BMW i4: Will It Take ON Tesla?


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Can you believe it? It's been six years since the BMW i8 arrived, seven years since the i3 launched and now in 2020 BMW is ready to expand its eye portfolio with this the concept I4

I say concept because this is pretty much 85% the production car that you're going to be able to buy from next year, gone is the really radical styling from the i3 and the i8 replaced it instead with a relatively conventional 4 Series Gran Coupe body.

BMW I is going mainstream. 

Let's get straight to the numbers because the i-4 features BMWs fifth generation E-drive technology, what that means is an electric motor single speed gearbox and power electronics, all housed in a single casing.

It's rear-wheel drive and a 550 kilogram 80 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is spread under the floor, the result is an M4 whirring 523 brake horsepower, nought to 60 2 in 4 seconds and a WL TP range of 373 miles.

Charging capacity is up to 150 kilowatts, not as fast as a Tesla Model S or the Porsche tycan but fast enough for naught to 80% in around 35 minutes. 

Let's dissect this design a little bit then and we'll start at the front, where else with the grill, if I can call it that. Actually it has no air intake properties because this is an electric car doesn't need the cooling what it does is house a variety of sensors.

BMW calls it an intelligence panel, I say it's not quite as scary as it was on the 4 Series Coupe concept, but still reminds me a bit of a pantomime Dame. Make of that what you will.

You'll also notice this blue highlight line that runs around the grille, that is used on the exterior of the car to highlight the points that make it that denote it is an electric car.

So on the blanked out grille along the side sills suggesting the skateboard battery that's under the floor there and on the diffuser at the back where you'd normally have exhaust pipes.

Moving on around the side, yes 21 inch Aero wheels. I think this is gonna be a feature we're gonna see a lot more of on electric cars, manufacturers making a design point of airrow wheels because if you can save precious drag in this area, traditionally the most turbulent area on the car,well then you can increase your range by a few precious miles.

Carrying on and will fly past this area because that is where the car looks most conventional and come round the back. jJust two more things I want to show you here the first is these super thin l-shaped taillights which look very crisp and very nice. 

And the second is this the bads the BMW badge it's an all new BMW logo get up close and you'll see it's much more 2d than it was before.

And here it's got a transparent see-through application so you can see the paint color underneath, that's because the I brand that's all about being friendly and airy and light and approachable.

This is the first time you've seen the logo and then it's going to be rolled out across other models.

So overall the I four different enough two petrol and diesel four series to give you that smug sense of satisfaction, not different enough to make you stand out like a sore thumb.

Where BMW has really gone to town though is what the sounds this car makes. Teaming up with legendary film composer Hans Zimmer it's created various sound worlds for the eye for that include increasingly sporty driving noises, as you move through the sport efficient and core driving modes and various bongs and jingles when you open the door and push the buttons, and no it won't play the theme tune to gladiator when you start it up.

If the exterior of the i-4 is the I brand showing it's more restrained side, well in here is letting its hair down a bit. Everything is dominated by this massive screen in front of you and you'll see the way it just curves away to the center of the car that so it's pointed orientated towards the driver.

The i-4 is the driver's electric BMW don't forget the eye next SUV that comes next year that's the one that's crammed with autonomous tech. So what we got in front of me the instrument display over here this is the touchscreen and believe me everything is within the touchscreen.

You've got a crystal iDrive controller down here but everything including the climate control is up here on the screen, and as we've seen in our B's that's not necessarily a good thing.

There's no bezel around the edge of the screen, barely any bezel and there's definitely no shroud that's because it's covered in a non reflective glass so you simply don't need one.

And the rest of the interior, well, it's certainly pared back. The vents here are pretty much invisible instead of a normal BMW gear leaver you've just got this subtly integrated toggle down here and these super squishy soft rounded seats with barely any stitching on display, well, that's because this car is modern and modern means minimalist.

You might imagine with this coupe a ish roofline and a battery under your feet that the back seats would be cramped, but they're not. This is a genuinely usable car although we suspect that notchback boot won't be massive. The lobbying for I-4 touring starts here.

You get this sense with this car that it's the product of everything BMW learned and the financially challenging but technically brilliant I 3 + i8 experiment, that if you want to make money from electric cars well you need to give them a more usable range and you need to make them more economically in existing factories.

Which is why this will be built in Munich alongside the 3-series and for series, only deviating from the production line to have its batteries and motors installed.

So BMWs assault on the evey mass market starts now. This year we're going to get the mini-e, we're going to get the IX-3 later and then next year we're gonna have the i4.

This is no longer just a toe in the water this is BMW pulling on its budgie smugglers and diving right in you.

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