New BMW i4 2021: specs, range and on-sale date

The new pure-electric BMW i4 is on the way; concept is very close to a future production car

This is the BMW Concept i4 – the closest look we’ve had yet at the German brand’s forthcoming pure-electric rival to the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2.

The company has confirmed that the production version of the BMW i4 will use a new 523bhp BMW eDrive powertrain. This will be the fifth generation of the technology that BMW has brought to market; it'll make its debut in the BMW iX3 SUV later in 2020 and appear in the iNEXT SUV – as well as the production version of the i4 – in 2021. BMW is targeting a range of around 373 miles for the new i4 from an 80kWh battery pack.

Performance figures are impressive and should help the production i4 keep pace with its Tesla rival. BMW claims a 0-62mph time of around four seconds and a top speed in excess of 124mph. 

The i4 will be built on a platform shared with many of BMW’s biggest-selling cars and will join models like the 3 Series and the recently revealed 4 Series in making up the brand’s ‘premium mid-range’ model line. BMW says that the production version of the i4 will be built on the same production lines as plug-in hybrid and internal-combustion-engined models at its factory in Munich, starting in 2021. 

BMW i4 Concept styling

The Concept i4 is a striking car, not least thanks to its massive kidney ‘grille’, which houses sensors for the on-board systems. The large-nostrilled look should make production and is likely to roll out across other models in the range, too.

The car’s profile is familiarly BMW: a long bonnet, rakish roofline and a small ‘Hofmeister Kink’ in the three-quarter window help to bring the i4 in line with the rest of the line-up. Large side strakes also feature, highlighted blue in true BMW i fashion. That blue theme continues on the car’s grille and around the large diffusers on the rear.

The i4’s design shares much with that of the BMW Concept 4 coupe revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2019, which is said to give a good indication as to how the next-generation BMW 4 Series will look. The pair share similar grille, light and door-mirror treatments – and production models of each will be built alongside each other.

Inside, it’s not hard to imagine what a production version of the Concept i4 will look like. Beyond the swathes of white materials and copper trim, the overall architecture is not too far removed from that of the latest 3 Series. The air vents are lower and the centre console's shape is familiar, but the Concept i4 adds a sheen of slick, minimalist details. Most prominent of these is a large, curved screen which will feature BMW’s next-generation infotainment operating system when it arrives on the production model.

BMW says a range of driving modes will be selectable by the driver – Core, Sport and Efficient – with each changing the look of that screen and the car’s ambient lighting when selected as a visual representation of the car’s mechanical set up in each case.

BMW enlisted the help of film composer Hans Zimmer to create the Concept i4’s unique sound, as shown in the video above, which changes depending on which drive mode is selected. The car also introduces a new 'ready-to-drive' sound that's set to be rolled out across all of BMW's electric and plug-in hybrid cars from July 2020. 

Range, charging and battery

BMW knows how far its rivals’ cars can go on a single charge, so it wants to at least match them. With the likes of Audi, Tesla and Mercedes all achieving 250 miles, BMW says the i4 will be capable of more than 373 miles of range. 

The eDrive system is also designed to be available in a range of different power outputs and it’s possible that the company could sell the i4 with a variety of battery capacities and, therefore, ranges. However, that will depend on customer demand. The i4's performance also looks set to take the fight to its rivals: 0-62mph will take less than four seconds, with a top speed of around 124mph.