Late last week I found myself in the beautiful and sunny State of California for some much needed R&R. But for some reason, I just can’t escape cars. So to my surprise I “ran” into BMW who was testing a very special prototype. Covered in the typical BMW camo, this particular prototype was a quiet one, yet it had the looks and shape of a sleek sedan. It turns out that I was looking at the upcoming BMW i4 (Gran Coupe) electric vehicle which will be unveiled on June 1st, 2021.
Granted, I couldn’t pass on this opportunity so I spent some time with BMW reps and engineers talking about the new i4. There are still plenty of tech specs that are under embargo until launch date, including a ride with the car, but some things could be revealed today.
Two Models To Start With
On June 1st, we can report that BMW will reveal two variants of the i4 electric car. There will be different power outputs, yet the same battery pack. After pulling some teeth, we learned from the development engineer that the net battery capacity is somewhere around 80 kWh. That’s certainly more than the i3 (rated at 42.2 kWh) and the iX3 (74 kWh). Final figures on the electric range will be soon finalized and revealed, but we do expect around 300 miles for one of the two models.
The power output is still somewhat of a secret – even though we reported on it before – but we learned that the 500+ horsepower figure is fairly accurate. BMW was also quite secretive about the rear-wheel drive versus all-wheel drive models, but we believe that the top model – which could bear the i4 M50 badge – could have a dual-motor configuration. More on those specs on June 1st.
Performance Tires And Brakes, Large Wheels
At a first glance, this BMW i4 prototype was equipped like it was ready to tackle the most challenging tracks in the world. It sits on large 20-inch tires with some good looking wheels hiding a performance brake system behind them. The wheels were wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero performance tires which certainly help with cornering and grip. Couldn’t get the front tire size, but the rear one was massive – 285/30. And that was perfect size to match the wide hips of the i4. More on that below.
Brake Regeneration On Steroids
Brake-regen is one area where we will spend a lot of time when the i4 is finally unveiled. All I can share for now is that it is far more advanced than the one in the i3 or MINI Cooper SE (as expected) and likely a bit different than what you see on the iX3. It’s certainly an engineering feat that the BMW development team is proud of.
iDrive 8 Standard
This isn’t much of a secret – the new iX and i4 will be the first models to feature the new iDrive 8. It is by far the most advanced infotainment system ever designed in Munich and in some areas, it is quite tailored to electric vehicles. The interior of the car was fully masked up, but we can reveal that you will see the largest LCD screens ever in a BMW. Stay tuned for our Youtube demo since it will be absolutely worth it!
The exterior design of the new i4 is not a secret anymore. BMW has already revealed the car several times before, and in several design packages. It is based on the upcoming BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe which, arguably, could become the best looking BMW today. The i4 features the typical four-door coupe design, with a sleek roofline and a raised up, yet attractive read-end with a liftback design. It is quite wide from the back also and, based on my eye-measurement – it sits closer to the ground than a 3 Series sedan. Hopefully that turns out to be true because the stance is great from any angle.
The elephant in the room – the large kidney grille from the 4 Series is there. But it features a different inner design, specific to electric cars. As we’ve seen in recent photos, it fits the character of the car a bit more than a “regular” 4 Series. It has that high-tech look that you’d expect from an EV. Just like the 4 Series or M3/M4: you either love it or hate it, but it will certainly make you talk about it.
In the end, BMW says that their customers should experience a smooth transition from a gasoline-powered 4 Series to the electric version. And that idea is heavily embedded in both the interior and exterior design of the i4.
That’s all for now from the Californian beaches and before I hop back onto the surfboard, I’ll see you on June 1st. You won’t wanna miss that coverage!