Of the 16 models and 47 trim packages BMW currently offers, only one, the diminutive i3, is pure electric. That will change early next year with the addition of three new BMW all-electric i models: the i4 eDrive40, iX xDrive50, and the very promising performance i4 M50, all scheduled for availability March of 2022.
Let’s start with that M50, the one with all the power and performance. BMW says the i4 M50 is the “first fully electric performance model to come from BMW M GmbH.” And it probably won’t be the last.
“The ingredients which make up the experience of driving a BMW include instantaneous power delivery, excellent traction and directional stability, neutral steering behavior, precisely controllable handling even under maximum lateral acceleration, superb stopping power, and an excellent balance between sportiness and ride comfort in everyday driving and on long trips alike,” said BMW. “The new BMW i4 delivers all these attributes with zero tailpipe emissions.”
The i4 M50 has all-wheel drive, too, with one electric motor at each axle. Normal drive configuration is via the rear-wheels, with the front motor kicking in as soon as slip is detected. The i4 is rear-drive only.
In both the i4 eDrive40 and the i4 M50, the 82-kWh lithium-ion battery is bolted to the body structure with 22 bolts, forming an integral part of the chassis, what BMW assures is a “rigid body structure and sophisticated chassis design.” The platform was built with internal combustion, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric drivetrains in mind, BMW said, so it’s not a purpose-built EV architecture. That will arrive in 2025 in the form of the Neu Klasse EV-only architecture that will underpin 3-, 5-, and 7-Series BMWs. Look for 25 “electrified” BMWs by 2025, half of which will be pure battery electric vehicles.
As for the i4 eDrive40 and i4 M50, the two share a common platform, with the rear half of the cars getting enhanced body rigidity and the front half adding shock-tower strut bracing. The i4 has one motor at the back, while the M50 has motors fore and aft. The M50’s system adjusts torque front to back as necessary for maximum grip and acceleration, with help from BMW’s “near-actuator wheel slip limitation,” which BMW says operates 10 times quicker than DSC. Both the i4 eDrive40 and M50 get that system. There’s even launch control in both vehicles.
Both electric i4s get aluminum struts in front and a rear five-link setup.
“Axle kinematics, track width, and camber have all been specially configured to increase steering precision and the absorption of lateral forces during lateral acceleration,” BMW says. “The model-specific elastokinematics help to ensure precise wheel guidance and increase primary ride comfort. This includes using a hydraulically damped torque strut bearing to reduce oscillation and vibration.”
Steering is electrically actuated and mechanically driven, offering what BMW says is “sharp turn-in response and great cornering dynamics.” Variable sport steering with a variable rack ratio is optional on the i4 eDrive40 and standard on the M50. Adaptive M suspension is standard on the M50 and an option on the i4 eDrive40.
On the M50, engaging “Sport” mode increases combined drive horsepower by 67 to 536 for over 10 seconds, while torque is up by 48 lb-ft to 586.
Outside, the sleek i4 and M50 shapes yield a cd of just 0.24 for the i4 and 0.25 for the M50. Even though it won’t need it because air flow in electric cars is considerably less than in a conventional internal-combustion engine car, the pair nonetheless retain the massive, scary nostrils of the regular BMW 4-Series. While some parts of that gaping maw are blocked off in the regular 4-Series, most of it is blocked off in this application. Yeesh.
Inside, there’s the requisite ginormous curved screen, this one’s sporting a 12.3-inch information display and a 14.9-inch control display that effectively merge into one 27.2-inch-wide swath of electronics at your fingertips.
Pricing starts at $56,395 for the i4 eDrive40 and $66,895 for the M50.
For those preferring a crossover-bodied EV, BMW offers the new generation all-electric iX xDrive50. It sports a combined 516 hp, a 0-62 mph time of 4.6 seconds, and a sticker price of $83,295. The Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV in BMW parlance) offers everything from 5G and personal eSIM support to a single-piece panoramic glass roof with electrochromic shading and a wide, wide BMW curved dash display that is ubiquitous among expensive EVs today.
If that’s not enough, BMW says a “more powerful iX M60 with over 600 hp is planned for the future.”
Looking forward to driving these someday soon and to more electric vehicles from Munich in the not-too-distant future.
Share your thoughts on the new EVs from BMW—including the aut0maker’s first M-badged electric car—in the comments below.
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