BMW’s upcoming i4 electric sedan has again been shown in concept form, this time as a thinly veiled production preview.
The all-new, four-door model will be an integral part of an extended range of BMW i EVs that are due to launch by 2025. With a plan to go on sale in the UK in mid-2021 as a direct rival to the Tesla Model 3, the i4 claims to make as much as 530hp and have a range of up to 600km.
The i4 is based on the second-generation 4 Series Gran Coupé, which is set to be revealed later this year. Like its combustion-engined sibling, it takes a three-box silhouette with a distinctive cab-rearward profile. This is to help it appeal to traditional BMW customers, moving away from the controversially styled i3 hatchback of 2013.
Drawing inspiration from the forthcoming iNext SUV, the i4 has clean and taut surfaces aimed at giving it class-leading aerodynamic efficiency.
Among the key design elements on the third model to date from the i sub-brand is a bold kidney grille, similar in size and shape to that of last year’s Concept 4. The i4 also shares that car’s thin headlight treatment, heavily curved roofline, high-set notchback rear end and OLED tail-lights.
Illuminated blue highlights on the grille, down the flanks and in the rear diffuser mark the i4 out as an EV. These are expected to be retained when production of the i4 begins in Munich, Germany, during the third quarter of 2021.
Other new design developments incorporated include flush door handles and aerodynamically optimised wheels. The Concept i4 also sports BMW’s new logo, which takes a two-dimensional design in order to make it more suited to digital marketing.
Inside, the Concept i4 has a clean and simplistic dashboard that supports a single curved HD display housing the instruments and infotainment system. It also features the latest iteration of BMW’s iDrive controller, grouped together with touch-sensitive controls on a wide centre console that spans the length of the cabin.
Previewing the powerplant that is set to be used in the production-spec i4, the Concept i4 features a BMW developed-and-produced electric motor that makes up to 530hp – 70hp more than the 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine of the M4 CS. Mounted beneath the long bonnet up front, it provides drive to all four wheels via an as-yet-unspecified gearbox. BMW hints at a 0-100kph time of 4sec and a top speed in excess of 200kph.
Underpinning the i4 is a modified version of BMW’s CLAR platform, which has been given a new rear floorpan in order to house an 80kWh lithium ion battery pack. Described as “extremely slim and optimised for energy density,” this is claimed to weigh around 550kg.
BMW's quoted 600km range for the i4 is on the WLTP cycle. This matches the range achieved by Tesla with the Model 3 Long Range, which uses a 75kWh lithium-ion battery. Similar to the Tesla, the i4 is also expected to be offered as a rear-wheel drive with a smaller-capacity battery.
In a move set to be reflected by the production version of the i4, the Concept i4 offers three driving modes: Core, Sport and Efficient. These alter the graphic display and ambient interior lighting as well as the drivetrain properties. The acoustics of the car are also affected, which have been developed by BMW in co-operation with renowned composer Hans Zimmer.
In India, the German carmaker recently launched a new entry-level 5 Series variant and is gearing up to launch the X1 facelift in March and the 2 Series Gran Coupe in August.