We’re getting a lot of 4 Series Gran Coupe vibes here

BMW is set on keeping up with the electric car wave that is currently flooding the car industry and now that it has tested the waters with the i3, Munich will unleash its meat-and-potatoes electric car under the i4 nameplate sometime next year, probably at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show.

The i4 will take the shape of a sedan and will look a lot like the current BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. In our book, the 4er GC is one of the sleekest cars in Munich’s present lineup, by the way. Looks aside, two questions arise: will the i4 pack the desired amount of power and long-range capabilities sought after by today’s clientele? Furthermore, how will it fare against some of its potential competition out there?

The BMW i4 Is, Basically, An Electric 4 Series Gran Coupe

BMW Tried To Cast Shade on the Ford Mustang Mach-E By Unveiling Information About the 2021 BMW i4
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Based on previous spy shots as well as official BMW-released photos showing the i4 wearing its camouflage attire, we could deduct that the i4 will look a lot like the current BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

The reason? It also shares the same CLAR (CLuster ARchitecture) underpinnings, which makes a lot of sense in the wider equation of saving costs and using a tried-and-tested recipe. Besides, there’s no point in deviating too much from the original 4 Series design as BMW will also be looking to keep R&D costs in check. What’s more, with the right brushing in the right places, the i4 could get a personality of its own and still not wander too far from the 4 Series’ design creed. We just pray it doesn’t get a ginormous grille. Speaking of which, that’s more likely to sport a closed design, as there’s no need for it to cool the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) anymore. The exhaust setup and the rear-facing pipes will obviously be gone too. We also expect the common addition of badges and blue-ish accents, besides the compulsory charging socket.

BMW Tried To Cast Shade on the Ford Mustang Mach-E By Unveiling Information About the 2021 BMW i4
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As far as size and proportions go, we expect the i4 to feature a longer wheelbase that would generate more room for the battery pack between the two axles.

The current BMW 4 Series has a wheelbase of 110.6 inches coupled with 182.7 inches in length, 71.9 inches in width, and 54.7 inches in height. As far as we can tell from the photos BMW provides, the i4 will sit a tad higher, so perhaps a height of 55, maybe even 56 inches is not out of the question. As far as interior size is concerned, we don’t expect a major step up or down from what the 4 Series Gran Coupe has to offer: 42.2 inches worth of legroom in the front and 33.7 inches in the rear, coupled with 54.8 inches of shoulder room in the front seats and 54.3 inches on the back seat.

The BMW i4 Will Offer V-8 Levels of Power

BMW Tried To Cast Shade on the Ford Mustang Mach-E By Unveiling Information About the 2021 BMW i4
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BMW insists that the i4’s maximum output of 390 kilowatts (523 horsepower) is on par to what Munich’s current V-8 engines can deliver.

For the sake of the bigger picture, we’ll first have a look at how the i4 fares against the U.S.-sold BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe range. So, we’ve got the 523-horsepower i4 going against the 248-horsepower 430i Gran Coupe and the 320-horsepower 440i Gran Coupe. Obviously, the i4 is not a match for these two.

Coming back to BMW’s V-8-powered models, the i4’s output matches the one of the M850i xDrive, which employs a 4.4-liter V-8 good for 523 horsepower. The same V-8 mill is tuned to produce 600 horsepower and 617 horsepower in the M8 Gran Coupe and M8 Competition Gran Coupe, respectively. What’s more, together with the said M8 versions, the M5, the X5 M and the X6 M all share the powerhouse, including their Competition-badged derivatives.

If we are to look over the fence and into Mercedes-AMG’s backyard, we find three bi-turbo V-8 mills currently spread across Affalterbach’s stable. The first unit is the 4.0-liter M177 good for up to 630 horsepower that powers the likes of E 63 S Sedan and Wagon, as well as the GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe. Then there’s the 4.0-liter M178 that shares the same engine block with the M177 but uses a dry-sump lubrication system required by the more demanding AMG GT, GT C, and GT R. The unit is available with up to 577 horsepower. Last but definitely not least, we have the 5.5-liter M157 found under the hood of the GLS 63. It, too, is available with up to 577 horsepower.

Lastly, the BMW i4’s 523 horsepower will also go against the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s four power outputs, but it trumps each of them.

Depending on version, the Mustang Mach-E is can pack 255 horsepower, 282 horsepower, 332 horsepower, or 459 horsepower. As you can see, the i4 wins this battle effortlessly.

BMW i4 Battery and range

BMW Tried To Cast Shade on the Ford Mustang Mach-E By Unveiling Information About the 2021 BMW i4
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The BMW i4 will pack Munich’s fifth-generation eDrive technology. Concretely, that means a completely redesigned high-voltage battery pack that places a lot of focus on a flat design and “optimised” energy density. What does that mean?

The battery pack itself will weigh around 550 kilograms (1,212 pounds) and offer a capacity of 80 kWh, enough for the BMW i4 to roam for roughly 600 kilometers (373 miles) on a single charge.

The flat design and the lowest possible weight are crucial aspects because a) BMW wants to maximize interior space and a thinner battery will aid that goal and b) the battery will sit under the vehicle’s floor, so it will contribute to a lower center of gravity, but you don’t want too much weight either. This is BMW, after all, so we expect the i4 to handle like a charm and even sport a near-50:50 mass distribution between the two axles, just like the BMW 4 Series (48.8 percent front and 51.2 percent rear, to be more precise).

BMW Tried To Cast Shade on the Ford Mustang Mach-E By Unveiling Information About the 2021 BMW i4
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That’s not to say range isn’t important. In this department, the BMW i4 will compete with the Tesla Model 3 as well a Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, to some extent. So we’re looking at a max range of 373 miles for the i4, 322 miles (518 kilometers) for the Long Range Model 3, and 300 miles (482 kilometers) for the “extended range” rear-wheel-driven Ford Mustang Mach-E. As you can see, the BMW i4 wins this one by a clean 50-mile margin in front of the Model 3. The Mach-E comes in third, with 70 miles of range separating it from the BMW i4.

Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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