The BMW i4 fully electric sedan has finally be unveiled with key information of its performance and equipment levels. Launched alongside the regular i4 model is the first fully-electric model from BMW M, dubbed the BMW i4 M50.

The BMW i4 takes the body style of the BMW Gran Coupe, now called G26. It is about 3 inches longer and an inch wider than the G20 BMW 3 Series sedan. Being placed under the 4 Series line, it shares the front and rear design of sportier coupe rather than the traditional sedan.

As such, the front bears the instantly-recognisable large, vertically prominent BMW kidney grille now with a unique graduating ‘nugget bar’ insert. The i4 M50 is styled with more black inserts at both bumpers, closely resembling the 4 Series M Sport aerodynamics kit, as opposed to BMW i Blue on the eDrive40 variant.

The side of the Gran Coupe meanwhile features a continuous trim from the fender-fitted air breather to the edge of rear doors, similar to the “hockey stick” found on the G12 BMW 7 Series. Optimised aerodynamics around the new BMW i4 deliver an incredibly low Cd value of 0.24.

The taillamps are the same units found on the BMW 4 Series coupe. Opening the single-piece windscreen-bootlid tailgate reveals a large 470-litre boot space.

So, what is under the hood of the first fully-electric BMW M car? It consists of a dual-motor layout, with the front axle powered by a 190 kW/258 hp electric motor and the rear axle has a larger 230 kW/313 hp motor. BMW says the combined system output of the i4 M50 is 400 kW or 544 hp and 795 Nm of torque, but is only available for 10 seconds under Sport Boost function.

Under the normal driving mode, the power outputs of the fifth-generation eDrive units are 350 kW/ 476 hp and 730 Nm, which are just 68 hp and 65 Nm lower than Sport Boost mode. Even with variable all-wheel drive, the BMW i4 M50 strangely omits the xDrive moniker.

The large lithium-ion battery under the chassis has a net energy content of 80.7 kWh, with the standardised-WLTP driving range just a touch over 500 km. BMW says the highly efficient electric motors promote excellent driving range and thus negate the need to fit large batteries.

BMW has paid special attention to the battery pack, making it slimmer than the usual at just 110 mm in height. The vehicle’s centre of gravity is 53 mm lower than in the G20 BMW 3 Series sedan and the battery is also manufactured using cobalt and lithium from controlled, transparent and sustainable sources.

The BMW i4 M50 can complete the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in just 3.9 seconds, similar to the G82 BMW M3 Competition sedan. Top speed however is limited to 225 km/h. This is perhaps due to the single-speed transmission, unlike the two-speed setup in the Porsche Taycan.

Meanwhile, the more accessible i4 eDrive40 variant has only a rear-mounted electric motor with peak outputs of 340 hp and 430 Nm of torque. Sharing the same 80.7 kWh battery as the M50, the lighter and less power-consuming drivetrain of the eDrive40 has an 80-km better range of 590 km.

The eDrive40 can complete the benchmark century dash in 5.7 seconds (just 0.1s quicker than the BMW 330i), and perhaps this will be one of the slower BMWs, with a top speed of “only” 190 km/h. The performance figures of the BMW i4 eDrive40 is very similar to the Tesla Model 3 with the BMW having a better range.

Charging times deviate according to the technology available. With a 11 kW wallbox (16 A/380 V), the new BMW i4 models require almost 8.5 hours to fully charge. Recharging at a public high-performance charger (200 kW) will just require 31 minutes to top up the charge levels from 10% to 80%.  

A quick charge of 10 minutes meanwhile will add 140 km of range to the BMW i4 M50 and 24 km more for the eDrive40 model.

Handling duties are further enhanced by a new self-levelling air suspension fitted to the rear axle. The near-actuator wheel slip controller or ARB that debuted in the fully-electric BMW i3s is also featured in the BMW i4, now updated for use in the i4 M50’s all-wheel drive configuration.

The higher performance BMW i4 M50 also comes standard with adaptive M Suspension, variable sport steering system and thanks to the dual-motor layout, the weight distribution now moves to 48:52, front-to-rear.

Inside, the familiar BMW 3 and 4 Series dashboard now houses a massive curved display, combining the driver’s instrument display and central display into one continuous unit. Aptly called the BMW Curved Display and first featured in the BMW iX, the glass surface actually continues to house two displays- a 12.3-inch for the driver and a 14.9-inch for the control display.

The BMW Curved Display also premieres the company’s latest user-interface called the BMW Operating System 8. Voice control via the Intelligent Personal Assistant has been heavily revised in this latest generation, which includes data processing through artificial intelligence.

The new interior and display screen in the new BMW i4 also remove a lot of physical buttons, with the eight-button shortcut keys gone, as well as physical buttons to control the air-conditioning. With no gears to shift, the large BMW M steering wheel also loses the large shift paddles. Other models such as the Honda City RS e:Hev and Audi e-tron actually kept the paddles to control the regenerative braking power. Instead, the BMW i4 comes with a Toyota Hybrid-styled B-mode selectable via the blue-accented shift lever, replacing the M/S-mode.

A BMW M car must sound sporty and emotional, thus the BMW i4 M50 will come with a different interior sound compared to the regular i4 eDrive40. Academy Award-winner Hans Zimmer worked with BMW to create various emotional sounds to fill the cabin now that the engine is gone.

Owners can download new sounds via the BMW IconicSounds Electric at a later stage, which feature the work of the Academy Award winner.

Air quality inside the new BMW i4 is handled by a new nanofiber filter, where nano-fleece and activated carbon layers are used to keep ultrafine dust particles and allergens out of the cabin.

Both the BMW i4 eDrive40 and i4 M50 will be manufactured in BMW Plant Munich through a new flexible and integrated production process. Deliveries to key markets such as the US begins in November 2021, with prices starting from USD55,400 (similar to a M340i) for the i4 eDrive40 and USD65,900 (just USD4k lower than a basic M3 sedan 6-MT) for the i4 M50 model.

The BMW i4 is the fourth model to join the fully-electric BMW i family. While the iX3 is based on the BMW X3, there is no news if BMW will do the reverse and offer a combustion engine-only BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe later.


GALLERY

BMW i4 M50

BMW i4 eDrive40