Here is the BMW Concept i4, the all-electric Gran Coupe whose direct offspring BMW hopes will drag it into the post-combustion age ahead of schedule.
The launch was due to go off with quite some fanfare. Due to some non-car news you may have read the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled, but none other than Hans Zimmer, the mind-bendingly awesome composer of all-time great scores for Gladiator, Inception and The Lion King, was due to present the “unique drive sound” of the Concept i4. We can only presume it doesn’t sound like a booming Hollywood action scene, but we’re open to persuasion.
There’s more to the Concept i4’s sound than the usual, though. It has, BMW says, its own ‘soundscape’ developed by Zimmer and BMW’s ‘sound designer’ Renzo Vitale. Opening the doors, pressing the start button and other actions all have their own specially-set noises. Nobody say gimmick.
As you can see, we haven’t talked about its face yet. Don’t worry, we just need to psyche ourselves up first. The Concept i4 is packed full of batteries; enough to give it a theoretical 373-mile range and the ability to sprint to 62mph from rest in four seconds dead. Various power modes are available up to 523bhp but with a top speed of “over 124mph” it’s clearly a single-speed transmission.
The batteries weigh around 550kg and pack 80kWh or so of electro-juice. Its claimed 373-mile range came from WLTP testing so it should, in theory, be fairly representative. The batteries are unusually slim, allowing them to slot into the car’s floor without compromising legroom too much.
We don’t need to go out of our way to criticise the “prominent” grille, blanked off and dubbed an “intelligence panel” full of sensors. We just don’t. Let’s just say it ranks very close to the bottom of the list of prettiest BMWs ever and leave it at that. Unfortunately, the presence of a grille almost identical to that of the Concept 4 an spied M4 prototypes, suggests that BMW is persevering with bringing it to production. That said, the Concept i4’s release does mention a design “reserved exclusively for this model.” We’ll have to wait and see what that ends up meaning.
BMW has confirmed a couple of bits that you see here as production-ready. The curved interior display and spidery steering wheel are both the items that will see daylight in showrooms. They’ll use a next-generation operating system with three different display modes for different driving styles. We assume there will be an array of driving modes like Comfort, Sport and the like.
Another negative is that the climate control functions have been integrated into the screens at a time when manufacturers are starting to switch back to buttons and dials because they’re very obviously easier to use while on the move. Production of the series-ready i4 will begin next year following a €200 million investment into BMW’s Munich factory.