The BMW i4 has finally made its global debut, and it is the first fully electric vehicle in its class. The four-door gran coupe will be available in two variants at launch, those being the eDrive40 and M50. The latter is the first fully electric car by BMW M, which means it’s only a matter of time before we see other electric models, including the i4 M, get added to the portfolio.
Now, let’s go through some numbers. The i4 measures 4,785 mm long, 1,852 mm wide, 1,448 mm tall and has a rather lengthy wheelbase of 2,856 mm. It has 26 mm wider front tracks compared to the G20 3 Series, and the rear tracks are also wider by 13 mm. Thanks to the placement of the 83.9 kWh battery pack, the centre of gravity on the i4 is a staggering 53 mm lower compared to the 3er.
The eDrive40 variant you see here is a rear-wheel drive model, so power comes from a single electric motor that’s fitted to the rear axle. This is still based on BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, employing electronically excited synchronous motors (not magnetic, thus free of rare earth materials) that are integrated together with other power electronics and a single-speed transmission.
The eDrive40 gets a 250 kW power unit, which makes 340 PS and 430 Nm of torque. It will do the century sprint in 5.7 seconds before maxing out at an electronically-governed top speed of 190 km/h. Since the eDrive40 has just one electric motor, the weight distribution is 45.1:54.9.
In terms of range, the 83.9 kWh battery (covered with an eight-year or 160,000 km warranty) is capable of providing up to 590 km of range (WLTP cycle). It supports up to 200 kW DC fast-charging (CCS Combo 2 connection), so a 10-minute charge time provides up to 164 km of range. The i4 ships with an 11 kW integrated AC charger (Type 2 connection) – charging at this rate will juice up the battery from 0% to 100% in under 8.5 hours. The electric motor is capable of handling up to 195 kW of regenerative braking.
Keeping battery temperature in check is an integrated heating and cooling system. It takes into account various factors such as ambient temperature and mid-journey fast-charging sessions to precondition the temperature of the battery pack. It does this automatically via high efficiency pumps, and BMW says this can increase range efficiency by up to 31% when driving in urban traffic.
Standard for the i4 is the lift-related damping system, which BMW says provides linear damping qualities and prevents excessive pitching when driving over large bumps. A self-levelling rear air suspension system is standard for both variants, though the adaptive M suspension is a cost option for the eDrive40 (standard on the M50).
Design-wise, the i4 doesn’t veer too far off from the G22 4 Series counterpart. It’s slightly more voluminous due to the two extra rear doors, but otherwise the i4 and 4 Series are very similar visually. There’s the controversial full-height kidney grilles, slim vertical Air Curtain inlets at the corners of the front bumper, and slim full LED headlights as standard. Customers can opt for the adaptive LED lights with BMW Laserlight and BMW Selective Beam, too.
Along the side, the i4 features the usual Gran Coupé sweeping roofline and six-window glasshouse, as well as the G22’s reinterpreted C-pillar Hoffmeister kink. Unique to it are the Air Breather vents, hockey stick side graphic, and flush door handles.
At the back, you’ll see the inverted L-shaped tail lights that are carried over from the 4 Series, but it gets a unique rear bumper with an integrated diffuser. Wheel sizes range from 17 inches to 20 inches, and both debutants get wider rear tyres as standard. Larger M Sport brakes with 374 mm rotors can be had, too. Exterior paint options include two solid colours, seven metallic shades and one Frozen Matte option. Special colours from the BMW Individual palette can also be specified.
The cabin, as you would have already seen from the leaks yesterday, is largely similar to the regular 4 Series. However, there is a key difference – the 12.3-inch instrument display and 14.9-inch infotainment screen are fitted together in a single, curved unit, and the glass display is anti-reflective. The i4 also ships with BMW Operating System 8 as standard. Other unique i4 elements are blue-ringed logo on the steering wheel, and blue accented gearstick and push-start button.
Standard equipment here include the BMW Live Cockpit Professional, a three-zone automatic climate control system with nanofiltration, sport leather steering wheel, acoustic windscreen glass, LED ambient lighting, and a 100-watt six speaker sound system. This of course can be upgraded to a 205-watt 10-speaker system, or the top 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a seven-channel amplifier and 464 watts of output.
For M Sport and M Performance models, the cabin comes with gloss black or aluminium rhombicle anthracite inlays, though customers can specify other materials such as wood through BMW Individual. Sport seats are standard, wrapped in a combination of cloth and Sensatec leather. This can be upgraded to perforated Sensatec or Vernasca leather upholstery, as well as BMW Individual Merino leather that are available in varying colours. Boot space is 470 litres, and expands to 1,290 litres with the rear bench folded.
Since it’s a fully electric car, the i4 comes with an acoustic pedestrian protection system, which is basically an artificially generated sound that’s produced by exterior speakers. The sound is active when driving up to 21 km/h in Europe, or 31 km/h in the US. A special interior audio signature has also been developed in close collaboration with Hans Zimmer, the intensity of which increases in Sport mode.
Lastly, the i4 ships with up to 40 driver assistance systems, enabling Level 2 semi autonomous driving. This includes Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go function, Speed Limit Assist, Front-Collision Warning with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Rear-Collision Prevention, and Lane Departure Warning. The Driving Assistant Professional package adds Steering and Lane Control Assistant, operable at up to 180 km/h.
Other driving aids include Emergency Lane Assistant, Evasion Assistant, Road Priority Warning, Wrong-way Warning, as well as Parking Assistant, 360-degree camera and a head-up display. Production of the i4 takes place at the same Munich facility that makes combustion-engined BMW models, with electricity generated by hydroelectric power stations.
When comparing total cost of maintenance, BMW says the i4 is about 30% cheaper to maintain than a comparable model with a combustion engine. This is after taking into account expenses on motor vehicle tax, insurance, maintenance and wear parts. There are no oil changes for the i4 and no exhaust system to service either, plus the brakes are subject to less strain because the motors help with deceleration. So, what do you think of the new i4?
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