Ian Shaw’s 2024 BMW i4 M50 G26

Ian Shaw’s 2024 BMW i4 M50 G26

At the risk of this becoming a list of firsts, let’s start with the fact that this i4 M50 is the first BMW car I have ever owned – although I’m on my second MINI and previously had an S1000 RR superbike if that helps. The i4 M50 also happens to be the first fully-electric BMW car (not SUV) with xDrive and the first BMW EV to be awarded full M-status. Every journey has to start somewhere, but my BMW journey started somewhere else entirely.


The first BMW I ever drove was in itself a first, too. The first European production car to use a turbocharged engine: a 1973 2002 Turbo. They were below-the-radar classics back then, in the early 1990s, and certainly not worth the telephone numbers they command today. That’s probably why BMW specialist restorers Jaymic lent theirs to the young editor of a little (now defunct) classic car magazine. My beginnings as a vehicle journalist had been in the 4x4 press, my (limited) motorsport experience in rallying, while as a schoolboy, I’d seen the quattro turn that world on its head. BMW didn’t offer xDrive models in the UK back then, so a succession of said Audis waymarked my fast-saloon journey. My main diet of Bayerische products would come later, editing a fleet industry publication. It was the era of the 3 Series outselling Ford’s repmobile. Tony Blair famously went after Mondeoman, only to find that he’d voted Tory and leased a Beemer instead. Looking back, the 1990s was singularly the most exciting and tumultuous period in the company’s history. Never a week went by without BMW being featured in the news pages. It supplied the engine for the fastest road car in the world, bought the Rover Group – known in the Munich boardroom as ‘The English Patient’, after the film of the time – and sunk billions of Marks into it.


Ian Shaw’s 2024 BMW i4 M50 G26

For that, it gained ownership of Land Rover and made arguably the best Range Rover of them all, the Mk3. It re-invented the MINI and built a Rolls- Royce the way it should have been, but latterly had not, even prototyping a V16 engine for it, but settling for the proven V12 in production. BMW models constantly won group tests to which I was party, and I always felt reluctant to hand back the keys. If you think it’s a mystery that I never owned a BMW before now, you’re not alone. So, today I find myself surrounded by experts on the marque on these pages, and while I try to remember if the E31 was the best Autobahn-stormer of its day or a vitamin supplement, let’s curtail these ramblings and look at EVs.

BMW’s electric concept cars came but never went, and its two-pronged attack on the EV market began in earnest with a contrasting pair of designs featuring similar hybrid/range-extender engines courtesy of the MINI. Aesthetically they were poles apart; the i8, suitably futuristic, in an FIA Group-5 meets Blade Runner sort of way, while the i3 was, unfortunately, more Sinclair C5 meets bus shelter, as everyone wondered why BMW had not just electrified the 3 Series instead. Meanwhile, in the background, the Gran Coupé had appeared, and while splitting niches seldom works well, this one did. We didn’t know it then, but it was the ideal candidate for electric traction, with a long wheelbase to house a big battery, a muscular stance to handle the power, and 5 Series-esque cabin and luggage accommodation. It was launched in November 2021 as the i4 – in eDrive40, rear-wheel-drive form – and the i4 M50 with all-wheel-drive The i4 M50 also being the first purely electric performance car from BMW M GmbH. An electric motor at each end combined to produce 544hp and 586lb ft of torque with a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds, topping out at 140mph and a claimed range of 316 miles on the (wildly optimistic) WLTP test cycle.

The internet told me delivery would be 12 to 18 months away, and the few ex-demos were excessively priced, so I set about ‘building’ a car on the BMW website to email, scatter-gun style, at as many dealers as I could think of. While running an errand, I called in to my local BMW Centre to get the delivery situation straight from the horse’s mouth. “12 to 18 months,” was the response. “Probably nearer 18, but I’ll check,” said the obliging salesman, only to return with a colleague, who announced: “We have a cancelled order, what colour were you after.” The cancelled order and colour choice question immediately led me to think it was a spec-changeable order in the pipeline, which might be a couple of months away until he added: “It’s outside, do you want to see it?” Another first: I was speechless.

Not only was it in the same colour inside and out as my web build, but it had the factory options I wanted – plus one or two more than I’d probably have picked – and it looked fantastic. In Black Sapphire metallic, with black Vernasca leather and blue stitching, sitting on 20” 868M double-spoke bicolour Jet black alloys, shod with Pirelli P Zeros in 255/35 tyres on the front with 285/30s at the rear. The additions of Comfort Pack, Technology Pack and Visibility Pack also meant it had just the right spec mix.


Ian Shaw’s 2024 BMW i4 M50 G26

I collected it two days later, drove it a handful of miles home, into the garage and had to go away for a fortnight! Therefore, we’ll get onto some driving impressions next time, but, for now, just tootling around my locale to shoot these images, it is commendably well-riding – particularly on such lowprofile rubber. It is also expectedly silent in Comfort mode, tremendously keen in Sport mode, oozing technology, with cosseting luxury and excellent build quality. Any first drive of a car always automatically pulls an index card out of the drawer furthest to the back of my mind. This one had 840Ci written on it. There are settings to set, modes to configure and adjustments to make, both in the car and across my judgemental parameters. Now I just have to go and plug it in first…

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