2022 BMW i4 Review: Take That, Tesla

Does this luxury electric car have enough to disrupt Tesla's market share?

Capital One

Article QuickTakes:

The 2022 BMW i4 is an all-electric, sports-luxury sedan that seats up to five, while also featuring a rear hatch for more cargo versatility. The i4 is offered in two trim levels of varying power output, with the sportier spec featuring all-wheel drive as opposed to the base spec’s rear-wheel drive.

What’s New for the 2022 BMW i4?

The i4 is an all-new model for BMW, but if this electric vehicle (EV) appears familiar, that’s because its exterior design is nearly identical to the gasoline-powered 4 Series Gran Coupe. Though it sports a radically different propulsion architecture, the i4 is still heavily based on the 4 Series—both cars even share the same Munich, Germany assembly line.

2022 BMW i4 M50 rear three-quarter lowManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Price and Configurations

The BMW i4 starts around $56,000 (including $995 for destination) and comes in two trims. The higher-grade i4 sports a starting price near $67,000, which you can inflate past $85,000 when you check every option box.

BMW i4 eDrive40 – Every i4 comes with an 81.5 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery and two years of complimentary, 30-minute charging sessions at Electrify America stations. With standard features like relatively small-diameter 18-inch wheels, and just one motor driving the rear axle, the base i4 boasts a Tesla Model 3-competitive, EPA-estimated range of 301 miles. Other standard niceties include the snazzy BMW Curved Display, a single piece of glass spanning most of the dashboard that seamlessly integrates a 12.3-inch information display ahead of the driver with a 14.9-inch control display atop the center stack. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also compulsory with the base i4, as well as a power sunroof, power rear liftgate, three-zone climate control, and 40/20/40-split folding rear seats.

BMW i4 M50 – In addition to a monumental boost in horsepower and torque over the i4 eDrive40, upgrading to the i4 M50 gets you a sportier exterior appearance, as well as standard, dual-motor all-wheel drive (AWD), adaptive suspension, and variable-ratio sport steering. Standard, beefier M Sport brakes handle the M50’s 536 hp and 586 lb.-ft. of torque, increases of 201 hp and 269 lb.-ft. over the eDrive40’s 335 hp and 317 lb.-ft. The M50 rolls on standard 19-inch wheels and features a maximum driving range of 270 miles, but that falls precipitously to 227 miles when rolling on the optional 20-inch rims.

2022 BMW i4 M50 front three-quarter, mountains, Angeles Crest HighwayManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Review and Test Drive

BMW is famous for its role in creating the modern-day sport sedan segment with ’70s-born icons like the 3 Series and 5 Series. By most indications, electric vehicles are the future, but what EV icons are brewing at BMW today? The i3, BMW’s first mass-produced EV, exited production in 2021. Though it was fun to drive and featured a lovely interior, its 153 miles of range and upright, city-car profile weren’t exactly aspirational.

Instead, history will view the Tesla Model S and Model 3 as the cars that kicked off the electric sports sedan segment: the Model S has been on sale since 2012 and the Model 3 since 2017. All that time and BMW has been without an electric performance sedan of its own… until now. The 2022 BMW i4 aims to bring the fight to Model 3, as well as a relative newcomer in the Polestar 2, which went on sale at the end of 2020. Does the i4 have enough appeal to strip some of the spotlight from the current crop of compact, electric, premium performance sedans?

For this 2022 BMW i4 review, I test-drove an M50, zig-zagging more than 500 miles all over Southern California. With extras like the Drivers Assistance Pro Package, Parking Assistance Package, Premium Package, High Performance Package with 20-inch wheels, and a handful of other options, my as-tested price came to $76,670. BMW provided the vehicle for this i4 review.

2022 BMW i4 M50 front, oversized kidney grille, faceManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Review: The Design

It would be irresponsible to discuss the BMW i4’s design without first addressing its stylistic room-dwelling elephant: the oversized kidney grille. This grille has been panned by automotive critics, but I’ve always liked it. That said, I don’t love it. Order one of these in white, and the kidneys appear downright obnoxious. However, darker paint mutes the ostentatiousness, thus transferring more attention to the attractive headlights.

Looking past the grille, the i4 takes a best-of-multiple worlds approach to its overall design. The i4 is a Gran Coupe—in BMW-speak, that means it has four doors and seats five occupants just like the 3 Series, but shares the two-door 4 Series Coupe’s more graceful roofline, as well as its body contours for an arguably more attractive 3 Series alternative.

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, back seatsManuel Carrillo III

But those looks come at a price in terms of back seat spaciousness. At 5-foot-10 and 135 pounds, I fit back there just fine, but larger passengers might want to sit up front. Despite the battery sitting beneath it, floor height is impressively low in the i4; however, middle-rear passengers will still have to contend with the center tunnel that remains from the combustion-powered vehicles sharing the i4’s platform.

The firm and supportive front seats do a great job of keeping you comfortable on longer drives, provided the weather is above freezing. The optional heating elements only get the seats lukewarm. The same goes for the optional heated steering wheel. These are bizarre shortcomings when you consider that these are the most efficient ways to keep warm when driving an EV. The hotter the seats and steering wheel, the less you have to use the electron-thirsty cabin heater.

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, Tacora Red Perforated SensaTec front seatsManuel Carrillo III

My tester’s seats were wrapped in the standard yet premium-looking SensaTec leatherette. Vernasca Leather upholstery is available, but requires the Premium Package (heated front seats, heated steering wheel, driver’s seat power lumbar, and ambient lighting). I’ve tested BMWs with the Vernasca upgrade, and personally, the smell of the leather is worth the extra money.

Even without the Vernasca Leather, you still get top-tier hide wrapping the steering wheel horn pad and rim. The rim itself is not only sumptuous to the touch, but for me, at least, its commendable thickness keeps my hands from getting fatigued after long stints of holding at 9 and 3.

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, dashboardManuel Carrillo III

Aluminum accent trim lined my test example’s lower dash and center console with a nice look and feel, but such brightwork can reflect too much sunlight, especially when the sunroof’s sunshade is open. To counter this, it’s possible to opt for the carbon fiber trim in an M50, or the Open Pore Fine Wood Oak Grain in an eDrive40. Overall cabin material quality is up to par for a car at this price, and where there is cheap plastic, it’s relegated to inconspicuous areas.

2022 BMW i4 M50 cargo areaManuel Carrillo III

Behind the split-folding rear seats, the cargo area measures out to 10 cubic feet. That seems small considering the i4’s rear cargo hold appears comparable in size with the Polestar 2’s rear space, which measures to 14.3 cu.-ft. The Model 3, meanwhile, boasts 19.8 cu.-ft., but the i4 has the hatchback advantage up its sleeve. (So does the Polestar.) Having that expanded opening helps when loading larger items, so don’t get hung up on the numbers. The i4’s real storage shortcoming is that there’s no frunk like you get with the Model 3 for an extra 3.1 cubic feet of storage.

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, cockpit through sunroofManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Review: The Technology

Front and center with the i4’s technology suite is the BMW Curved Display running the company’s latest infotainment software, iDrive 8. This system is as touch-responsive and easy to use as any smartphone. If you’d prefer to keep fingerprints off your screen, the center console’s rotary controller and surrounding hard buttons provide a viable alternative.

iDrive’s graphics look terrific, and though the menu structure plunges deep, the interface is logically laid out to minimize confusion. If this is your first time operating iDrive, there’s a learning curve to it, but once you get the hang of the system, it ends up being one of the better interfaces on the market.

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, infotainment touchscreenManuel Carrillo III

I wish I could say the same about its voice recognition system. Simply saying “defrost the windows” confused the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Another variation of those words did nothing, so I avoided the native voice tech after that. At least Siri understood me through Apple CarPlay’s voice recognition.

When searching for charge points along your route with the embedded navigation system, iDrive displays an option to filter results for fast chargers only. I tried the feature, only to be led to a charger that was no faster than Level 2 home charging, which takes at least eight hours from 0-100%. After that lengthy mishap, I downloaded the PlugShare app to my iPhone, which properly filters out slow chargers in search results.

But it wasn’t all roses after that. My next two charging sessions were at Electrify America chargers rated for up to 150 kW. The first session gave me a ho-hum 36.4 kW over precisely 1 hour. And charging only began after first encountering one of the site’s inoperable units, followed by 20 minutes on the phone with Electrify America tech support to get help connecting to an alternate. Later on, my second session gave me a much more respectable 50.7 kW over 31 minutes, which got me from 18% to 78%. That result is reasonably close to BMW’s maximum fast-charging claim of 10-80% in 31 minutes on a 200-kW connection. Take note: your charging experience will depend on the quality of the chargers available to you, and whether you can charge at home.

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, front-passenger viewManuel Carrillo III

The BMW i4 is the quietest EV I can ever remember being inside, so the available Harman Kardon sound system is a nice creature comfort against such a silent interior. The 464-watt, 16-speaker array sounds good, but I think Harman Kardon and BMW could have worked a little harder with this mid-$50,000 to mid-$80,000 car. The $29,000 Kia Soul Turbo has a Harman Kardon system that sounds better to my ears.

