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2021 BMW i4 revealed: New Tesla Model 3 and Audi e-tron GT rival unveiled early

The new BMW i4 is a critical new EV for the brand.

BMW has taken a crucial step in its electric car expansion, revealing its first battery-powered sports sedan - the i4. Unveiled earlier than expected as part of the brand’s annual media conference overnight, the new model will give the brand a rival to both the Tesla Model 3 and its own 4-Series Gran Coupe.

Previewed last year with the i4 Concept, the production version of the i4 has more in common with the petrol-powered 4-Series than the radical i3. That’s because BMW has high hopes of the i4 becoming a volume-selling model, not a niche part of the range, as EV sales look set to boom in Europe in the next decade.

“With its sporty looks, best in class driving dynamics and zero local emissions, the BMW i4 is a true BMW,” said BMW board member, Pieter Nota. “It makes the heart of the BMW brand now beat fully electric.”

BMW is saving a full reveal of the i4’s technical specifications until its official launch in the coming weeks, but they have teased some key numbers as well as confirming that there will be a range-topping M Performance variant.

The i4 M (as it’s tipped to be badged) is expected to offer up to 390kW of power, out-performing the latest M4 Competition which boasts 375kW from its 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine.

That’s likely to be a dual-motor, all-wheel drive set-up, but more powertrains are expected including a single-motor, rear-wheel drive layout that will be more affordable.

BMW has also revealed the i4 will have a maximum claimed range of approximately 590km, which puts it at the end of the pack. The Tesla Model 3 Long Range, for example, has a 568km claimed capacity.

While not official, it’s understood the i4 is built on the same underpinnings as the latest 3-Series and 4-Series models, with modifications to allow for the fittiment of the electric motors and battery pack. This is a departure for BMW, who built a bespoke EV platform for the i3 hatch, but allows for greater production flexibility and cuts development cost of the brand in the middle of growing its EV offerings.

Also coming soon from the brand as it expands its electric range are the iX3 and iX EV flagship.