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BMW reveals Concept i4

Electric BMW i4 Gran Coupe previewed by Concept i4, production confirmed for Oz

4 Mar 2020

BMW has provided the clearest preview yet of its upcoming i4 Gran Coupe mid-sized electric vehicle (EV) by revealing the Concept i4, a sleek electric four-door sharing all the headline figures it promised for the production model that has been slated for Australian launch in 2022.


Without a doubt the most significant of these figures are the power, performance and range, with the Concept i4 producing “up to” 395kW, 0-100km/h in about 4.0 seconds, a top speed north of 200km/h and claimed driving range of up to 600km on a full charge.


All of these figures place the Concept i4 well ahead of the established Jaguar I-Pace and incoming Audi E-Tron, but the Tesla Model 3 offers swifter acceleration with the Performance variant capable of a 0-100km/h dash in just 3.4 seconds.


The i4’s power and range will come courtesy of BMW’s fifth generation eDrive technology, which will also underpin the upcoming iX3 and iNEXT electric SUVs, coupled with an 80kWh battery claimed to be relatively lightweight for its capacity at 550kg.


Style-wise, the Concept i4 takes a step away from established BMW design language, reiterating the M4-previewing Concept 4’s polarising new take on the iconic ‘kidney’ grille that stretches from the bonnet deep into the front bumper.


Despite the lack of internal combustion engine under the bonnet, BMW has opted to keep the controversial grille – albeit it blanked out – and turn it into an “intelligence panel” housing myriad sensors for active safety and semi-autonomous driving functions.


Narrow, angular headlights flank the top corners of the grille, each housing a pair of LED daytime running lights that add an extra frown to the already squinting look.


Deep vertical air ducts on the outside edges of the bumper lead up to create the lines of the flared wheelarches, while below they help to emphasise the integrated front splitter.


Viewed from the side, the Concept i4 shares its swooping four-door-coupe profile with the rest of BMW’s Gran Coupe variants, albeit with a slightly higher boot line.


At the back are thin landscape-oriented L-shaped LED tail-light clusters that follow a deep contour across the back of the car and run parallel with the sharply curved boot lip.


Below the tail-lights sit two deeply sculpted air channels – matching those at the front – that lead down to meet a large two-piece rear diffuser arrangement at the bottom of the rear bumper.


Shared across almost every element of the exterior design are blue highlights ranging from the grille and headlight surrounds to all-blue side air ducts and the edges of the rear diffuser, all of which BMW says are a nod to styling elements of the i8 sportscar and i3 hatch that kicked off the Bavarian brand’s electrification journey.


Inside is an all-new digital dash layout dubbed BMW Curved Display that combines the instrument cluster and infotainment system into a single large, non-reflective touchscreen oriented towards the driver for improved ergonomics and information delivery.


According to BMW, almost all operating functions have been integrated into the display “as part of an overall approach centred on reducing the number of haptic controls”.


This concept of minimalism has been continued throughout the rest of the interior with the centre console housing little more than an armrest, a handful of storage compartments and a new “central control panel” that replaces the traditional gear lever, while the rotary iDrive controller is finished in crystal glass.


BMW head of design Domagoj Dukec said attention to detail was at the core of the Concept i4’s looks.


“The design of the BMW Concept i4 shows fantastic proportions, a powerfully expressive character and, of course, a lot of attention to detail,” he said.


“With the BMW Curved Display, we have redefined BMW’s signature driver focus in an extremely elegant way.”


The seats are finished in a mix of microfibre cloth and leather upholstery while the doors, dash and screens all feature coloured ambient lighting, the colour of which is determined by three “experience modes” comprising (Core, Sport or Efficient).


Each experience mode also adjusts the graphics and information shown on the curved display graphics to match the driver’s needs, with Core being the normal day-to-day setting.


Sport mode arranges the readouts and graphics closer together to create a more focused view and turns the ambient lighting red along with the graphics.


Efficient mode turns the lighting blue – in keeping with the exterior highlights – and displays what the car’s sensors are detecting around it, debuting what BMW calls “Assisted Driving View”.


In the back, there are two sculpted seats mimicking the shape and style of those in the front to emphasise the sportiness usually associated with a coupe.


According to BMW, series production of the i4 will start in 2021 at the BMW Group’s main plant in Munich before arriving in Australia some time the following year.


“We are very interested and pleased to say we will introduce the production version of the BMW Concept i4 in 2022,” said BMW Australia product communications manager Nick Raman.


To the end of February this year, BMW has sold 3950 cars nationally, marking a 1.1 per cent improvement on the same period in 2019 (3907).

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