It was a big day at BMW as two new all-electric vehicles were unveiled. We reported on the iX SUV, of course, and the other model was the i4 sedan, in essence the electric version of the 4 Series car.
Unsurprisingly, both models use the same electric drivetrain, but obviously, the driving experience will be different with the 4 Series Gran Coupe format.
Like the iX SUV, the i4 will hit the market in the first quarter of 2022. Two versions of the model will be offered: the i4 eDrive40 and the i4 M50. The first will offer a rear-wheel drive configuration and deliver an output of 335 horsepower as well as a range of 475 km (note however, the data to come for our market could be different, perhaps substantially so).
With the M50 model, the game is upped by quite a bit: power output is 536 hp and maximum torque is 586 lb-ft; it’s a veritable an orgy of power that will be relayed to the wheels via the work of an intelligent all-wheel-drive system. The range is announced at 385 km.
As with the iX, the design of the model maximizes the use of more durable materials, but there was also a focus on reducing the weight of the structure as much as possible. The electric architecture is the fifth-generation one produced by BMW. It is most notable for being being very concentrated, with the electric motor, electronics and transmission fit tightly in a compact box. As for the high-voltage battery (net capacity of 81.5 kWh), it’s only 109 mm high and is mounted in the floor of the car, which lowers the centre of gravity and improves the i4's agility.
Specifically, the i4's centre of gravity is 33 mm (BMW i4 M50) or 53 mm (BMW i4 eDrive40) lower than on a 3 Series sedan.
Behind the wheel: what to expect
The driving experience was also a top priority in conceiving this model, according to BMW. The chassis is equipped with a host of technologies like adaptive dampers, rear air suspension, electromechanical steering, an integrated braking system, a system that limits wheel spin to better manage the instantaneous power of the electric motors.
The BMW i4M50 is also equipped with a fully electric all-wheel drive system, an adaptive suspension with individually configured springs and dampers, specially designed anti-roll bars and additional reinforcement of the shock tower at the front, as well as variable sports steering, M Sport brakes and alloy wheels (up to 20 inches in diameter).
BMW has a lot at stake with the i4, if only because a company that has made driving pleasure its trademark will be expected to deliver a compelling experience when going electric.
Inside, i4 owners will discover a very different environment from the ‘trad’ 4 Series car. BMW breaks the mold here by offering a different design, marked in particular by a massive, curved screen placed before the driver. Like what we've seen elsewhere, the screen has a 12.3-inch section in front of the driver. This is where we'll find most of the information related to driving and we can guess that the personalization possibilities will be near-endless.
Then, in the centre sits a 14.9-inch section for the multimedia system controls. Sadly, we’re told that several functions are being transferred to the touchscreen. If the layout is streamlined and has fewer buttons, usability may take a hit. We'll see.
As far as connectivity is concerned, expect a lot of it, thanks to the new (eighth) generation iDrive system. Online updates, a personal assistant you can "chat" with more naturally, as well as a feature specific to electric vehicles are included. That takes the form of a boundary on the navigation screen that tells you how far you can go with your remaining range. Of course, the system will be able to inform you of places to charge up, among other things.
The charging capabilities are similar to those of the iX. BMW says it takes 8 hours to fill up at home, while on a Level 3 charging station, it will be possible to regain 160 km in 10 minutes, or to increase the capacity from 10 to 80 percent in 31 minutes.
For the rest, we’ll learn much more when we finally have occasion to get behind the wheel, including the finer details but also the general driving experience offered by this performance EV.
For now, we still await Canadian price for the BMW i4. We'll update this news when it's available.