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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

We’re becoming accustomed to the explosive acceleration EVs can offer, but the BMW i4 M50 still has an ability to take your breath away any time you fully depress the accelerator pedal.

The numbers are impressive – 0-60mph took just 4.1sec even on a damp surface, and the 1.5sec taken to dispatch 40-60mph trails the best effort of a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ by just 0.2sec – but it’s the nature of the performance that’s memorable, particularly in terms of mid-range, roll-on acceleration. Response from the 17,000rpm motors is effectively instantaneous, and with the car’s Sport Boost function engaged, you’re given access to all 537bhp and 586lb ft for up to 10 seconds at a time.

Credit to
 BMW because,
 without naming
 names, certain makers have shown that adapting an ICE platform for an EV application yields all sorts of compromises, but the i4 feels much more bespoke and complete than those cars.

Ask everything of the powertrain and you might elicit a momentary shimmy from the rear axle, and perhaps a fleeting scrabble from the over-rotating front tyres, but the i4 M50’s traction control system gets its house in order with remarkable speed and deftness, and thereafter the car devours the road ahead.

As with all the most serious supercars money can buy, you need to have a clear head and good situational judgement before exploring the M50’s full performance potential. Naturally, acceleration is an event devoid of any real sound. The i4’s synthesised substitute for cam whine, intake roar and exhaust growl is the result of a collaboration with celebrated film-score composer Hans Zimmer, but most testers felt the resulting cyber-din came off as one-dimensional and just a little unnerving, as massive speeds accumulate with little audible fanfare. This remains something of a blindspot for fast EVs.

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There is, of course, a less frantic side to the i4 M50’s brand of performance, and easy-going pace and precision are arguably its most convincing traits. The car delivers linear, responsive acceleration that can be calmly micro-dosed in a way that makes getting from A to B a relaxing and instinctive experience. You can always tap into the well of performance for warp-speed overtakes, but it’s the powertrain’s straightforward and quietly muscular drivability that makes the car a cinch to live with. However, you get largely the same experience with the 335bhp i4 eDrive40.

As for braking, it’s largely academic. BMW thinks that with the adaptive regenerative braking programme enabled, 90% of all deceleration can happen without any instance of pad biting disc, and in everyday driving we can vouch that hardly any true brake intervention is required. However, during emergency stops, the i4 M50 was less than convincing, taking 61.4m to stop from 70mph and slithering out of its lane in the process. On the same day, in the same conditions, the Porsche Taycan took just 54.0m and remained arrow-straight. The difference could be in the tyres, the Porsche wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4 to the BMW’s Pirelli P Zero Elect.