M50 would be realistic.
On our 42-mile (68-km) highway loop – the same highway in both directions, at 75 mph (121 km/h) – we found that the i4 M50 uses about 422 Wh/mile (262 Wh/km). That’s respectable and it means that the i4 M50 has just over 210 miles (338 km) of highway range at that rate of usage. That makes its highway loss about average for most of the EVs we’ve tested, which lose between 20 and 30 percent of their total estimated range when used purely on the highway.
Driving the i4 M50 is an enjoyable experience. It’s quiet, of course, but also smooth and predictable in its handling. It’s speedy when needed and sedate when cruising. The interior of the i4 is well appointed and crisply done in the minimalistic style for which BMW is known. The large screens, well-done inlay, and comfortable seating are the basis for the i4’s luxury. Its suite of electronic driver’s aids and safety systems are always in the background, rarely jumping out for attention.
The only exception to the BMW’s driving excellence is its regenerative braking. During in-town driving, it takes some time to adjust to the aggressive nature of the braking process. By default, the i4 will brake slowly upon release of the throttle, but will immediately begin feeling grabby when the brake pedal is engaged. It takes some time to learn to ease into the pedal by small measures, in order to make braking smooth. Once mastered, of course, this negative for the BMW i4 falls into the background.
It’s difficult to find a car comparable to the BMW i4 M50 without just looking at other BMW models already on the market. It has much in common (in terms of dynamics) with the BMW 5 Series, specifically the M550i. Perhaps we’ll find a comparable option when we drive the Mercedes-Benz EQS. It is clear, however, that the Tesla models this BMW is most often compared to are not really parallel. They lack the luxury fitments, and are more performance-oriented in design by comparison.
The 2022 BMW i4 has a starting price of about US$57,000 and our M5 Gran Coupe model had a total window sticker of $77,000 after delivery.
Product page: 2022 BMW i4
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And clearly the author's idea of 'minimalist' is different to mine.