After teasing the general shape of their upcoming electric sedan, the BMW i4 Concept has been fully revealed in its near-production form. Does it have what it takes to compete with the Tesla Model S?
As we saw from the teaser a few days ago, the BMW i4 takes on a Gran Coupe styling with its heavily sloped roof and four doors.
Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design is obviously a fan of the design, saying:
“The BMW Concept i4 brings electrification to the core of the BMW brand. The design is dynamic, clean and elegant. In short: a perfect BMW that happens to be zero emission.”
As we expected, aside from the lack of exhaust tips in the back, the i4 looks pretty much like any future gasoline-powered BMW. Which again is not to say is a bad thing, BMWs are pretty distinctive in their design, especially the iconic kidney grill they have. Which by the way, the i4 has kept.
However, instead of cooling a nonexistent engine, the grill now serves as an “intelligence panel” and houses all of the car’s main sensors in the front. This allows for a “tangible connection between the past and future of BMW” while still being a useful feature of the car.
As you would imagine BMW has tried to make the i4 as aerodynamic as it could to make sure that its range would be competitive with any top tier electric sedans in the future.
Interestingly enough the BMW i4 comes with a modification to BMW’s iconic roundel which it has been using for over 100 years. While it still retains the white and blue circle, the outside of the circle will now be clear instead of black, matching whatever paint is on the car. While this may seem like a minor change, take one look at the logo history of BMW and you’ll see that this is a relatively major change.
Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design also commented on the design of the BMW i4, stating:
“The design of the BMW Concept i4 shows fantastic proportions, a powerfully expressive character and, of course, a lot of attention to detail. With the BMW Curved Display, we have redefined BMW’s signature driver focus in an extremely elegant way. At the same time, the BMW Concept i4 transports a feeling of sustainable driving pleasure.”
The interior probably is a bigger departure from typical BMW design than the exterior is. However, the core tenet of BMW having their cars be drivers first is still alive as BMW is making sure that everything in the interior is trained on the driver.
BMW’s new Curved Display is reminiscent of the dual-screen infotainment system that Mercedes has in some of their vehicles currently, but it is an attractive design and perfectly functional.
The BMW Curved Display encompasses a large proportion of the section in front of the driver and above the centre stack, and gives the front area a very modern appearance. Its slim, borderless form exudes quality and sophistication. Almost all operating functions are integrated into the display as part of an overall approach centred on reducing the number of haptic controls to the minimum. Even the climate control system now works by touch control.
The Curved Display will come with three different ‘Experience Modes’ that will present different information in different ways according to which of the three modes you pick.
- “Core” mode introduces the driver’s area to an updated interpretation of the four “widgets” familiar from the display concept of existing models. Here, the graphics reprise the pattern above the air vents and the Gold Bronze accent colour, consciously referencing the car’s interior design. In the area where the central display used to be positioned, a map and widgets now line up alongside one another. The user can navigate around the diagonal widgets using a swipe movement and arrange them intuitively by drag-and-drop. This allows them to adapt the display to their personal preferences.
- In “Sport” mode, the “widgets” come closer together and create a focussed view. Sideways movements behind the zones are used to show how tight the next corner is, facilitating anticipatory driving. This form of content presentation also allows effective peripheral viewing. The right-hand area of the display shows specific functions in a similar way to BMW M’s lap timer app.
- “Efficient” mode debuts an “Assisted Driving View”, which shows the driver what the car’s sensors are detecting. This Experience Mode opens up deeper insights into the car’s technology, such as how it communicates with its surroundings. In the BMW Concept i4, the focus here is on anticipatory and efficient driving, and key information for efficient driving is incorporated. The right-hand area of the display shows additional vehicle information, such as the charge level and range.
The interior is trimmed in a beautiful bronze color that I have not seen before in a BMW before and I hope it will be an option in the production version.
Finally moving on the specifications.
Unfortunately no further clarification has been given to the performance of the BMW i4. At this point, we know that it is using a battery of “around 80 kWh” that will give it a range of up to 600 km (373 miles) using the WLTP standard. It will have an output of up to 530 hp with a 0-60 mph of about four seconds and a top speed of 124 mph.
We do not know if there will be any lower trim levels of the i4 with potentially smaller batteries and lower ranges and performance numbers.
Production of the i4 will begin in 2021 in BMW’s Munich plant which BMW has invested 200 million euros into to prepare for the production of the i4.
While I imagine that this is a near-production version, I assume that there will be several changes for the production version. The headlights, size and style of the wheels, steering wheel, and certain lines in the car, particularly the L-shaped lines in the bottom corners of the rear end will most likely be toned down or changed.
For a walkthrough of the electric sedan, Top Gear made a video:
What do you guys think of the concept? Let us know down in the comments below.