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BMW gives a first glimpse of the new electric i4

Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 4:31pm

BMW has kicked off the rush of new car launches and concept car reveals for the 2020 Geneva Motor Show. The show itself doesn’t start until next week, 5 March, but the Munich car maker has shown us a video which reveals — in part, anyway — the shape of its new i4 electric four-door coupe.

The brief video is actually a CGI special effect, which shows a metallic, mercury-like, liquid flowing down to form the outline of the new electric four-door. Officially, the i4 is still a concept car, rather than a final production version, but the car to be shown at Geneva is expected to be exceptionally close to the finished article.

The big question, of course, is whether or not BMW will put another of its controversial noses on the i4. The classic, hitherto restrained, BMW kidney grilles have been growing in size and visual excess lately, with the apogee (or perigee — take your pick) being the massive, tall-and-narrow grille shown on the concept version of the new 4 Series Coupe last year.

Will the i4 gain a grille as controversial as that? Or as the massive grilles fixed to the front of the updated 7 Series luxury saloon? We will have to wait and see.

What do we know of the i4 thus far? We know that battery is an ultra-compact, flat (so that it fits under the floor) stack of lithium-ion cells. The Munich company says that it can squeeze in more power cells per module, and has more flexibility with how those modules fit together, allowing it to make major improvements in range and performance.

That range figure is being claimed as ‘around 600km’ while performance, from a two-motor setup giving the i4 530hp, will be in the order of a 4.0 seconds 0-100km/h sprint, and a top speed of more than 200km/h.

All of that is coming from a battery pack with just an 80kWh capacity. Now, that’s still not small, but it is less than the 90-100kmWh packs used by most of the competition to achieve similar, or even inferior, performance.

The battery pack is also not that hefty — 550kg isn’t, perhaps, size zero, but it’s fairly trim for a high-end battery with current technology. They’re compatible with the latest 150kW ultra-rapid chargers, and BMW claims that you can top them up by 100km of range in just six minutes using such a charger.

“The BMW Concept i4 brings electrification to the core of the BMW brand,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s Head of Design. “The design is dynamic, clean and elegant. In short: a perfect BMW that happens to be zero emission.”

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