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BMW i4 M50 Sets a New Electric M Standard

BMW i4 M50 Sets a New Electric M Standard

But that doesn't mean it's the same M you've always known

  • The BMW i4 M50 is the first EV with the brand's M badge
  • The M moniker stands for performance inspired by iconic BMW sports cars
  • The i4 M50 is plenty fast, but there's more to M than just speed

An electric BMW is big news, but an electric BMW wearing the brand's iconic M badge? That's monumental. Such is the case with the 2022 BMW i4 M50. The i4 is a fully electric four-door sedan, and its performance-inspired version is called the M50. That means it has additional power, braking and handling capabilities over a standard i4. To find out how the i4 M50 really stacks up, let's compare it against a BMW M3 Competition — a pure expression of the legendary M performance pedigree.

BMW i4 M50

BMW i4 M50

What is the i4 M50?

The i4 M50 is new for 2022, and it's the first EV from BMW that sports the hallowed M badge. While not a "full M car" like the gas-powered M3 and M5, for example, the i4 M50 boasts plenty of upgrades to boost its performance credentials. For starters it has two electric motors sending a total of 469 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. There is also a driving mode called Sport Boost that increases those numbers to 536 hp and 586 lb-ft. While the i4 M50 is EPA-rated at a modest 227 miles of total range, on the Edmunds EV test loop it achieved 268 miles, which is quite an improvement.

As for its body style, the i4 M50 is part of BMW's Gran Coupe family, meaning its sedan shape opens up to a hatchback-style cargo area. If it reminds you of the 4 Series Gran Coupe, you're onto something — the i4 is essentially an electrified version of that car. Unlike some EVs, the i4 M50 has no front trunk, or frunk, but its hatchback handiness helps make up for that.

How does the i4 M50 compare to the M3?

We procured an M3 Competition xDrive for testing purposes. It uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine making a whopping 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, plus a number of the most advanced upgrades that BMW offers today. Both the M3 Competition xDrive and the i4 M50 are powerful all-wheel-drive sedans.

The numbers are close. In acceleration from 0 to 60 mph, the M3 Competition xDrive managed 3.17 seconds while the i4 M50 needed 3.57 seconds. The greatest difference between the two cars was driving feel. The M3 offered a more visceral experience, not just from the sound of its engine but also from the rush of its quick reactions and responsive controls. By comparison, the i4 M50 weighed 1,163 pounds more (5,067 pounds versus 3,904 pounds) and felt reserved and muted on the track. The i4 M50 may match or even beat the M3 in some areas, but it feels lacking in engagement and responsiveness.

BMW i4 M50

BMW i4 M50

Does the i4 M50 deserve its M badge?

It makes sense to bless the i4 M50 with BMW's highest honor — its M badge. After all, the M50 can pump out more than 500 horsepower, and BMW will need electric vehicles with the M badge to keep the tradition alive in the coming EV age. But beyond improved sportiness and that extra muscle, the i4 M50 doesn't feel like a true successor to generations of invigorating M cars from the automaker.

Perhaps the character of an M car will inevitably change as these vehicles shift from gas-powered to battery-powered. And perhaps the i4 M50 is simply previewing a more impressive vehicle to come — the i4M "full M car" that we expect to debut in the near future. Potential buyers will need to consider whether a 5,000-pound electric vehicle can meet the bar set by BMW itself over decades of M fine-tuning. To forward-looking EV enthusiasts, the answer to whether the i4 M50 deserves its M badge may be a resounding "yes!" Others, however, may be tempted to wonder whether there's a place for true M cars in the future.

Edmunds says

If an M car is supposed to make drivers feel thrilled and inspired, then the i4 M50 falls short. While there's no questioning its speed, or even its handling capabilities, the intangibles that help M cars feel like living, breathing partners in driving are missing from this EV. The i4 M50 works as a fast electric vehicle. For a pure BMW experience, it's best to stick with the real thing.