The all-electric BMW i4 is faster than an F80 M3

03rd March 2020
Bob Murray

This is the bold new face of the coming electric age at BMW. We are familiar already with the electrified i3 hatch and the i8 sportscar – ground-breakers both – but the i4 you see here is where BMW gets battery-powered serious with a mainstream model. And that narrow and tall new kidney grille means you won’t miss it.


We saw, and were pretty scared by, the new grille on a concept last year, but it turns out that in a great tradition of BMW styling controversies, it’s not so bad after all. In any case we will have to get used to it. The BMW Concept i4, BMW’s big news today at what would have been the 90th Geneva Motor Show had it gone ahead, is the first real taste of what BMW’s next-gen electric production cars will look like.

As BMW design chef Adrian van Hooydonk says: “The BMW Concept i4 brings electrification to the core of the BMW brand.”

Actually we think the grille – encased in a backlit blue frame and drawing inspiration from the shape of the grille of the 1930s BMW 328 sports car – looks cool. It’s not actually a grille for air to get in of course but an “intelligence panel” for stuff, from a multitude of autonomous driving sensors, to get out. And it is what’s behind it that counts for most.


Behind the new face is a whopping electric motor, as previewed here with an M3-beating 530PS (523bhp) fed by 80kWh batteries under the floor, sufficient BMW says for a range of 373 miles, 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds and a top speed in excess of 124mph. Plus it should sound good: BMW commissioned composer Hans Zimmer to “emotionalise” the noise BMW's electric vehicles will make by combining elements of the brand’s past and future.

The mechanical layout is as close as you can get in an electric car to a big engine up front driving the rear wheels – or as here, all four wheels – in traditional BMW fashion, something reflected in the equally traditional long-bonnet, short-tail proportions. Showing how experienced BMW is now with electric drivetrains, the firm says the Concept i4 represents the fifth generation of its eDrive technology.


It is all wrapped up in a handsome if conventional (by i3 or i8 standards) four-door Gran Coupe body which, though still with normal concept car flourishes inside and out, is thought to accurately depict what the new 4 Series Gran Coupe, and other 4 Series models, will look like when unveiled later this year. There will be combustion engine and electric versions – all are built alongside each other on the same Munich production line. As previewed here in this top of the range electric form, the car very much in BMW’s sights is the Tesla Model 3.


The cabin is very Tesla-esque: clean, bright and pared back with innovation for the driver in the form of a new Curved Display. Inside this slim, borderless form are almost all the car’s operating functions, including the climate control, each controlled by touch with haptic feedback. It is something else to get used to in your new BMW: the firm says the Curved Display offers a look ahead to the production versions. The long wheelbase and flat floor contribute to what BMW says is plenty of spaciousness and functionality in the i4, more than the model’s coupe styling might suggest.

Plenty to look forward to then, but before the electric i4 Gran Coupe goes on sale expect the latest electric tech along with the blue accents and new electric-car design cues to appear first on the iX3. This is due to go into production this year, 12 months ahead of the i4, as a rival for the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC.

  • BMW

  • i4

  • EV

  • Geneva Motor Show

  • Geneva 2020

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