Spotlight: BMW i4
Martyn Collins has all the details of BMW’s game-changing, electric compact executive car – the BMW i4.
BMW was early with the i3 and it’s taken giant strides since. By the end of 2021, the carmaker will have over one million electric vehicles in use globally. In fact, 25% of its production is now EV or PHEV.
Yet, as Rob East, general manager of corporate sales, tells Fleet World: “We’re still at the start of our journey to electrification, but development hasn’t slowed down, as we are in the fifth generation of battery technology, which now gives a very useable range – even for high-mileage users.”
To support this, BMW has 13 full electric models coming. “The shift isn’t happening in a couple of years, it is happening now,” East says.
The all-new i4 is attracting most interest, as it’s closest in concept to the best-selling Tesla Model 3.
The i4 is built on the same platform as the current 3 Series. eDrive 40 and range-topping M50 models will be available from the November launch. Priced from £51,905, the eDrive40 is rear-drive, while the high-performance M50 has rear-biased, xDrive four-wheel drive. The eDrive 40 has 340hp, with 0-62mph acceleration in 5.7 seconds, 118mph top speed, yet its range is 367 miles. Choose the more powerful M50 version and power goes up to 544hp, with 0-62mph acceleration in 3.9 seconds, and a 140mph top speed.
Range for the M50 drops to 316 miles, but both i4s can be recharged up to 200kW, meaning an 87-mile range can be delivered at charging stations of this kind in just 10 minutes.
iDrive into the future
Inside, BMW’s latest iDrive Operating System 8 features. BMW describes it as taking the interaction between driver and vehicle into the digital future, with the new generation of curved display, controls, software, plus extremely powerful connectivity and data processing. One of the new features are the extra skills for the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. It adopts a new visualisation approach, which uses a graphic to communicate with the vehicle’s occupants. This graphic features spheres of light in different sizes and brightness levels, giving a clearly visible focal point and recognisable states of activity. Despite the improved voice control software, there’s still a touchscreen and the i4 has the usual click wheel for navigating through the infotainment on the go.
The compact executive sector is a hard-fought one, but the Tesla Model 3 has proved there is a market for a full EV model. BMW has a solid EV history thanks to the pioneering i3 and the fact that 13 more electrified models are due by 2030 underlines the German company’s commitment.
The i4 is attractive, powerful, has a good range – and should also offer the driver experience expected.
With prices starting at £51,905, it’s no surprise that Rob East says he’s had lots of interest. Expect to see plenty of i4s pounding UK roads later this year.