Speaking of less-than-ideal sounds, BMW worked with composer Hans Zimmer to create a sonic profile to match the i4’s acceleration. The feature is called Iconic Sounds Electric, and ends up making the i4 moan and wail like a Star Wars speeder bike with a BMW straight-six influence. It’s an interesting quirk at first, but then it gets repetitive and eventually disruptive, so some may want to shut it off in short order.

Safety tech is much less of a mixed bag with the i4, and BMW provides a reasonable level of standard advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). . My loaded tester also featured front cross-traffic alert, automated parallel parking, and adaptive cruise control with lane centering that’s wonderfully unobtrusive.

My favorite BMW ADAS is the $1,700 Extended Traffic Jam Assistant (ETJA). Whenever I’m on a freeway and traffic flow is below 40 mph, as long as the system sees my eyes locked onto the road, the car takes over the steering, accelerator, and the brakes. Though Cadillac’s Super Cruise works all the way up to 92 mph, ETJA does a fantastic job unraveling the wretchedness of a below-40 commute.

2022 BMW i4 M50 under-hood, front motor compartment and beauty coverManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Review: The Drive

With 536 hp and 586 lb.-ft. of torque, the i4 M50 is quick. BMW claims a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds. Though, with 5,018 pounds to lug around, the i4’s acceleration is noticeably less immediate than in the 4,182-lb. Model 3 at 3.1 seconds to 60 mph. But don’t call the i4 overweight just yet. Parked next to the Model 3, the i4 appears huge, almost like it’s an entire size class larger than the Tesla.

2022 BMW i4 M50 vs. Tesla Model 3 size comparison illustration

This BMW i4 M50 vs. Tesla Model 3 size comparison is an artist depiction based on an iPhone photo I took of the test vehicle parked next to my friendundefineds Model 3 Performance undefined Nisha Bhatt/Manuel Carrillo III

Shod in Pirelli summer tires, the i4 M50 aggressively devoured the twists and turns of Angeles Crest Highway with no perceptible body roll. On this famed road’s more technical sections, I’d put my money on the i4 being faster than the Model 3, but I’d blame that mostly on the tires. The i4 on 20-inch summer rubber changes direction ferociously, but always with the sense that it’s moving in spite of its weight issue. A Model 3, in contrast, feels relatively light with every change of direction, and there’s no sense that weight gremlins are lurking in the shadows, trying to slow your progress.

2022 BMW i4 M50 20-inch wheel, front-left, Style 868MManuel Carrillo III

All M50 i4s come with variable ratio steering that feels accurate across all bends in the road, no matter how loose or tight. The weighting is excellent, and there’s a touch of feedback, too, but it could be better. The only time my fingertips get any communication from the front tires is near the limits of adhesion when a wavy sensation begins to surface at the steering. This isn’t dynamic feedback encouraging me to maintain the vehicle’s balance. Rather, the waviness is a dull, binary sensation that simply makes me want to slow down. To sum up the handling, I’d say the i4 M50 can achieve all of a driver’s car’s dance moves, but it needs more grace.

That said, my tester’s brakes make the big i4 seem feathery. Braking feel is vague in the first 10% of pedal travel, but accurate and linear beyond that. I haven’t driven many cars on the Crest that can scrub speed as well as the i4 M50 can.

2022 BMW i4 M50 rear-three-quarter, highManuel Carrillo III

The only area where weight helps more than it hinders is in terms of ride quality. In the i4 M50, it’s fantastic, even with the Adaptive M Suspension in its firmest setting. Because the car is engineered aggressively against body roll, the i4 M50 feels uncomfortably stiff only when traveling over gutters and driveway entrances, so take those road features slowly and you’ll be fine.

I should also add this tip: Aggressive mountain driving paired with improper regen settings can mean range disaster. Case in point, I left home for Angeles Crest with my battery at 98%. Eighty-nine miles later I had 2%. I will never get those 5 hours, 13 minutes, and $17.08 back from that ChargePoint slow-charger at the base of Angeles Crest. Let my mistake inspire your wisdom.

2022 BMW i4 badge, logoManuel Carrillo III

Is the 2022 BMW i4 a Good Electric Car?

There could be any number of reasons why a Tesla Model 3 is not for you. You may see the minimalist, single-screen interior as incomplete. You may have owned one for five years and you’re ready for something different. Perhaps you’re tired of seeing Model 3s everywhere since 2017 and you want to bring variety to the ubiquity. Maybe you want an EV that still qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit, which the i4 does. Whatever your case, the BMW i4 is a viable alternative, and therefore a good electric car.

