The 2022 BMW i4 M50 is an electric M3

It had to happen. BMW has finally steered its EV development efforts in a direction that should catch the attention of brand loyalists as well as Tesla Model 3 owners with a wandering eye. The Bavarians went and built an electric 4-Series Gran Coupe called the i4. That’s as close as we’re likely to get to an electric 3 Series, which is probably for the best considering the i3 name was previously given to an IKEA-furnished pod on skinny wagon wheels. Alloy wagon rims, but still.

Plus, the Gran Coupe is a better EV candidate than a traditional sedan because it has four doors plus a tailgate that doesn’t stand as one until you open the hatch and watch the tailgate lift. Its longer roofline is a boon to rear-seat space and luggage space, which is important as the 81.5kWh battery pack gives the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive i4 eDrive40 301 miles of EPA rated range that makes road trips an attractive proposition. Rated range drops to 227 miles, however, for the version tested here: the dual-motor i4 M50 on its optional 20-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Elect summer tyres. That’s still a respectable amount for people who reside in the Sunbelt, but those who occupy colder, snowier climates might think otherwise unless they have a gas-powered winter thresher.

Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and driver

HIGHS: Faster than an M3, impressive grip and balance, practical hatchback body style.

But dwelling on those practicalities misses the most important point: the i4 M50’s two electric motors combine for a combined 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque that allow it to embarrass an M3. These are unique “current-excited” AC synchronous motors, which forego the usual rare-earth permanent magnets and instead use brushes to supply DC current from the battery to power the copper lobes of the rotor and create a magnetic field. All other EVs use brushless motors, but BMW was motivated to avoid the costs, supply chain uncertainties and mining issues of sourcing rare-earth magnets, and it found a means of operating brushes in an automotive application. This approach also gives engineers an extra knob to turn, as the power electronics can continually change the magnetic field strength of this unique rotor.

Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and driver

That, uh, that seems to work. Our test car completed a 3.3-second sprint to 60 mph that beats the rear-drive M3 Competition we tested by 0.2 seconds. In a 5-60 mph rolling start, where no car can use launch control, the instant torque and direct drive of the M50’s dual electric motors gets the job done in just 3.5 seconds, while the 3.0 motor The M3 Competition’s twin-turbocharged one-litre straight-six takes time to develop, requiring a full second more to hit the mark. The same goes for the 30-50 and 50-70 mph passing tests, where the M50’s heartbreaking 1.5 and 2.0 second times leave the M3 Competition and its 2.4 and 2, 7 seconds in its wake. . The M3 Competition gets sorted towards the end of the quarter-mile, however, where it outpaces the M50’s impressive 11.7-second run to 120 mph by 0.1 seconds and 4 mph. That’s no doubt due to the M50’s 5,063-pound curb weight, which tops the M3 Competition’s 1,243-pound payload otherwise known as the payload capacity of a 2022 Ram 1500 HFE Quad Cab pickup.

This extra load of weight doesn’t hold the M50 back when the road goes from straight to twisty. It’s all the mass of the centralized battery that sits under the ground, so the resulting lower center of gravity results in valuable little body roll. The M50 changes direction willingly enough, and its harsh acceleration blurs the landscape and truncates the straights as you rush to the next braking point. Strong throttle regeneration starts the slowing process as soon as you release the throttle, and the moment you transfer your foot to the brakes (which can stop from 70 mph on their own in 154 feet) it becomes a matter of adding pedal to balance the car. The result is a very smooth and engaging way to shove the M50 around corners with barely a whiff of understeer. Its 0.97g of lateral grip exceeds that of the M340i by 0.1g, but it can’t quite match the M3 Competition’s 1.03g because of all that extra weight.

Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and driver

LOW: the direction lacks life, tron-like the soundscape in Sport mode, much less range than non-M RWD version.

Through it all, the one thing that holds the M50 back from greatness is the somewhat antiseptic feel of its steering. Response is precise like all outings, and the steering wheel rim itself is pleasingly thick and tactile, but there’s not enough road feel to help you subconsciously judge the right amount of lock to dial when you approach a given corner. Also, the Sport mode you’ll want to be in at this point comes with a space tronAn interior soundscape as silly as you probably imagine. Sorry, Hans Zimmer. It’s just not the same as the growl of a V-8 or the sing of a turbocharged six.

Back in town, the M50 turns into a thoroughly enjoyable daily driver, thanks in part to expertly tuned adaptive dampers that take a believable step towards softness when you set them in Comfort mode. The expanse of curved screens and optional heads-up display do a great job of rendering instrumentation and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto from your connected smartphone, and the iDrive controller and its menus seem to have come into their own.

Jessica Lynn WalkerCar and driver

In the end, our nearly 500 miles of aggressive mountain, non-combative suburban, and typical highway driving came to a combined 83 MPGe, which compares favorably to the 80 MPGe found on our M50’s window sticker. aggressive option. Still, this level of consumption is nothing out of the ordinary, and the i4’s 200kW DC fast-charging rate, while decent, seems mediocre next to the capabilities of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.

Perhaps the best part of it all is the price, which is something we don’t often say when we talk about electric vehicles. While our all-optional test sample came in at $76,670 (before any tax credits), it’s hard to ignore that the i4 M50’s $66,895 base price is $7,100 lower than of an M3 Competition. Sure, a base Tesla Model 3 Performance costs about $6,455 less than the M50, but that $7,500 tax credit is no longer available to Model 3 buyers.

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