The U.S. model lineup for the BMW i4 and iX has been announced, and it includes an additional, previously-undisclosed M Performance version of the i4. BMW says an M Performance iX is also coming, but for now, the automaker’s latest electrified models are the iX xDrive50, the i4 eDrive40, and the i4 M50. The market launch for all three is expected to occur during the first quarter of 2021, and production of the necessary drivetrain components has already begun at BMW Group Plants Dingolfing, Leipzig, and Regensburg. Production of the models themselves is taking place in Munich and Dingolfing, and the energy used to build BMW’s newest electric vehicles is sourced from local hydropower generating stations.
The BMW i4 M50 is the model that has everyone’s attention, and that’s because it marks the entrance of the i sub-brand into the world of M, and gives the G80 M3 a run for its money. While the i4 eDrive40 has a single fifth-generation BMW eDrive electric motor powering the rear wheels, the i4 M50 has another unit for the front axle. BMW rates the i4 M50’s rear motor at 308 horsepower from 8,000 to 17,000 rpm, while unit for the front axle is rated at 255 horsepower over the same range. BMW hasn’t published the individual torque figures, but combined output of 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque allow the i4 M50 to hit 62 mph (100 kmh) from a dead stop in 3.9 seconds, and to achieve a top speed of 140 mph. The power figures lineup closely with those first divulged back in 2019.
The battery used in the both models of the i4 is rated at 83.9 kWh gross capacity 81.5 net. This gives the M50 a preliminary EPA range of up to 245 miles and the eDrive40 a range of up to 300. The batteries are made up of four floor-mounted modules each containing 72 cells, which use NMC-811 technology. according to BMW, the floor-mounted battery modules give the i4 eDrive a center of gravity that’s 2.1 inches lower than that of the 3 Series sedan, or 1.3 inches lower for the i4 M50. Thanks to its dual motor setup, the M50 boasts 48.1/51.9 front/rear weight distribution compared with the eDrive40’s 45.1/54.9. Many of the individual dimensions of the two model variants are identical, including length, width, height, wheelbase, ground clearance, and turning radius, but the M50 uses a faster steering rack, has narrower front and rack tracks, and a slightly higher drag coefficient. More details of the i4 eDrive40 can be found here.
The i4 M50 comes with adaptive M suspension, M Sport brakes, and M light-alloy wheels measuring up to twenty inches in diameter. The launch color, equipment, and performance make for the inevitable G80 M3 comparison. BMW has not divulged the weight of either version of the i4 yet, but the zero-to-100 kmh time of 3.9 seconds places it directly in line with the rear-wheel-drive G80 M3 Competition, which BMW rates at the same number, ahead of the six-speed G80 M8 which can do it in 4.2 seconds, and behind the G80 M3 Competition with xDrive, which is rated at 3.5 seconds.
BMW has deviated somewhat from the interior of the Concept i4 which debuted last year, but the same basic underlying shape and form remain. The basics are largely shared with the G20 3 Series and G22 4 Series, but with the BMW i brand’s signature blue color scheme applied to key areas such as the start/stop button, the shifter, and the roundel on the steering wheel. BMW’s next-generation infotainment system, iDrive 8, takes center stage, and stands as a direct indicator BMW and the i4’s dedication to technology. The BMW i4 is said to capable of level two autonomous operation and both it and the iX use BMW’s nano-particle cabin-air filters.
The same day that BMW announced the U.S. i4 model lineup, the same was done for the iX, which has now assumed the crown of BMW’s technological flagship. Many of the details have already been public knowledge since March, but in addition to the iX xDrive50, BMW has also announced that an M Performance variant, called the iX M60, with more than 600 horsepower, is also planned.
The iX xDrive50 is anticipated to have its market introduction during the first quarter of 2022, and its specifications include a front motor producing 268 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and a rear motor producing 335 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, for combined output of 516 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque. BMW assigns a preliminary zero-to-100 kmh (62 mph) time of 4.6 seconds to the mode, and a top speed of 124 mph. A preliminary EPA range of 300 miles comes courtesy of the battery which has a gross capacity rating of 111.5 kWh and a net rating of 106.3. We took a deeper look into the design of the iX last November.
The iX xDrive50 has a starting MSRP of $83,200, plus $955 for destination. The i4 eDrive40 starts at $55,400, while the i4 M50 starts at $65,900. Both models are scheduled to go on sale during the first quarter of next year.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]