BMW i4 M50: Yes, This Sporty BMW Sedan is Also an Electric Car

Bmw I4 Featured Image

And that’s its magic power.

Does an electric car have to look like an electric car? And, can an electric car still be a fun to drive, powerful sports car? And, can it have everything you want, need and expect in a luxury car?

If you ask BMW, they’d say no, yes, yes, and YES! Which is obvious when you hop in to the BMW i4 M50. 

The View From The Driver'S Seat In The Bmw I4

The view from the driver’s seat in the BMW i4. Photo: Scotty Reiss

All Electric, and All BMW Fun

BMW took the very sleek, sexy and popular 4 series sedan and added an electric powertrain, M sport design and performance, a few fun and thrilling details and the company’s very good electric power train to turn this popular sedan, which BMW calls a Gran Coupe, into a must-drive electric car.

The M50 is the top of the line boasting not just the most power among the i4 models, but also, some of the coolest details.

Related: BMW’s 7 Series Just Got Even More Posh, Adding the BMW i7 Electric Car to the Lineup of Sedans and SUVs

The Sunroof And Hatch Give The Cabin An Airy Feeling

The sunroof and hatch give the cabin an airy feeling. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This Car is For

  • Drivers who want a fast, sporty electric car
  • BMW fans
  • Buyers who want a car that is under the radar — for electric cars, that is
  • Drivers who need seating for 4
  • Buyers who want a luxury experience 
  • Drivers who appreciate BMW’s smart charge and regenerative braking systems

Related: The Pros and Cons of Swapping to an Electric Car

The Gear Selector In The Bmw I4 M50

The gear selector in the BMW i4 M50; put it in sport mode for more fun. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Fun Starts with Sport Boost

I won’t dance around the novel and thrilling details: ‘boost mode’ is one of the most fun things you can find in an electric sports car, and BMW delivers with Sport Boost. Tap the Sport button the center console and then, the sport screen pops up on the multimedia system. Touch Sport Boost tab on the screen, then hit the accelerator and the car takes off like a rocket. Be careful, though; this is expressly for closed roads, empty highways and places devoid of walls or other objects that might get in your way. But, it’s a blast. 

Then, the Iconic Sounds collection lends a warp-speed Hollywood experience to the drive. Written and orchestrated — yes, orchestrated— by the famed composer Hans Zimmer, these sounds swell and fade as you drive; the faster you go, the more the sound increases in pitch and pace; as you slow, the sound does too. These settings can be turned on or off on the multimedia screen.

Related: Charging an Electric Car is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

The Charging Screen In The Bmw I4

The charging screen in the BMW i4. Photo: Scotty Reiss

BMW i4 Takes Electric Driving Seriously

As much fun as you may have with Sport Boost and the theater-style fun of Iconic Sounds, there’s also the thrill of driving well and efficiently on battery power. For that I really love BMW’s B mode, which maximizes regenerative braking. Pop the gear selector back to Drive and to the left for B mode; then, guide the car’s speed with mostly the accelerator. Put it in Eco mode for the maximum effect. In B mode the i4 is just as fun on curvy and hilly roads as it is in Sport Mode; it responds quickly, both as you accelerate and as you lift off the pedal to slow the car (without tapping the brake). In theory, driving in B mode will allow you to get all 270 miles, perhaps more, from the i4’s battery. But honestly, it’s hard to tell. I spent most of my time with my eyes on the road, not on the energy gauge, because this car is that fun to drive.

Head Up Display

The head up display in the BMW i4 M50. Photo: Scotty Reiss

All the Modern Luxury You Want and Need

The key here is modern luxury: sustainable materials; modern design; luxurious details. It starts with the sporty silhouette of the i4, which walks the line between compact sedan and sleek hatchback. The roof line swoops low toward the rear which is framed by the sweep of thin, elegant tail lights. This is a hatchback, though you wouldn’t know it from the outside. 

Inside, the hatchback design allows a bit more air and light into the cabin so you won’t feel claustrophobic despite the smallish space, even in the rear seat. And it accommodates true foldable rear seats for hauling cargo. 

Then, passengers are surrounded by Sensatec man-made leatherette upholstery, which if you didn’t know it’s not leather, would fool you — it looks and feels like leather. And, the curved, flat panel screen that spans the front dash lends to the modern look and function. Then, there’s carbon fiber trim, wireless charging and Apple CarPlay and BMW’s most advanced multimedia system with voice activated assist: say “hey BMW” and the assistant asks how she can help. I just love this. 

The Rear Seats Are Tight But There Is Plenty Of Foot Room

The rear seats are tight but there is plenty of foot room. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Elephant in the Car

Of course, there is one. And that is the distinctly not-electric car size and shape, and a drive shaft hump in the rear floor between the two outboard seats. To keep the size and shape of the gas-powered original, the i4 doesn’t have three things that are increasingly distinctive about electric cars: a larger passenger compartment due to battery storage under the passenger compartment; a higher ground clearance to accommodate those batteries; and a flat rear floor as a result of the battery structure. 

While BMW was able to accommodate the batteries under the existing body of the 4 Series, giving it the iconic size and shape BMW fans are used to, it still has the constrictions we come to expect too: smaller rear leg room, lower ground clearance and a hump in the rear floor. 

The Rear Of The Bmw I4 Shows Its New Look And Swoopy Tail Lights

The rear of the BMW i4 shows its new look and swoopy tail lights. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know 

  • Starting price is about $65K; as tested, about $82K
  • Power is suppled through two motors, one on the front and one on the rear axle
  • All wheel drive is standard
  • The powertrain generates 536 horsepower and 586 torque
  • It has an all electric range of 270 miles
  • It can charge to 80% in about 31 minutes at a DC fast charge station
  • Sport boost gives you an instant boost of all that power for a rocket-like experience (please, be careful)
  • Keeping with the sustainable theme, the interior is upholstered in SensaTec leatherette (though it looks and feels like leather and it’s a standard feature) 
  • BMW’s LiveCockpit Plus flat screen display is standard
  • This is a true luxury sports car with the price tag to accompany it
The Cargo Area Is Large And The Seats Fold Flat

The cargo area is large and the seats fold flat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Get for the Money 

  • BMW i4 eDrive 35 starts at $51,400 and features a single motor that delivers 281 horsepower and a 260 mile driving range
  • BMW i4 eDrive 50 starts at $55,900, takes the power up to 335 HP and the range to about 300 miles
  • BMW i4 M50 base price, $65,900
  • Frozen Portimao Blue paint, $3,600
  • High performance package, $2,500
  • M Carbon package, $2,800
  • Curved display panel and HUD, $1,000
  • Premium package, $950
  • Parking Assistance Pro, $1,700
  • Price of our test model, about $82,820

I was really excited to drive the i4 the first time I saw it. It has all of the classic sporty appeal of a BMW sports sedan, but with BMW’s well-done electric car power train. Then, loaded with great technology and modern luxury, it takes everything that BMW does to the next level. And, it does not give you that conspicuous “yes, I’m driving an electric car” look; you’ll fall right into the sports car pack. The only thing that might give away that you’re driving an electric car will be the smile on your face.

Disclosure: BMW provided the i4 M50 for this test drive; all opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss