The production i4 will be BMW's first-ever premium electric sedan.
Back in 2018, BMW previewed its new flagship electric SUV with the polarizing Vision iNext, which will form part of company's EV onslaught when it enters production next year. Now, the Bavarian automaker is ready to give us a preview of its future Tesla Model 3 fighter following numerous teasers and spy shots. Say hello to the BMW Concept i4, a sleek, fully electric premium sedan previewing the production BMW i4.
With a long wheelbase, fastback roofline and short overhangs combined with a four-door body style, the BMW Concept i4 blends a sporty design with the spaciousness and practicality of a four-door Gran Coupe. This is a very sleek-looking sedan boasting crisp lines and elegant proportions, while the Frozen Light Copper exterior finish has carried over from the BMW Vision iNext. Unfortunately, this isn't the only design element the Concept i4 has inherited from the iNext.
A giant closed-off kidney grille dominates the front end, stretching almost the entire height of the fascia. Since there's no combustion engine that requires cooling, the grille serves as an "intelligence panel" housing various sensors, which is flanked by sharp, slender LED headlights. Slim L-shaped taillights can also be found at the back, which are positioned above aerodynamic-enhancing lips that incorporate vertical air outlets. A striking rear apron further enhances the car's aerodynamic efficiency, while blue diffuser elements substitute traditional exhaust outlets.
Inside, the driver-focused interior features a curved display integrating the steering wheel, infotainment system, and gauge cluster, previewing the display that will feature in the production versions of the BMW iNext and BMW i4. Almost all operating functions are integrated into the curved display including the climate controls to reduce the number of haptic controls to create an uncluttered cabin. Accent strips in Gold Bronze that blend into chrome also lend the interior a premium look.
The central control panel replaces a traditional gear lever with a toggle-type shifter, while elements such as the iDrive Controller and seat memory buttons in the doors are finished in crystal glass. In the back, there's a generous amount of headroom and legroom for rear-seat passengers that exceed expectations of a Gran Coupe.
The Concept i4's curved display also previews BMW's next-generation operating system. Three different modes provide different user experiences that affect the display and graphics as well as the interior ambient lighting in the dashboard, doors and below the display. "Core" mode displays a familiar four-widget layout, with the graphics replicating the pattern above the air vents and Gold Bronze accent color. In the area where the central display used to be positioned, a map and widgets now line up alongside each other.
In "Sport" mode, the widgets come closer together to create a focused view. Sideways movements behind the zones are used to show how tight the next corner is. "Efficient" mode features an "Assisted Driving View," which shows the driver what the car's sensors are detecting. In the BMW Concept i4, "key information for efficient driving" is incorporated, while the right-hand area of the display shows additional information such as the charge level and range.
While most electric cars are predominately silent, a unique sound has been developed for the BMW Concept i4 by renowned composer Hans Zimmer together with BMW Sound Designer Renzo Vitale. BMW says the Concept i4's sound provides a sense of lightness and transparency" and "gives the driver the feeling that there are no limits of expression." Depending on the selected mode, the sound will change accordingly. For example, it will become more intense in "Sport" mode.
Powering the BMW Concept i4 is an electric motor generating 530 hp, which is comparable to a current BMW V8 combustion engine. The 80-kWh battery only weighs around 1,212 pounds and provides a range of up to 373 miles based on the WLTP cycle. Production of the BMW i4 will begin in 2021 at BMW main plant in Munich.
Around 90 percent of the existing production equipment in the body shop can be adapted to manufacture the i4, but the remaining ten percent will need to be built specifically for the electric Gran Coupe. Originally, the BMW Concept i4 was going to make its public debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, but a last-minute cancelation due to the coronavirus has halted those plans.