BMW Concept i4 revealed – previews electric Gran Coupe with 530 hp, 600 km range; debut in 2021

There may be no Geneva Motor Show this year, but the unveiling of the BMW Concept i4 has gone ahead. This Gran Coupe (BMW’s term for four-door coupe) takes electric drive to the core of the BMW brand and heralds a new era in Sheer Driving Pleasure, Munich says. The car we see here is a preview of the BMW i4 that will go into production in 2021.

Under the skin is a the brand’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, which will debut with the BMW iX3 SUV that’s due to go into production this year. After that, it’s the turn of the BMW iNext and i4.

The electric motor generates up to 530 hp (390 kW) – which ranks it alongside a current BMW V8 internal combustion engine – and this being an EV, there’s instantaneous power delivery. 0-100 km/h can be done in around 4.0 seconds and top speed is in excess of 200 km/h.

BMW Concept i4 revealed – previews electric Gran Coupe with 530 hp, 600 km range; debut in 2021

The package also includes a newly designed high-voltage battery with the latest cell tech. The slim battery weighs roughly 550 kg, has an energy content of around 80 kWh and achieves an operating range of up to 600 km in the WLTP cycle. BMW says that its eDrive tech sets new standards in terms of power density, efficiency and EV range.

The car’s sound was developed under the brand name of BMW IconicSounds Electric by world renowned composer Hans Zimmer together with BMW sound designer Renzo Vitale. Aiming to emotionalise BMW’s EVs and make them audible using individual sound worlds, there are different driving sounds for Core and Sport modes. The sounds of the door opening and the starting scenario were also engineered.

The shape of the Concept i4 is typical of BMW’s four-door coupes, with a long wheelbase, fastback roofline and short overhangs. Rendered in Frozen Light Copper here, there are blue elements in the front end, flanks and rear. The blanked kidney grille and clear aero lips aid aerodynamics, and the wheels blend aero and lightweight design. At the back, there are slim L-shaped lights and a diffuser in place of exhaust pipes.

BMW Concept i4 revealed – previews electric Gran Coupe with 530 hp, 600 km range; debut in 2021

But it’s the front end that will get people talking, especially the large vertical kidney grille, which BMW says provides a tangible connection between the past and future of BMW. We’ve seen it before on the Concept 4 from September 2019, which previews the next 4 Series.

With no combustion engine to cool, the grille now serves primarily as an “intelligence panel” housing various sensors. The marque’s signature four-eyed look is created here by two intricate, freestanding LED elements on either side. There’s even a new logo. Yes, BMW’s famous blue and white propeller badge has a new two-dimensional look and a transparent outer ring design.

Inside, every element is trained on the driver. The new BMW Curved Display teams up with the steering wheel for a new take on driver orientation – this is a preview of what’s to come in the production iNext and i4, BMW says. The “instrument panel” and “centre screen” have been merged into a single unit, and the use of non-reflective glass removes the need for a shroud.

Almost all operating functions are integrated into the touchscreen display as part of an overall approach to reduce the number of haptic controls to the minimum. Even the climate control system now works by touch control.

There are three Experience Modes – Core, Sport and Efficient – which preview a next-gen operating system that will be rolled out in 2021. BMW says that the visual differentiation between the three modes spans everything from how the user experiences the display and graphics, to how the interior is presented, supported by ambient lighting.

Core mode introduces the driver’s area to an updated interpretation of the four “widgets” in today’s BMWs. 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 by swiping and arrange them by drag-and-drop.

BMW Concept i4 revealed – previews electric Gran Coupe with 530 hp, 600 km range; debut in 2021

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 side of the display shows functions akin to BMW M’s lap timer app.

Efficient mode debuts an “Assisted Driving View” that shows the driver what the car’s sensors are detecting. This opens up deeper insights into the car’s tech, such as how it communicates with its surroundings. In the Concept i4, the focus is on anticipatory and efficient driving, and key info for efficient driving is incorporated. The right side of the display shows additional info such as the charge level and range.

“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 Concept i4 transports a feeling of sustainable driving pleasure,” says Domagoj Dukec, head of BMW Design.

With the displays covered, we move down to the only other panel in the cockpit, between the seats. The traditional gear lever has been replaced by a toggle-type shifter. The iDrive controller (yes, it’s still there) and seat memory buttons in the doors are finished in crystal glass.

The cloth/leather combination for the seats is composed of microfibre with line graphics and natural leather tanned using olive leaf. Stitching is kept minimal, which BMW says emphasises the clean and modern feel.

If it looks spacious at the back, thats exactly what Munich is claiming. The levels of headroom and legroom exceed expectations of a coupe, while integral head restraints for all seats add to the sporting feel. The cutouts in the head restraints references sporty BMWs from today, while the outer seats repeat the form of the front chairs for more – you guessed it – sporting flavour.

Series production of the BMW i4 will begin in 2021 at BMW’s main plant in Munich, joining regular ICE-powered cars and plug-in hybrids on the same assembly line. Integrating i4 production to into a well-oiled factory is a challenging task as the EV’s architecture is unique. BMW is investing around 200 million euros in Plant Munich for the production of the i4.

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