BMW i4 challenges Tesla Model 3 with 367 mile range

BMW has fully detailed the production version of its new i4 electric saloon, promising up to 536bhp from an M-badged variant and a maximum range of 367 miles.

Based on a specially adapted version of the 3 Series’ CLAR architecture, the i4 is aimed at the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3, but in top-spec M50 form it will offer performance that rivals the Porsche Taycan and Audi E-tron GT.

It will be available initially in rear-driven 335bhp eDrive40 and 536bhp M50 xDrive forms. The M50 employs a 255bhp motor on the front axle and a 308bhp motor on the rear axle. Combined torque is put at 586lb ft, compared with 317lb ft for the eDrive40.

The M50 also gets a unique Sport Boost function that can be used to liberate the full power output for around 10 seconds when driven in Sport mode. With this activated, the M50 can do 0-62mph in 3.9sec. The eDrive40 can complete the same sprint in 5.7sec.

The i4 stores its reserves in a floor-mounted 80.7kWh lithium ion battery pack, which is claimed to be 30% more power-dense than that used by today’s i3 supermini.

It can charge at rates of up to 210kW to gain up to 102 miles of range in just 10 minutes. What’s more, adjustable regenerative braking can top up the battery at rates of up to 195kW in the M50 and 116kW in the eDrive40.

Depending on tyre size and other options specified, official WLTP range is put at between 255 and 367 miles.

At 4785mm long, 1852mm wide and 1448mm tall, the i4 has similar dimensions to the 3 Series, which development boss Frank Weber highlights as crucial to its appeal.

He explained: “There will be 3 Series customers, but the i4 is also attractive because of its loading abilities and the space inside, which will also attract potential 5 Series customers – people who are looking for a sporty sedan. We’ve chosen for a good reason the exact space of the i4.”

Both i4 models are equipped with lift-related suspension dampers and rear air springs, while the M50’s performance-oriented chassis gains adaptive dampers, anti-roll bars and variable-ratio sport steering.

To further differentiate the M50 from the eDrive40, it gains performance-inspired design cues similar to BMW’s ICE sports cars. Extra intakes and contrasting trim at the front, together with the subtle rear spoiler, promote a more aggressive stance, while the mirrors, rear apron, sills and rear bumper are gloss black.

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Inside, the i4 aims to offer “a richly involving driving experience”. There’s a free-standing 12.3in infotainment screen running BMW’s eighth-generation iDrive system, plus a 14.9in curved digital dial display, standard sports seats and blue accents throughout as nods to the car’s electric underpinnings. Three-zone automatic climate control is standard and ventilated seats are an option for both rows.

Taking into account the difference between the X3 and iX3, we expect the i4 to command a significant premium over its upcoming ICE-powered 4 Series Gran Coupé sibling. Customer deliveries start in November.