Who says battery-electric cars don’t like going sideways? Not BMW, which is bigging up the sporting credentials of its new i4, due for launch in the spring, with plenty of oversteer action. And that’s before a likely M version arrives.
With its whiney electric motor it may lack the silky roar of a straight-six, but the i4 does seem able to change direction like a true BMW sports saloon, as the video of the car during its final testing programme shows.
“For the first time, we’ve developed a BMW with sporty DNA for purely electric driving entirely from scratch,” says project manager David Alfredo Ferrufino Camacho.
As BMW’s first mainstream battery-electric car and answer to the Tesla Model 3 and various Jaguar, Audi and Merc models, there’s sure to be a range of i4s not all of which will be as sporty and powerful as the one they have chosen to premiere the model with.
The one you see here is the top variant – it’s possibly even an i4 with an M in its name. A 530PS (390kW) motor in the nose is able to fire it from 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds while an 80kWh battery aims at a Tesla-rivalling range of 370 miles.
As an electric version of the combustion-engined 3 and 4 Series (they are all built on the same production line), the i4 goes for a relatively simple set-up with a big single motor mounted in the nose. Two- and four-wheel-drive versions are likely but as the extent of drifting in the video shows, the drive emphasis is most definitely at the rear in a bid to capture traditional BMW handling feel.
BMW says the steering is a major contributor to the car’s controllability in dynamic driving, being “entirely independent of drive forces, even during intensive acceleration or deceleration”. Torque steer? Apparently not here.
In huge contrast to the i3 and i8, the i4 looks entirely conventional. Its 4 Series Gran Coupe shell is likely to differ from petrol models only in a raft of the increasingly familiar electric car styling cues, such as blanked-off grille and full-width lighting strips. We will know more in a few months when the camo comes off. It should be more radical and hi-tech inside where new control systems and displays will prevail, including a curved glass screen for a dashboard.
And an M version? We already have the petrol M3 and M4 of course but an M version of their electric sibling is thought to be a certainty, though likely more as an M designation rather than a full-fat M car.
Never mind the batteries then, it’s BMW business as usual – we will know for sure later this year when deliveries are due to start.