BMW has officially confirmed an M-badged electric performance model will be unveiled this year, bringing a “completely new manifestation of the distinctive M feeling”.
In a release detailing BMW M’s 2020 sales performance, it's said that M boss Markus Flasch “looks forward” to “presenting an electrically powered performance automobile for the first time”. Autocar understands this will be an M-badged variant of the forthcoming BMW i4 electric saloon.
However, unlike the soon-to-arrive 2021 M3 and M4, the i4 M is believed to be an ‘M-lite’ model rather than a fully fledged M product, like the current M340i.
The standard i4 is expected to be unveiled in final production form in the coming months before going on sale right at the end of the year.
BMW confirmed back in 2019 that the Tesla Model 3 rival would be available with a 523bhp powertrain, enough for a 0-62mph time of around 4.0sec and a (likely limited) 125mph top speed. A range of more than 370 miles was originally promised, too.
That would give it the necessary firepower to easily take on a Model 3 in Long Range guise – but despite having more power than the 483bhp Model 3 Performance, it would fall a bit short of that car’s quoted 0-62 time of 3.1sec. That's likely intentional, leaving the door open for a future full-fat M version of the i4.
Also on the cars, Autocar understands, is an M performance version of the electric iX SUV. Details of that have yet to be confirmed, but expect a similar motor output if that materialises.
M managed to buck the global, pandemic-induced trend for a decline in new car sales with a record number of its models registered in 2020. A total of 144,218 models found homes, a 6% increase on 2019.
BMW cites the strong mix of M Performance variants in cars such as the new 3 Series and 4 Series, as well as the popularity of the latest X5 M SUV and the critically acclaimed M2 CS coupé.