I’ve been writing about EVs since I drove Elon Musk’s personal first-gen Tesla Roadster for Inhabitat over 10 years ago. It wrapped my lungs around my spine on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley, back before Tesla had a press fleet. My, how things have changed in a decade. This year, finally, the automotive industry is rolling out the first lineup of diverse EVs in a plan to shift the entire industry electric by 2035. I drove the BMW i4 thinking it would be similar to the early 2000s BMW electric concepts that have come out over the past decade. Boy, was I happy to be wrong.
The BMW i4 EV is unobtrusive, as much as any BMW is, and looks like a normal sedan. But the flush door handles, gaping front grille and low stance tell you that this is a sports car. What tells you that it’s electric is the way it accelerates to 80 miles per hour by accident from a stoplight before you realize why everyone else is driving so slow.
Yes, it’s that good.
This is a phenomenal car, you guys. I mean, really good. I couldn’t find a compromise anywhere. The design includes upmarket brakes (a little sticky, maybe, until you get used to them), a heads-up display that does tell you the speed limit if you’re looking for it, a high-end interior trim and satellite radio. And, oh yeah, this includes over 500 horsepower and a 245-mile range that never seems to go down even if you, ahem, test it a little.
The drive was quick, smooth and sporty but still with enough cushion under your rear that you avoid banging it on potholes. The car makes a sound like a hydroelectric dam when it really opens up. This is a car you can easily drive 90 miles per hour by accident on the freeway entrance ramp.
Interior and Sport mode
On the inside, the M50 has an extended screen on the dash stretching from the driver’s side to the center console. Enjoy a heads-up display or watch your speed on the screen in front of the driver. You can manage range and keep an eye on what driving mode you’re in, though you’ll make changes via the center screen.
We loved how easy it was to change modes from Eco to Comfort to Sport, adjust radio channels and navigate using the center screen. Comfort mode is cushy but not quite as fast as Sport. We’re not sure how much you could extend the range if you put the car in Eco mode which is even more restrictive.
Not so great features?
The gear shifter is an automatic on the console, but it’s a bit tricky. You have to press the button on the side of the shifter to get into certain gears, which is a bit awkward if you need to back up or change gears in a hurry. The turning radius on this car also isn’t the tightest, but all of these things are tradeoffs for the interior space and its power.
Beyond the EV credentials, BMW made sure the i4 is sustainable by producing it entirely with hydroelectric power at the company’s Dingolfing and Munich plants in Germany. In fact, BMW has doubled sales of fully electric cars in the first half of 2022. It might be time to get on a waitlist or call your local dealer to keep an eye out for one of these beauties if you’re in the market.
How much does it cost?
Starting MSRP for the superpowered M50 version of the i4 is $67,300. We had to check the price twice. No, that’s not exactly affordable for a daily driver, but for the souped-up sporty version of an all-electric sports sedan from a respected brand like BMW, that’s awesome.
The M50 boasts 536 horsepower and all-wheel drive with a range between 227-270 miles. And you know what? For the first time, I really believe them about that range. I drove the M50 i4 at all speeds in Eco, Comfort, and Sport modes that drastically changed the speed and responsiveness of the car, and the range barely even moved. I’m pretty sure I left the dealership at 245 miles of range, lost a few with some shenanigans on back roads, and by the time I came back half an hour later, was right back at 245 miles of range left even though I was in Sport mode.
The more affordable version
If you want rear-wheel drive and a bit more of an affordable $55,900 starting MRSP price, the BMW i4 eDrive40 version of this car will give you up to 301 miles of range and still get you 0-60 in 5.5 seconds with 335 horsepower, which is equivalent to a decent traditional BMW sedan. But trust me. If you want to feel on top of the world and happy about the future of the climate at the same time, go find the sport version. It’s so good. The future of EVs is looking bright.
Images via BMW
Editor’s Note: This test drive is not sponsored by BMW. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.