BMW i4 M50: Proof M Division Won't Fade Away With Internal Combustion

i4 M50 16 photos
Photo: BMW
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As I write this, there's an immaculate E34 BMW M5 sitting in my apartment complex's parking lot, complete with a front number plate straight from Hamburg. Who owns it? I have no idea. But after drooling over it as I drive past it every day for the last few weeks, the shock of what M Division's been up to lately was all the more astonishing.
This is the BMW i4 M50, proof-positive that M-Division sees the coming electric revolution as less of an existential threat to their existence but instead just a regular-old bump in the road. Say what you will about BMW's "tricky," so to say, design language. But more times than not, they've backed it up with raw performance.

At first glance, your brain has every reason to just see a very normal version of what appears to be a 5-series when first inspecting the dimensions of this car. Although, it's actually a few millimeters shorter than the 5-series. It's 4783-mm (188.3-inches) compared to the 5-Series' 4,963-mm (195.3-inches). As one inspects further, the guise of your average 5-series Bimmer fades away into familiar styling cues we've come to expect from EVs.

The large dual-panel front grille may look like a pair of human kidneys to some, and they're also flat instead of full of holes like an ICE car. But BMW seems steadfast in convincing its consumers that this is a design language worth sticking with. It's a style that's prevalent across a range of cars in the current BMW lineup and is sure to not be going anywhere anytime soon.

If you do enjoy the way the new i4 looks in both its standard and M Division forms, you can thank lead exterior designer Lim Seung-mo. Coincidentally, the same man who designed the i-Vision Dynamics concept car. You can take it or leave it in the looks department, frankly. But what the i4 M50 has packing under the floorboards looks sure to excite all the same.

BMW i4 M50
Photo: BMW
It's the fifth generation of BMW's proprietary eDrive unit that jets 536 hp and 795 Nm (586 lb-ft) of torque. All while using battery cells that use an absolute minimum of rare metals like cobalt. The electric motor suite itself in this car consists of dual three-phase synchronous electric motors distributed one in the front and one in the rear for even weighting and all-wheel drive capability.

All that EV jargon amounts to zero to 62 miles per hour (100 kph) in 3.9 seconds in the i4 M50, nearly two seconds quicker than the rear-drive, single-motor eDrive-40 i4 hitting the scene at the same time as its performance-oriented cousin.

The top speed is reported to be a somewhat paltry 225 km/h (140 mph), although high-end speed is rarely a strong virtue in battery EVs, to begin with. What's bound to be appreciated, however, is an estimated electric range of 270 miles (435 km) on a single charge, even with twin motors.

This ensures all but the longest cross-country road trips can be completed with an absolute minimum of time sitting around munching on hot dogs and chugging diet cola while you wait for the thing to charge. Better still, you can charge back up to 97 miles (156 km) of range with just a ten-minute jaunt on a DC fast-charger.

BMW i4 M50
Photo: BMW
Aka, enough time to stop into a Wawa/Sheetz/whatever fuel station convenience store is in your area, order a meatball sub, and come back to your i4 M50, ready to hit the road again. In theory, this would make long-distance 350-mile-plus (over 563 km) trips like, Say, London to Glasgow or New York to Pittsburgh doable with only a single stop for a DC fast-charge back to about half capacity or so, if you're in a hurry.

Those kinds of prospects sure make daily driving an EV for all your needs a heck of a lot more tolerable. Better still, this is a BMW, remember. So it's luxurious as well. With ten different colors of plush Vernasca Leather on offer depending on trim packages, the i4 lineup has the perfect shade for you surely.

The same is true of the exterior, with 11 color options on offer. As for the infotainment system, it's the eighth edition of BMW's iDrive system, one of the most polarizing units of the last 20 years, mostly because it never worked all that well in the early years. But it must be said, the 14.9-inch center screen merged with the 12.3-inch digital display gauge cluster makes for one of the most striking interiors we've seen in ages.

With a starting price of $65,900, we may finally be in a time when EV tech normally reserved for six-figure Luxo-barges start to trickle down into cheaper price points. Although calling $65,900 cheap is almost insulting to some people. You could buy a house in some rural parts of the U.S. for that kind of money.

BMW i4 M50
Photo: BMW
Thanks for tuning into the first day of BMW M Month here on autoevolution.
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