Tesla Model 3 rival breaks cover with hi-po M50 flagship, up to 590km of range, and a twin-screen interior with BMW's latest software.
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The 2022 BMW i4 has been officially unveiled, ahead of its Australian launch in the first quarter of 2022 (January to March inclusive).

Following the release of the first images and a handful of key statistics in late March, BMW has handed down full details of its rival for the Tesla Model 3 and soon-for-Australia Polestar 2 sedans, confirming the i4 will be offered with a choice of two electric powertrain options at launch – including one fettled by BMW's hallowed M division.

Opening the range at launch is the i4 eDrive40, pairing one electric motor on the rear axle with an 80.7kWh (net) lithium-ion battery to develop 250kW and 430Nm, and sprinting to 100km/h from a standstill in 5.7 seconds.

It's the entry-level car that can travel the furthest on a single charge, with BMW quoting a 590km figure according to Europe's WLTP test cycle – down 24km on the all-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 Long Range's 614km claim, but up 148km over the entry-level, rear-drive 239kW Model 3 Standard Range Plus.

Above: BMW i4 M50 (blue). BMW i4 eDrive40 pictured elsewhere in white.

Sitting atop the range will be the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive i4 M50, which despite featuring a name typical of BMW's mid-tier M340i and M440i performance cars, packs a punch that promises to put the full-bore M3 and M4 duo on notice.

Outputs increase to 350kW and 730Nm in normal driving, thanks to dual electric motors and the same 80.7kWh battery, rising to 400kW and 795Nm in 10-second 'Sport Boost' periods – eclipsing the 375kW/650Nm extracted from the latest M3 Competition's 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six.

The 0-100km/h sprint time falls to 3.9 seconds in the Launch Control-equipped M50 (with top speed limited to 225km/h), though range also takes a hit, dropping to 510km. Both figures trail the Model 3 Performance's 3.3-second benchmark dash and 567km WLTP range claim, however.

Its 200kW DC fast charging enables a 10 to 80 per cent recharge in 31 minutes, while an 11kW AC home wallbox will fill the pack up from empty to full in under 8.5 hours.

Under the skin, BMW claims the i4 sits on a "flexible vehicle architecture conceived from the outset for a purely electric drive system", featuring additional body stiffening and bespoke suspension geometry to support the high-voltage battery under the floor, and enable a 53mm-lower centre of gravity than the 3 Series sedan.

Rear air suspension and a trick wheel-slip limitation system shared with BMW's other latest models come standard. An adaptive regenerative braking system uses navigation data to tailor the level of recuperation depending on the driving situation, with up to 195kW of recovery available in the M50.

M50-specific chassis smarts include adaptive M dampers, variable sports steering, M Sport brakes (with four-piston calipers and 374mm discs up front), and light alloy wheels up to 20 inches in diameter (wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber).

On the styling front, the i4 shares much of its styling with the wider combustion-powered 4 Series family – including the five-door Gran Coupe, with which the i4 will share much of its sheetmetal – headlined by a bold, if controversial pair of 'coffin' grilles.

Flush-faced door handles and simple surfacing feature along the side, while the rear scores thin LED tail-lights crossing into the liftback-style tailgate. The drag coefficient is rated at 0.24Cd.

Differentiating the M50 from the lesser eDrive40 are revised front and rear bumper designs – the former featuring a similar design to the regular 4 Series, equipped with the M Sport package – plus a rear lip spoiler, black trim and BMW M's signature aerodynamic mirrors.

If that's not aggressive enough for you, M50 buyers can option an M Carbon exterior design package, plus an array of M Performance Parts which will likely be detailed in full in the coming days.

Inside, the twin-screen dashboard layout debuted in the iX electric SUV features inside the new i4, integrating a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen into one curved unit, running BMW's latest iDrive 8 software.

Highlights of the system include 5G connectivity, over-the-air updates, an array of customisable driver profiles with built-in artificial intelligence memory, a 'Hey BMW' voice assistant, and a satellite navigation system integrating charging station locations into the driver's selected route.

Much of the lower dashboard is shared with the petrol-powered 4 Series, however, from the conventional gear selector unit, to the physical shortcut buttons for drive modes and other key functions that sit beside it.

M sports seats replace the regular model's pews inside the M50, with other M-specific touches including an M Sport steering wheel with tri-colour stitching, and carbon-fibre-look trim inlays. There's also a model-specific driving sound created in collaboration with film composer Hans Zimmer.

470 litres of boot space sits behind the rear seats, expanding to 1290 litres with the second row folded.

Available interior features include seat heating and ventilation, a tilt/slide sunroof, ambient cabin lighting, 16-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, and up to 40 driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-following assist, automatic parking and speed limit assist.

The 2022 BMW i4 will go on sale in Australia in the first quarter of 2022. Local pricing and specifications will be announced closer to launch, though buyers can now pre-order the vehicle through BMW Australia's website.