BMW has said that it wants its incoming i4 electric vehicle (EV) saloon to handle like a true Beemer, and is putting the zero-emissions four-door through its dynamic paces in development to ensure it can deliver on that noble aim.
Fast but fluid
The i4 has to drive like a 3 Series or 4 Series, despite its EV drivetrain, and in the months prior to its world premiere the machine is completing the final phase of its testing. Here, BMW's engineers are trying to blend controllable handling, invigorating cornering dynamics, optimised traction and balanced ride comfort, in all conditions, into one package.
No small task, as the i4, which is capable of up to 600km on a single charge, will have a maximum 390kW (530hp) drivetrain, allowing it to hit 100km/h from rest in four seconds precisely - so it's a powerful machine, and power can disrupt chassis harmony if not carefully calibrated. Nevertheless, model-specific dampers are said to reduce squat when the i4 is fully lit, while a wheel-slip limitation programme called ARB is claimed to 'guarantee' optimum traction and straight-line stability at all times, even on slippery surfaces. This means owners should be able to use the i4's full acceleration power, without it deviating off course or slipping its wheels.
Nevertheless, a video released by the company shows that the i4 looks to be pretty decent in the corners. It'll drift quite easily, if that's what you want an EV saloon to do on the roads (ahem!), but it's also agile and it seems to ride the bumps quite well, watching it go through its torsional rigidity tests. BMW even goes so far as to say that with its virtually silent drive manners and carefully tuned suspension, the i4 gives the impressions of 'effortlessly floating' when it's travelling along at high speeds.
'Straight-line acceleration not enough for us'
David Alfredo Ferrufino Camacho, the project manager for the i4, said: "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. Further, the i4 conveys the feeling of being light and agile yet also solid and authoritative. With its superior directional reliability and high level of cornering stability, it seems to literally attach itself to the road. All electric vehicles are capable of fast straight-line acceleration. But that's not enough for us at BMW."
If you want to watch Camacho talking you through how the i4 is being calibrated as it goes through final shakedowns, then good news - you can watch a video on the subject right here.