A quad-motor-powered i4 M50, developed by BMW M, could be just around the corner, following confirmation from the Bavarian brand that a prototype is currently undergoing a test program.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its performance-focused M division in 2022, and to successfully showcase “the essence of the letter M into the world of locally emission-free mobility” as part of the brand’s transition to electrification, BMW has already revealed the M4 CSL – M division’s answer to the Porsche 911 GT3 – as well as the all-electric i4 M50 and iX M60. A similarly dynamic i7 M70, the first BMW M vehicle to be based on an all-electric luxury sedan, is also set to follow next year.
The i4 M50, itself the first fully-electric model to come from BMW M GmbH, features twin electric motors and produces a combined 536 hp – 255 hp at the front, 308 hp at the back – and 586 lb-ft of torque, and is the base for the latest concept test vehicle. The new concept, pictured above, features four electric motors – one per wheel – as BMW investigates the potential for future, road-going all-electric ‘M’ cars, and has already undergone introductory tests of the drive and chassis control systems.
The modified body features wider wheel arches, front and rear, to incorporate bespoke, high-performance axles, while the front is an adapted an adapted body strut concept lifted from the M3/M4 (hence the open grille). Higher-grade radiators have also been mounted on the four-door coupe test model.
The key component though is the ‘M xDrive’ four-wheel drive system, which makes its debut on the test mule, and which, BMW claims, “opens up completely new possibilities for infinitely variable, extremely precise and at the same time very fast distribution of drive torque.” The brand even goes so far as to claim that the potential speed with which power and torque could be simultaneously delivered would be “unattainable” with a conventional drivetrain.
“Electrification opens up completely new degrees of freedom for us to create M-typical dynamics,” BMW M head of development Dirk Häcker explains. “And we can already see that we can exploit this potential to the maximum, so that our high-performance sports cars will continue to offer the M-typical and incomparable combination of dynamics, agility and precision in the locally emission-free future.”
Though potential performance figures have, of course, not been released, its been speculated that the 81.5 kWh (83.9) battery currently used by the production i4 M50 in Canada could be swapped out for the 106.3 kWh (111.5 gross) used in the iX M60. Whether the new ‘M-developed i4 will sit atop the same CLAR chassis as the i4 or indeed match the 385 km estimated range is unclear – BMW does admittedly highlight the benefit four motors would have on regenerative braking – though it’s likely the test model will eventually undercut the M50’s 3.9-second 0-100 km/h sprint time.