BMW has finally given us a look at a near-production version of its upcoming i4 all-electric vehicle.
The bronze concept you see above previews the EV that will enter production some time next year. Unlike previous models in BMW’s i sub-brand, the i4 will share its platform with a traditional model; in this case, the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Goodbye, expensive carbon fiber chassis.
While the i4 is nearly ready for production, certain details will likely disappear for road duty. The side-view cameras might not: they’re not yet legal here in North America, but other markets do allow for them. The gigantic diffuser out back will also shrink to dimensions less Le Mans. But overall, the basic cab-rearward proportions will carry over.
Don’t expect that big ol’ grille to change much either. BMW’s sticking to the opened-up waffle-iron look, though the space serves a different purpose for the i4. Closed off, it operates as what BMW is calling an “intelligence panel”, holding numerous sensors. What exactly it houses, and how it protects it all from the ravages of daily road use, is unknown.
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Flanking is a pair of slit-like headlights. They keep the traditional four-eyed BMW look, but do so with only thin LEDs — no glass covers here. There’s also a new take on the classic BMW roundel on the nose, with the usual black ring now clear.
Powering the i4 will be BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive tech. A 80 kWh battery provides the charge, with 530 hp on tap — more than the upcoming M3/M4 is expected to produce. The battery itself weighs in at just over 1200 lb, suggesting the i will tip the scales at quite a bit more than any other 4 variant. Nonetheless, BMW is quoting a 0-60 mph run of 4.0 seconds, and an 80 percent charge in 35 minutes via 150 kW DC fast charger.
BMW is sticking to its WLTP estimate of 373 miles of range. On the tougher EPA scale it’s estimated 270 miles.
The interior is one area we really hope BMW doesn’t fiddle with much. A prominent curved display groups the infotainment and instrument cluster together, all angled towards the driver. Users have three different modes to pick from here — Core, Sport, and Efficient — which changes up everything from the ambient lighting, the instrument display, and infotainment. Core sticks to the the bronze color scheme of the car, while Sport bathes the interior in the obvious hue: red. Efficient is something new, not only showing the i4’s remaining range and charge level, but sharing what the various sensors are registering.
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The dash design uses geometric shapes to hide the ambient lighting and air vents, with warm bronze highlights throughout. Crystal shows up in the iDrive controller as well as the seat memory buttons. Meanwhile the seats use microfibre and naturally-tanned leather. It looks pretty stunning altogether, though we wouldn’t say no to a few redundant physical buttons — say, for the climate controls. Still, it reminds us more of a high-end fashion store than a car interior.
BMW is investing 200 million euros into its Plant Munich to prepare for the i4. Production will begin in 2021.