By Jonathan Mee
I present you with the BMW i4, perhaps with reluctance in consideration of your eyes. Based on the BMW CLAR platform, the i4 shares the underpinnings of the current Toyota Supra and the already legendary G20 M3 & G82 M4, this trio also hints towards the performance figures of the i4. Within this article, you will become qualified to win debates with your friends on what EV you should buy with around $50,000 in the bank, whilst also preparing you to feel childishly excited when you spot your first i4 this fall – even if the front fascia is a bit polarizing for some.
Bar diffusers replacing exhausts, the styling is the exact same as the G26 4-Series Gran Coupe that went on sale last year. It comes as no surprise then, that the i4 will be built on the same production line as the 3 and 4 Series in Munich. Taking a turn, BMW should seriously consider if they should, or should not, continue to employ the person who decided on the press reveal colours. Also, maybe I should address the elephant in the article, the kidney-shaped ‘grill’ is certainly for those with an acquired taste, and after stating this you won’t be able to ignore it – it reminds me of a walrus. Whilst it may be hard to overlook what you have just seen, you should. The 21-inch aero wheels are a testament to the German automaker’s craftmanship, at least when inspected closely. As it’s not a fresh EV from the ground-up, I believe the styling should be kept as close aspossible to the 4 Series Gran Coupe, not halfway between the looks of an EV and ICE vehicle. In this case, imagine the i4 in your favourite BMW colour and forget the blue accents – I’m sure this thought has swayed you a little more into supporting the i4. Let us know in the replies section below if you prefer the traditional styling over competitors like the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2.
This section is going to berelatively short, as the full interior reveal has yet to take place. Nevertheless, we do know the i4 will don the new iDrive 8 infotainment system, this consists of a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 14.9-inch central touchscreen – with the control option of a rotary dial. This system is also featured in the BMW iX. The ‘My Modes’ function allows you to customize the layout of the largest LCD screen fitted in a BMW. Most notably the ‘Focus’ mode is for, you guessed it, focusing on pushing the 80KwH battery pack to its limits by emphasizing the gauges. A ‘Calm’ mode de-clutters the screen by showing only the speed, allowing you to enter your inner-zen and indulge in BMW refinement.Besides the ‘My Modes’, improvements have been made to the gesture control and the personal voice assistant. The navigation system has taken a machine-learning makeover, as it can predict your journeys when you hop inside, as well as giving more accurate ETAs through factoring in the probability of traffic based on cloud data. The machine learning icing-on-the-cake lies within the climate control, from 440 million driver journeys the i4 will adjust the climate controls depending on your location and time, that sounds like a feature you’d expect on a Rolls Royce! Finally, I should note Hans Zimmer will have created the soundtrack to be played by the i4 in accordance with the selected driving mode, I wonder how that will go down when you tell your friends in the pub…
Performance, Range & Charging
Thus far, BMW has marketed the i4 as a ‘drivers car’, implying the lack of attention to autonomous drivingtech in the vehicle. Implementing BMW’s fifth-generation electric drive train, the electric motor, transmission, and power electronics are integrated within one housing unit – reportedly increasing power density significantly. This claim is supported by the zero to 62mph time in as little as four seconds. Up to 523bhp of power is delivered through a single-speed gearbox and a rear-wheel-drive setup, spelling the conditions for some serious drifting – BMW has certainly demonstrated this through their promotional videos.The peak performance figures will likely belong to the range-topping M Performance model. The range is impressive, on the WLTP cycle it is 590km/366miles, ooh the words ‘Tesla killer’ spring to mind – on the same cycle the Tesla Model 3 Long Range achieves 352 miles. We were left rather empty-handed with the charging times, although we do know it can support charging at up to 150kW, equating to a 0 to 80% charging time figure of roughly 35 minutes – if you stumble across a charger capable.
It seems BMW has created a serious rival to the Tesla Model 3 line-up and the Polestar 2. Albeit, Polestar matches the build quality of BMW and definitely produces a more visually compelling EV in the Polestar 2. Without question, the Tesla Model 3 is the speed demon within this segment, with a 0 to 62mph time of 3.3 seconds for the Performance variant (that said, an ‘M’ version of the i4 is planned). Furthermore, the driving technology is undoubtedly superior within the Tesla Model 3, with billions of autopilot miles fed into its’ machine learning, BMW cannot compete in this realm. I bring up the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 as both of these cars will directly compete with the i4, as it’s slated to release around the $50,000 mark. Relating back to the title, I hold the Tesla Model 3 will continue to squash its competitors in this segment, at least it does on paper. Tesla and Polestar need not worry in my eyes, I believe the i4 serves as a stepping stone for 3, and 4 Series customers to enter the glorious EV world. Set to release this fall, we’d love to learn your opinion of the i4, feel free to let us know your thoughts in the replies section below!