Luddites might still be arguing over whether electric vehicles are practical. Those of us who get to drive them on a frequent basis are way past that. The question I have is---which styling approach will succeed?
Right now, there are two major schools of design in EVs. The "make it as different as possible from what we've seen before" school (Genesis GV60, Chevrolet Bolt, Toyota Bz4X and Subaru Solterra, Lucid Air, Kia EV6, Hyundai IONIQ 5, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Mercedes-Benz EQS, Jaguar I-PACE) has been the most common up until now. But there is also a segment of EVs that simply take an existing automobile and electrify it (Mini Cooper SE, Hyundai Kona Electric and to some extent the Ford F-150 Lightning). The advantage to school number two is familiarity. In removing the "it looks like a spaceship" first impression, it reduces intimidation, giving the driver a sense of "I know what this is and how to drive it." BMW is embracing both schools---its iX is otherworldly, but the i4? That's a car we know and love---an electric version of the M440 Gran Coupe.
There is one difference, apart from the means of propulsion under the hood. The BMW i4 M50 is faster than the M440i. Zero to 60 in the i4 M50 happens in 3.3 seconds. That's half a second quicker than the M440i xDrive's 3.8. That happens, despite the i4's extra battery weight, because BMW arranged for 536 horsepower from its electric motors, to 382 horsepower from the M440i's inline six gasoline engine with a mild hybrid.
Range is 227 miles, about par for a high-performance EV. Plus, the i4 M50 charges quickly---10 percent to 80 percent in 31 minutes on a DC fast charger. No, that's not a world-beating number (the GV60, IONIQ 5 and EV6 can do it in 18), but it's better than a lot of what's out there.
Apart from one screen replacing two separate screens for vehicle function, there's really no difference in the cockpit of the i4 compared to the M440i. Which completes the comfort factor. There are no tricks, no gimmicks. Just as in any modern BMW, you put your foot on the brake, press the "START" button (blue in this car instead of red), and drive.
The base price of the 2022 BMW i4 M50 is $65,900. A lot comes standard (Active M suspension, xDrive all-wheel drive, navigation, moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, multi-zone climate control and more) at that price.
But, as is typical in European performance/luxury cars, there were a substantial number of extra-cost options on our tester. The Frozen Portmaio Blue metallic paint was $3,600, the Drivers Assistance Pro package (extended traffic jam assistant and active driving assistant pro) was $1,700, the Parking Assistance Package (parking assistant plus, drive recorder, active park distance control, rear-view camera and surround view with 3D view) added $700, the Premium Package (heated steering wheel, lumbar support, heated front seats and ambient lighting) was $950, the M Carbon Exterior package was $2,800 and the High Performance Package (M Technology Package and 20-inch M wheels) was $2,500. Then came individual options---$300 for carbon fiber trim, $1,000 for Icon adaptive LED with Laserlight, $200 for wireless device charging, $300 for personal eSim 5G wireless, $1,000 for the curved display with head-up display and $875 for a Harman Kardon surround sound system. So, with $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2022 BMW i4 M50 is $82,820.
And, yes---ouch. That's nosebleed territory. But ours was also a pretty comprehensively loaded model. There's a lot in that $15,925 worth of extra-cost option that I could easily pass on. Splitting the difference and cutting the option list in half would bring this car in under $75,000. And, frankly, I could see a build of this that comes in under $70,000. At that price, the BMW i4 M50 could make a strong case for itself as a high-performance EV bargain.