The G26 BMW i4 is an all-electric five-door liftback styled sedan made by German automobile manufacturer BMW, marketed as a four-door coupé with sales commencing in 2021. The initial concept version, named BMW i Vision Dynamics, debuted at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. It is the fifth BMW i sub-brand model, and will be sold in several variants at different performance levels, including the first battery-electric variant by BMW’s motorsport division. The BMW i4 M50 has the honour of being the first fully electric BMW M car, and with over 500 horsepower on tap, it certainly earns it. The powertrain consists of two electrically excited synchronous motors positioned on both the front and rear axles that combine to deliver 536 hp and 586 lb-ft of torque. These motors are in-house units from BMW that boast a 93% efficiency and no rare earth materials in their construction. The look of the i4 is very similar to it’s 3-Series brother, sharing the now familiar large BMW front grille. The front and rear bumpers feature a unique design to help make it look a little different, and the BMW badge has a blue ring round it to denote it’s electric propulsion. The i4 has an almost completely flat underbody, resulting in a low drag coefficient of 0.25 for the M50.
The i4 M50 is instantly recognizable as a BMW. The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s grille is an actual grille that lets air flow onto a radiator, whereas the i4’s kidneys are in fact a clever, brand identifying way to package radar sensors. Also, the 4 Series’ chipmunk cheek intakes below the headlights actually flow air to intercoolers, whereas the I4’s are simply smooth, air-cheating plastic. It’s fairly standard G20-generation design and materials, with the notable exception of the massive, curved infotainment screen that dominates everything. It’s the same size screen found in the much larger iX, and here in the i4 it’s almost too big. In a nice nod to BMW dashboards of yesteryear, where the physical controls were aimed at the person piloting the ship, the curve angles the screen towards the driver. The head-up display is also significantly improved, both in terms of legibility and information offered. There’s a button between the phone and the voice-control buttons that allows you to configure both the instrument panel and the head up display. For instance, you can have Apple CarPlay shown on the screen in front of you and receive turn by turn driving directions in the head-up area.
The i4 uses the current G26 4 Series Gran Coupe iteration of the CLAR platform (the regular, seventh-generation four-door 3 Series is internally known as G20). That means struts up front, plus rear air springs mounted within a five-link geometry. Active dampers come with the M50, not so on the eDrive40. The G26 has a 1.0-inch wider front track, and a 0.5-inch wider rear track than the standard G20, with increased negative camber on the front wheels. Due to the batteries living under the floor, the center of gravity is 1.5 inches lower than a normal G26’s. The synchronous motors are the fifth generation of BMW’s eDrive units. Each motor is married to a single-speed transmission and power inverter at BMW’s sprawling Dingolfing factory, forming a single power unit. As in the iX electric SUV, the front unit is slightly smaller, lighter, and less powerful than the rear. The M50 achieves a 48.2/51.8-percent front to rear weight distribution. It’s notable that the single motor eDrive40 is closer to 45/55.
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