The all-electric BMW i4 M50 challenges the BMW M3 Competition. Can it make a case for performance EVs, or will the M3 spank it to oblivion?by Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 04:14
BMW is gradually expanding its EV lineup and one of the newest additions is the BMW i4 M50. This is currently the closest thing to an all-electric equivalent of the BMW M3 Competition, which is why CarWow decided to pit these two together, for a series of drag races.
BMW M3 Competition
The BMW M3 Competition relies on the tried-and-tested 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six engine, which puts out 510 horsepower and 478 pound-feet (650 Nm). While all-wheel drive is optional, this particular one sends power to the rear wheels only, through a ZF eight-speed automatic. The M3 Competition tips the scales at 3,814 pounds (1,730 kg) and, in the UK, starts at £75,660.
BMW i4 M50
Despite the i4 M50 not being a full M-car, it packs 544 horsepower and 585 pound-feet (794 Nm), from its twin-electric motor setup, which also grants all-wheel-drive capabilities. However, it’s quite a bit heavier than the M3 Competition, tipping the scales at 4,883 pounds (2,215 kg). Even more surprising is the price - £63,905 – which makes it less expensive than the M3 Competition.
The Drag Race
It’s best two out of three, this time, as both cars seem to be quite evenly matched. The i40 M50 demonstrates, over and over, the benefits of instant low-end torque while the M3 Competition thrives on the top end. With an equally good start, however, the BMW M3 managed to win two of the races, by 0.2 seconds, finishing the quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds, compared to the i4 M50’s 11.9 seconds.
That said, the electric car managed to get the jump on the rear-wheel-drive M3, in the second race, allowing it to barely win one race. Interestingly enough, the i4 M50 also experienced quite a bit of wheelspin at the front axle.
As before, three rolling races were done. The first two were from 50 mph in comfort and sport mode while the third race was from 30 mph, favoring the EV a bit more. From 50 mph, in comfort mode, the i4 M50 rocketed ahead, but the M3 Competition stopped the bleeding surprisingly quick. It also overtook the i4 and won the race.
In sport and manual mode, the M3 Competition won more convincingly, but it was the last rolling race that was the most interesting. EVs are incredibly quick from a dig or low-speed roll and the i4 M50 almost teleported itself ahead of the M3 Competition. But while it stayed in the lead for most of the race, the M3 Competition still caught up in the end.
The brake test from 100 mph (161 km/h) bore surprising results. Despite the BMW M3 Competition weighing significantly less, it was the i4 M50 that won the test, managing to stop almost two car lengths shorter than its internal combustion engine counterpart. Matt chalked it up to the combination of incredible brakes combined with regenerative braking.
In the end, both cars showed exactly what they are the best at. To no one’s surprise, the BMW i4 M50 was incredibly strong off the line and from low-speeds, but the M3 Competition is lighter and has all the revs to play with, allowing it to pull hard for much longer. That said, we can’t help, but wonder, what if BMW made a full-fledged M-version of the BMW i4?