It may not be as balletic on a back road, but the i4 remains a ton of fun to drive while also being quieter, more refined and more comfortable than a Model 3. Those three reasons are enough to get the BMW over the comparably priced Tesla.

2022 BMW i4 M50 front three-quarter, laser light beams into fogManuel Carrillo III

BMW i4 Competitors for 2022

The BMW i4 directly competes with the Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2. Configured with most of the available options and packages, the i4 comes out to $76,420. Minus the $7,500 tax credit, that’s $68,920. Specced similarly, but without paying for the $12,000 “Full Self-Driving Capability,” the Model 3 comes out to $66,940 and is ineligible for the credit. The Polestar 2, meanwhile, prices to $71,650, or $64,150 after the credit.

Indirectly, the BMW i4 competes as a lower-priced alternative to the Audi e-tron GT, Lucid Air, Mercedes-Benz EQE, Porsche Taycan, and Tesla Model S.

2022 BMW i4 M50 rear fasciaManuel Carrillo III

BMW i4 Features


BMW has been selling an EV in the US since 2014 with the outstanding i3; a fantastic car with thoughtful, swanky touches. At the end of the day, though, it was a fancy city commuter less concerned with luxury and more innovation-focused, instead. Now, thanks to a solid 3 Series and 4 Series foundation, the i4 represents an EV worthy of the BMW badge that can finally take the fight to the Tesla Model 3.

2022 BMW i4 M50 front kidney grille with laser headlight into fogManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Safety Features

  • Pedestrian and cyclist-detecting automatic emergency braking – Standard feature that uses sensors to prevent crashes with pedestrians, cyclists, as well as vehicles moving and stationary
  • Active Blind Spot Detection – Standard tech warns of vehicles inside your blind spots
  • Rear cross-traffic alert – Standard feature scans for danger at the rear of the car, helping to prevent a crash if you’re reversing
  • Lane-keep assist – Standard tech can nudge steering to help prevent driver from veering outside the intended travel lane
  • Traffic sign recognition – Standard feature employs front camera and navigation system data to relay road sign info into the driver’s information display
  • Automatic high-beams – Standard tech automatically switches headlight beam dependent on traffic approaching
  • Front cross-traffic alert – Available* tech scans for danger at the front of the vehicle, helping to prevent a crash if you’re pulling out blindly into an intersection
  • Parking Assistant Plus – Available* feature can maneuver the i4 into perpendicular or parallel spaces, not only controlling the steering, but also the brake, accelerator and gear changes
  • Extended Traffic Jam Assistant – Available* system combiness adaptive cruise control and lane-centering for limited hands-free operation under 40 mph

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, center console, iDrive controls and shifterManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Technology

  • iDrive 8 – Standard infotainment system with 14.9-inch control display and 12.3-inch information display integrated into one piece of glass
  • Premium audio system – Available* 16-speaker, 464-watt Harman Kardon array
  • Surround view camera – In addition to the conventional top-down view that 360-degree cameras provide, there’s also a setting in this available* feature that allows you to virtually walk around the car
  • Personal eSIM 5G – Available* tech turns your BMW into a 5G mobile device and Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Head-up display – Available* tech presents all pertinent vehicle and road info inside the windshield and within driver’s line of sight

2022 BMW i4 Specs

  • 81.5 kWh battery (net)
  • 335 to 536 horsepower, 317 to 586 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 to 5.5 seconds
  • Rear- or all-wheel drive
  • 80 to 109 MPGe combined

2022 BMW i4 M50 interior, ambient lightingManuel Carrillo III

2022 BMW i4 Interior

  • 40/20/40-split, fold-down, through-load rear seats – Standard rear seat arrangement offers maximum people- and cargo-carrying interchangeability
  • Power glass moonroof – Standard, with large opening and electric sunshade
  • Three-zone automatic climate control – Standard discrete temperature control for the driver, front passenger and rear-seat occupants
  • Ambient lighting – Available* tech bathes the i4’s interior in driver-selectable color accents (pictured above)
  • Heated and ventilated front seats – Available* feature affords more temperature control at skin surface

2022 BMW i4 M50 side profileManuel Carrillo III

*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections

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Manuel Carrillo III
Though he works within every facet of automotive media, Manuel Carrillo III is happiest in front of the camera, where he currently co-hosts a popular TV show on a major network. Before joining Capital One, Manuel was automotive reviews editor at a large technology publication. He also contributes feature stories to a leading outlet in the global luxury market, so adventures like driving house-priced automobiles in Sicily, or rubbing elbows with the rich and famous is well within the parameters of a 'typical day at the office.'