June 7, 2021 auto

BMW gets all charged up with 'revolutionary' new i4 and iX electric models


BMW is continuing its foray into the future with a pair of new, built-from-the-tyre-treads-up models: the i4 and the iX.

A quick glance at the pictures will tell you what you need to know regarding what to expect – one is a sedan, the other an SUV. And they’re both fully electric, which is a first for Beemer.

The main point is these new vehicles have, the manufacturer says, been made with sustainability in mind. The car maker's materials division apparently set targets on parts procurement and sourcing before the project started, and it has worked with suppliers to try and ensure those goals were met.

All very noble, but what of the new shiny metal, though?

The i4 is a four-door gran coupe that combines “hallmark spaciousness and practicality with the sporting ability for which BMW is renowned, and a range that also convinces over long journeys”.

All very good, but that last bit is important, as the amount of distance you can get out of a single charge is still paramount to those toying with a non-fossil-fuel-powered vehicle.

Two models will be available – the M50 and the iDrive40 – and both are closely related to the petrol-powered 4 Series coupe. The main difference between these two is the latter is rear-wheel drive and a little slower. You do get more distance out of it, though, with the first running to 510 kilometres, and the second managing 590km.

Power-wise, the M50 has 400 kilowatts (or 544 horsepower) to play with, and the iDrive 40 has 250kW (340hp). The faster of the two can get to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.9 seconds, with its stablemate managing the same in 5.7 seconds.

Styling points include that sizeable kidney grille BMW seems keen on these days (despite the fact the power plant does not actually need cooling), plus swept-back headlights and those distinctly eye-like LED daytime running lamps (or DRLs, for those who like an acronym).

The i4 is expected to go on sale in November. Prices start at about $56,000 for the eDrive40 and $66,895 for the M50.

What about that SUV, then? Well, the iX is based on the Vision iNext concept vehicle that BMW unveiled in 2018. And, like the i4, there are two distinct versions, coming in the shape of the M60 and the xDrive50.

The manufacturer says this one is based on “a new toolkit for the future, whose vast potential for innovations in the areas of automated driving, operation, connectivity and digital services translates into a premium mobility experience unparalleled in this segment”.

Impressive-sounding again, and there is that distinct emphasis that innovation is key here.

The M60 will have a range of 630km and the XDrive50 425km, and it’s the same story with the i4 when it comes to variations in power. The xDrive50 can produce 385kW (523hp), the M60 440kW (600hp). The first of these will be able to hit 100kph from a standing start in 4.6 seconds, but BMW is being a little coy about what the more powerful variant can achieve. This is probably because of its later release date.

The iX definitely has the look of a BMW SUV. At a quick glance, you could easily be looking at an X7, though from certain angles it has a touch of the Range Rover Evoque.

The iX M60 is available early in 2022, with the XDrive50 set for a November launch, like the i4. Prices start at about $84,000 for the XDrive50 and, while what you’ll have to pay for the M60 is yet to be confirmed, commentators are suggesting a starting figure will be around the $95,000 mark.

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