BMW aims to offer five dedicated all-electric models in its i range by the end of 2021, and the new i4 will be one of the most significant. It’s essentially an electric-powered 4 Series Gran Coupé, powered by BMW’s new and compact modular electric motor and boasting an impressive 526bhp.
The i4 resembles a taller version of the current 4 Series Gran Coupe, the additional height necessitated by the need to accommodate a powerful underfloor battery. Though we only have images of camouflaged test prototypes, the short front overhang, long tapering bonnet, and coupé-like profile will be familiar to all devotees of the current 3 Series and 4 Series ranges. Many of the i4’s design features will be shared with the upcoming next-generation 4 Series, but with the dynamic, stretched lines and optimised aerodynamics of BMW’s new i-model range.
BMW has pledged to remain true to its ‘driving pleasure’ mantra with its new i models, and the instant, exhilarating torque of electric power should make that easy to achieve. The compact module that contains motor, transmission and control electronics will develop 526 bhp – around the same as one of the company’s current V8 petrol engines. Acceleration from 0-62mph will be around four seconds, with a top speed of 124mph. The power is provided by an 80kW/h battery weighing 550kg mounted in the floor for a low centre of gravity; range will be up to 373 miles on the WLTP test cycle.
No details have been released yet of the in-car technology to be offered in the new i4 but it will include an evolved version of the ‘Hey BMW’ intelligent voice control, Wi-Fi hotspot, Connected Navigation and Live Cockpit Professional.
The electrification of the BMW range will facilitate the introduction of advanced driver assistance systems that use camera and radar technologies as well as ‘swarm intelligence’ to keep the driver and occupants safe on the road.
Verdict: though we’re still some way off the production i4 appearing in our showrooms, the prospect is an exciting one. Up to now BMW’s electric models have had a niche appeal, whether it’s the quirky city-car i3 or the thrilling hybrid i8. But with the i4 and the forthcoming iX3 crossover, BMW will be offering two mainstream models that compete with petrol and diesel for performance, cost less to ‘fuel’ and produce no emissions whatsoever.