If you think BMW hasn’t been serious about electric cars, you haven’t been paying attention. After a long gestation, here’s the first mainstream BMW EV – the BMW i4 Concept.
It’s pretty obvious looking at the i4, this about more than EVs. The giant new grille we’re going to see on the production 4 series, the Gran Coupe bodyshell we will also see in production on the 4 Series.
It also showcases a new cabin concept that includes the firm’s new curved display, which combines the dashboard and iDrive screens into one, long, gently curving screen.
Yes, it has a massive grille but – and this is going to be unpopular – I don’t hate it. It kind of works.
What is the BMW i4 Concept?
After the Geneva press release after-party, er, Geneva Motor Show was cancelled, BMW has chosen to drop the i4 online. This is the first mainstream BMW electric vehicle, a car that sits comfortably among its current ICE and PHEV ranges. A BMW EV that isn’t super-conscious of being an EV.
Yes, it’s very self-consciously BMW, but we’ve already covered that.
The main fun is, obviously, in the propulsion. BMW claims some serious numbers – 600km range (WLTP) for starters. The WLTP cycle aims to put consumption figures into the realm of reality and, as we’ve seen on the Hyundai Kona Electric, is very close to what you might get yourself.
To crack 0-100km/h in four seconds with its 550kg of batteries on board, you’ll need every one of the i4’s 395kW. BMW also says the i4 will keep going on to 200km/h.
The battery is an 80kWh unit and you can probably expect the usual 80 percent charge in about 45 minutes if you have the beefy chargers you can find here and there in Europe.
Look and feel
The i4’s silhouette is instantly familiar – the gorgeous 4 Series Gran Coupe looks like it’s going to stay that way. Well, from the side anyway. The rear is an evolution of the G30 3 Series lights and a very aero-centric backside with a silly concept diffuser. Expect the production car to be less overdone.
Up front, you can see that new grille. Get used to it, BMW is determined to go double Edsel on us, so just go with it. Again, the lights are an evolution of the 3er, with plenty of aero stuff, but this end is a lot closer to reality than the stern. The wheels are insanely large and out of proportion, so hopefully they don’t make the cut.
Look past the rather fetching satin gold trim and the heavily-dished steering wheel (I want that in production), this is the new direction for BMW cabins. While not a massive change, the new double-width screen, imaginatively-titled BMW Curved Display, looks terrific. The curve angles gently toward the driver and looks lovely. Whether those delicate legs survive to production I don’t know, but hey, we can dream.
There are some adventurous materials, but not as much fun as the i3’s, at least not from what we can see in the photos.
BMW makes a bit of a deal about the rear seats and there is a lot of space back there. The EV platform does seem quite roomy, so you can frighten your friends in comfort.
How much and when?
BMW says that the car will go into production in 2021. i4s will run through BMW’s main plant in Munich. The company says that 90 percent of the current production equipment can be put to work on series production of the i4, with just new tooling required for the rear section.
A new set of machinery for battery installation will be bumped into the factory hall over a period of six weeks. I imagine that will happen during the quiet summer period, but that’s a wild guess.
How much? No idea, but I’m hoping it’s reasonable. The i3 isn’t (but I’d still buy it with my own money) but an electric BMW with all that power and big claims about the sporting nature of the car, it’s a tantalising prospect.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.