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BMW i4 electric vehicle prototype revealed - and it can drift!

By Tom Fraser, 25 Jan 2021 Car News

BMW i4 electric vehicle prototype revealed - and it can drift!

BMW wants to prove you can expect sheer driving pleasure from its upcoming i4 electric sedan.

BMW is keen to prove its forthcoming i4 electric vehicle will stay true to the brand’s dynamic roots, revealing imagery of a prototype car sliding sideways around a track during final testing.

Final touches are being made to the BMW i4 which will sit under the BMW i electric vehicle sub-brand as its fourth fully-electric production model, following on from the i3 and i8 (plug-in hybrid) electric cars released in 2013.

When the i4 launches in just a few short months' time, it will join the iX3 electric crossover and iX electric SUV to form the second generation models of BMW i. 

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Production is expected to start in the second half of the year for European and North American customers, with an Australian launch likely in the first half of 2022. 

BMW Australia is remaining tight-lipped on the subject, with a spokesperson saying it's "too early to say" regarding a launch date or expected price.

That said, if BMW wants it to be competitive against established rivals such as the Tesla Model 3 then a $70K price tag is a must. We think the i4 is more likely to carry a six-figure price like the Audi E-tron GT.

"No mistakes in our EV strategy" says BMW

While the drifting flagship performance variant with its 390kW power output and 80kWh battery pack seems to be getting all the attention at the moment, it's likely BMW will introduce lesser-powered variants under the flagship - much like BMW 3 Series line, for example. 

Much of the i4’s camouflage has been stripped away in the lead-up to its launch, but we can see the design will partly take the form of a 4 Series Gran Coupe, combining that shape with attributes from the Concept i4. 

We know that the flagship i4 will pack 390kW, sprint from zero to 100km/h in four seconds, and stock an impressive 600km touring range.

BMW's challenge is to translate those figures into a car that can perform as well, dynamically, as the 4 Series Gran Coupe on which it's based.

Read next BMW iX electric SUV flagship revealed and ready to order

BMW says these final stages of dynamic calibration testing will see that the car’s suspension componentry and drivetrain’s ‘spontaneous’ power delivery operate in harmony.

Emphasis is placed on the electric i4’s ability to behave like BMWs of old, drawing upon BMW’s “decades of experience” to provide a unique driving character in the electric vehicle market.

Model-specific damping technology ensures the body doesn’t pitch backwards when accelerating and a wheel slip control system is said to provide optimum traction and stability no matter the surface underneath.

While the i4 looks set to stock a powerful electric powertrain just like every other high-end EV, BMW insists it’s not all about the straight line performance, in a subtle dig at other EV manufacturers.

“All electric vehicles are capable of fast straight-line acceleration. But that’s not enough for us at BMW,” says BMW i4 project lead David Ferrufino.

“For the first time, we’ve developed a BMW with sporty DNA for purely electric driving entirely from scratch. The BMW i4 offers everything BMW stands for – and it’s fully electric, too.”  

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Ferrufino can be seen in the video above sliding the i4 around a test track insisting that it’s as easy as placing two fingers on the wheel to hold a skid.  

A full model reveal is expected in Q2 2021, with the carmaker preparing its Munich factory for i4 production later this year.