2021 BMW i4 revealed – all-electric 4-series to rival Tesla Model 3

BMW’s next EV takes the form of an electrified 4-series Gran Coupe, topped out with a 530bhp M Performance flagship

BMW has revealed its next all-electric model, the i4. As an electric version of the incoming 4-series Gran Coupe, it does not have a bespoke platform like the iX SUV; instead it shares its underpinnings with existing combustion models.

Specifically the i4 sits on an adapted version of the 4-series’ CLAR architecture, but swaps out the traditional combustion powertrain for a pair of electric motors that will power all four wheels. Exact power figures for all models have not been revealed as yet, but BMW has confirmed that the range will be topped by an M Performance model with 523bhp, making it more powerful than the new M4 Competition (503bhp). BMW has also confirmed this model will reach 62mph in 4sec, only a tenth behind the M4 Competition when fitted with xDrive.

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BMW has also revealed that certain versions of the new i4 will be able to top 360 miles from a single charge on the WLTP cycle, making its estimated range comparable to that of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range – a car it will also match on performance.

In order to adapt the CLAR structure to house the electric motors and battery pack, BMW has had to make lots of subtle modifications to the i4’s body, which sits slightly higher than standard 4-series models. Changes include shallower doors to allow for the taller floor, a deeper sill design that incorporates a contrasting trim piece, and the blanking of the controversial new grille. 

BMW is yet to reveal finer details about the i4’s powertrain and specifications, but they will be available closer to the new i4’s launch later this year. Joining the i4 will also be an all-electric version of the 3-series saloon, and BMW’s next 7-series will also be available with both combustion and electric powertrains too, signalling that BMW’s electrification strategy will be to amalgamate fully electrified models into its current range structure, rather than having a completely separate electric range sitting alongside. 

This differs from rival Mercedes-Benz, who has made a conscious decision to segment its all-electric models completely from its existing models, as will be seen later this year with the arrival of its EQS and later the EQE. Both these models will be distinct from the traditional S-class and E-class, running on a bespoke platform and with entirely unique packaging and styling. It will be an interesting exercise over the next few years to see which of these two automotive giants made the right decision.

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