BMW’s first fully-electric sedan is the i4

Go back to Page 1: What is the i4, what versions will be sold, and when is it coming to Singapore?

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Platform tuning, Driving performance

BMW i4 M50

As the charts show, in a straight line the i4 eDrive40i has comparable performance to a BMW 330i, while the i4 M50 can match an M4.

But BMW obviously wasn’t content to leave it at that: “Every electric car can accelerate fast in a straight line, but for BMW, that’s not good enough,” said Mr Ferrufino.  “To have the driving dynamics of a real BMW, you need more – and it was a big target for us to increase rigidity of the body, improve torsion and stiffness, and so on.”

Like many BEVs, the i4 is heavy when compared to a internal combustion engine (ICE) model, weighing just over 2.1-tonnes. To offset the weight of the 550kg battery some, aluminium is used in the fenders, bonnet, and some reinforcement/suspension components. 

Like many BEVs, the i4 makes the skateboard layout help with handling by lowering the centre of gravity

The eDrive40 model looks promising with traditional BMW rear-wheel drive dynamics and not an overwhelming amount of power – 340hp, just 40hp shy of the M340i. While the car isn’t much lower than a 3 Series overall, BMW says the car’s centre of gravity is 53mm lower in comparison, thanks to the battery. 

“While (the i4 has) a disadvantage in weight, we turned (the battery pack/low centre of gravity) into an advantage for driving dynamics to balance the axle load and centre of gravity. Combined with a rigid body, this helped us meet the driving dynamics targets,” said Mr Ferrufino.

That itself should help the car’s stability and handling, but BMW has taken steps to ensure the i4 eDrive40 lives up to its ‘4’ moniker, with a wider track than the 3 Series (by 26mm in the front, and 12mm in the rear, although the two i4s are similar in track layout). The suspension setup is similar to the 3 Series and 4 Series, with the same lift-dependent dampers. M Adaptive Suspension and M Sports Steering will be available as an option. Another option for both i4 models is air suspension for the rear axle, which helps manage weight and improve aerodynamics. 

The i4 M50 has additional stiffening in the body and M-tuned suspension

The M50 model has two motors, with the front motor giving 258hp and the rear motor 313hp, with the motors working together for electric ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive. The combined output is an eye-raising 544hp and 795Nm of torque in regular mode. This is in Sport Boost mode which lasts ‘over ten seconds’, upon which the car reverts to the normal output of 476hp/730Nm.

The first BMW i and M collaboration will feature M-tuned brakes, suspension, aerodynamics/styling, and an interior with M-ified touches. Like other intermediate M models, such as the X3 M40i, the M50 has bracing and reinforcements to stiffen the body, though both the M50 and eDrive40 have identical overall dimensions (no wider track nor lowered suspension). There’s also an additional ‘BMW Iconic Sounds’ package for both cars designed with Hans Zimmer, although the M sounds will be more aggro. 

Design, dimensions, interior and onboard tech

BMW i4 eDrive40BMW 330i 
Length x Width x Height (mm)4782 x 1852 x 1448 4709 x 1827 x 1442
Wheelbase (mm)2856 2851
Kerbweight (EU)2125kg 1545kg 
Performance0-100km/h / top speed 5.7s, 190km/h 5.8s, 250km/h
BMW i4 eDrive40 compared to the BMW 330i sedan

BMW hasn’t gone wild with the design, despite this being a BEV. The i4 eDrive40i is more recognisable as a fully-electric car, thanks to the aero design wheels, blue highlights on the badge and grille, and the blue ‘hockey stick’ design flourish on the side. Those slick wheels also add 10km to the range and reduce drag by five percent. 

It’s also stuck with the Mega Kidney Grille (that’s what CarBuyer is calling it from now), with both i4s having a closed version with dimples, unlike the slats of the 4 Series Coupe, since it doesn’t need as much cooling. The rear sports a more obvious visual cue: There’s no tailpipe, instead there is only a lower diffuser section. 

The M50 version looks more like a conventional car due to large, darkened front sections  and a grille lined in Cerium Grey colour, along with the mirrors, like the M340i. There’s a bootlid spoiler, and all the lower edges of the bodykit are finished in gloss black. For the i4 eDrive40, there will be an M Sport kit to make it look similar to the i4 M50 outside and inside.

As it is with the 4 Series Coupe, there will also be a further M Sport Pro package that adds on M Sport brakes, 19-inch wheels, black gloss ‘Shadow Line’ trim, black M spoiler, a sportier soundtrack, hi-fi speaker system and M seat belts. 

As a member of the 4 Series Gran Coupe family, and like the 3 Series and 4 Series Coupe, the i4 runs on BMW’s CLAR platform for its larger cars. As a 4 Series Gran Coupe, the wheelbase is very similar to a 3 Series, though the car is slightly longer overall. Therefore we expect it to offer a similar amount of legroom to that car, in other words, good room for two adults as noted in our review of the 318i.  Unlike the 3 Series, The liftback boot will offer a bigger loading aperture, and 470-litres of storage space, expanding to 1,290-litres with the seats folded down. 

No surprise that the interior is going full-on glass cockpit. As first seen in the iX, the i4 will have BMW’s new Curved Display on the interior which fuses a 12.3-inch driver’s active instrument panel with a 14.9-inch central control display, both under a single pane of glass. More importantly, that means the newest iDrive system with BMW OS 8.0 which includes even more tech features and connectivity – as detailed in our story here.  We can see that the cabin otherwise looks similar to the 3 Series, so we can expect both cars to receive the newer iDrive system when their facelift rolls around.

Like most new cars, the i4 will be packed with active safety systems up the wazoo, expect at least the usual brake mitigation/accident avoidance, lane keeping, cross traffic alerts, and more. Interestingly, the i4 is the first car whose adaptive cruise control (if optioned) can read traffic lights and do full stop and go. There is also a new mode where surrounding traffic is displayed on the driver’s screen, as it is on the latest S-Class. 

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about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong