The car was quicker up the hill than a McLaren 12C Spider.
BMW has a long, rich history in motorsport, and that's unlikely to change as the automaker moves toward electrification. A new BMW EV played its part in building an updated reputation for the M Division this past weekend in South Africa where an i4 M50 sedan set a record while competing in the annual Simola Hillclimb event.
The BMW i4 features all-wheel drive courtesy of a dual electric motor setup producing 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque. These propel the hefty EV from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 130 mph. Those figures helped Cars.co.za journalist, Ciro de Siena, run the 1.18-mile course in 49.231 seconds - an EV/hybrid record for the hill climb.
Jump to the 6:23:45 mark in the video below to watch the final run.
Though the BMW set a record, it's worth noting the competition at this particular event wasn't the most challenging. The other two EV drivers in the A8 class (hybrids and EVs) piloted Mk7 VW e-Golfs on the hillclimb with only 134 hp. Despite being piloted by professional racers, both posted times that were at least ten seconds slower up the mountain, meaning they never made it through to the finals. In the Road and Supercar Finals, the i4's time slotted in between a 750-hp Mustang Shelby Terlingua and a McLaren 12C Spider.
BMW says its efforts in electrification are a way to expand performance choices within the overall lineup. "The showing of the BMW i4 M50 and the BMW M4 Competition at Simola this past weekend highlights the incredible breadth of performance within BMW M in both electrified and internal combustion engine guises," said Deena Govender, Head of Communications and External Affairs at BMW Group South Africa.
Hill climb competitions are nothing new, but EV dominance in these events is a relatively recent development. Modified Tesla Model 3s have run Pikes Peak with spectacular and dangerous results, and a Model S Plaid set a record at the Mt. Washington Hill Climb in New Hampshire last year.
The Simola Hillclimb takes place annually in Knysna, South Africa. This year marked the twelfth running of the event. Organizers say attendance was limited to 2,000 people due to pandemic concerns, but that's a significant improvement over last year's edition, which took place without fans.