It seems just about every European automaker is readying a Tesla Model 3 fighter at the moment, and BMW is no exception. Tipped to be badged as the i4, the Bavarian Tesla Model 3 has been spotted with heavy camouflage in recent days, about a year and a half after an electric sedan was previewed at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show in the guise of the i Vision Dynamics concept.
While the awkwardly named i Vision Dynamics concept sported some adventurous bodywork, looking like a background prop from “I, Robot,” the prototypes that have been spotted testing look anything but adventurous. Instead, they look a lot like a 4-Series Gran Coupe.
While it’s still a little early to draw conclusions about exactly how the i4 will look once it arrives in 2021, it’s not surprising BMW would choose a relatively established design direction for its first EV sedan: Early hybrids like the i3 and the i8, purchased by early adopters, needed avant-garde exteriors. Now that the regular BMW buyers are looking at electric cars alongside gasoline-powered cars, something that looks a lot like a 3- or 4-Series is the way to go.
“By 2025 we will be offering 25 models with an electrified drive system — of which 12 will be pure-electric,” BMW said during the debut of the i Vision Dynamics concept in 2017. “With the BMW i Vision Dynamics, we are showcasing how we envisage future electric mobility between the i3 and i8: a dynamic and progressive, four-door Gran Coupe.”
The 2017 concept promised a range of 373 miles (600 kilometers), 0-62-mph launches in four seconds and a relatively tame top speed of 120 mph. One thing that is still unclear is whether the i4 will share a platform with the 3- and 4-Series cars, or whether it will have its own platform.
While the profile of the car will be very similar to that of the 4-Series Gran Coupe, expect to see a BMW i family fascia with closed-out kidney grilles (which by 2021 could be quite a bit larger than we’re used to if the updated 7-Series is any indication) and some other stylistic and aerodynamic tweaks now that an engine doesn’t need to draw in all that air. Expect to see a few blue accents here and there as well, in keeping with the i family design theme.
“BMW i is the innovation driver for the BMW Group,” Klaus Frohlich, member of the Board of Management at BMW AG for Development, said in 2017. “Here, visionary solutions and future-ready concepts become reality for the first time. But BMW i also acts as a spearhead of innovation for our other brands.”
When will we see the production version of the i4? Likely in 2020, ahead of the start of sales late that year as a 2021 model.
Writer: Jay Ramey
Published : January 25, 2019