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I suppose it was only a matter of time to when BMW would produce an all electric performance car- the i40 M50 is a reality and I have driven it and what a joy!

Powered by a 190kW electric motor at the front axle and a 230kW version at the rear, which combine to produce a performance pleasing 544bhp. The motor driving the rear wheels generates maximum output of 313hp, while the unit at the front axle produces 258hp. Intelligently controlled interaction between the two electric drive units ensures the car always makes effortless progress and the fully variable system is matched exactly to the requirements at any given moment, offering everything from highly efficient pure rear-wheel drive through to an all-wheel-drive set-up that maximises traction The electric all-wheel-drive system allows drive torque to be adjusted with incredible speed and precision, thereby maximising dynamic performance, traction and handling stability. The fully variable system is matched exactly to the requirements at any given moment, offering everything from highly efficient pure rear-wheel drive through to an all-wheel-drive set-up that maximises traction. A specially designed boost function that can be activated on demand which brings the model’s high-performance character even more to the fore. The Sport Boost function increases the system’s combined drive power by 68bhp to its maximum of 544bhp for over ten seconds. At the same time, combined torque is upped by 65Nm to 795Nm. The burst of speed is accompanied by an M-specific soundtrack which was composed in collaboration with Hans Zimmer, to further intensify the performance experience inside the i4 M50. As I discovered, activating the Sport Boost function enables a sprint from rest to 100kph (62mph) in a mere 3.9 seconds and the Sport Boost effect can also be triggered several times in succession if the high-voltage battery has sufficient charge. The top end speed is 225kph (140mph) and it is electronically controlled.

With this newcomer, I got the feeling I was truly in command of a performance car, for which of course, this German carmaker is so highly regarded. The new BMW iDrive is an instrumental factor in the user experience on board and it is the most recent incarnation of the display and operating system takes the interaction between driver and vehicle into the digital future. The Operating System 8 features a new generation of displays, controls and software, plus extremely powerful connectivity and data processing. The new iDrive was designed with a clear focus on touch operation and on dialogue-based interaction using natural language and new features available immediately include the expanded capabilities of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which uses a new graphic to communicate with the vehicle’s occupants, and the Curved Display, the all-new fully digital display grouping formed by the information display and control display.

When I first stepped into the i4 M50 I got that decided BMW feel, clear design language and modern premium ambience with an extremely driver-focused cockpit design. This handsome gran coupe comes as standard with a very slim and low instrument panel, which provides the perfect stage for the latest version of the fully-digital display grouping and the innovative curved display brings the information display behind the steering wheel and the control display of the iDrive control/operation system together, into a frameless, single-piece glass surface angled towards the driver. The 12.3-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display effectively merge into a single driver-focused unit. The rest of the interior provides a highly involved driving experience; just what you would expect and sport seats and a sports steering wheel with multifunction buttons further add to the sheer driving pleasure. There is the use of Vernasca leather upholstery, electric memory seats, M seatbelts, Driving Assistant, wireless phone charging, aluminium Rhombicle anthracite trim and Live Cockpit Professional including Head-up display.

Model-specific design features give the i4 M50 eye-catching looks that clearly reference its sporting character. This car does get noticed with a front apron which has the signature U-shaped graphic of BMW M models and additional side air intakes optimise brake cooling. The BMW kidney grille surround and the vertical trim around the air curtains come in Cerium Grey, likewise the exterior mirror caps and the inlays in the outer edges of the rear apron, while the air breathers, the side sill trim strips and rear bumper trim are painted in High-gloss Black. There is an M-specific spoiler on the tailgate and a choice of wheel sizes. For those who may be of the opinion that the dawning of the electric car spelt boredom, that may well be the case with many, certainly not with this offering from BMW. Those are the facts but for me the real test is when you get behind the wheel. Down the years I have driven many M cars and this latest offering is truly worthy of the badge. Handling on a par with any model from the family that has gone before, I really felt confidence packed as I drove in a very spirited manner, performance aplenty and superb brakes.

To date, this is  the best EV I have driven- and I have tested quite a few, most having have had irritations such as poor range. This newcomer from BMW tops my EV chart. Finally on range and this is purely an indicator, I covered 110km (68 miles) at a brisk pace and I still had 68 percent of battery power left. Looking at the figures provided by BMW, 417km (260m) and 473km (294m) (city). Bear in mind, range will depend on the manner driven etc.

Ian Lynas



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