BMW’s New Tesla Fighter Has a Very Controversial Feature

BMW is coming after Tesla with an angry cartoon beaver.

The future looks…odd. BMW has unveiled its Concept i4, a close-to-production-ready car the Bavarians describe as a “pure-electric Gran Coupé.” It’s BMW’s vision of the future, one of its first pure electric cars since the avant-garde (and now dated) i3.

The production form of the i4 will be the company’s Tesla Model 3 fighter, offering similar aerodynamic style, range and performance as Elon Musk’s mass-market sedan. Production of the Bimmer will begin in 2021.

The Concept i4 can put out up to 530 horsepower, accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, and achieve a top speed of 124 mph. BMW says it will deliver a 373-mile range under WLTP testing, which should translate to somewhere in the 270-mile range under EPA procedures. That said, the final figures next year may be different, so we’ll wait and see for ourselves before we offer our final judgement.

One distinctive feature we won’t reserve judgement on is the one that makes the Concept i4 so controversial: its enormous, unsightly vertical grille, which BMW terms “the eye-catching face of a new era.” To my eyes, it makes this BMW look like an angry cartoon beaver. Making it even more egregious: the electric Concept i4 does not need a functional grille at all, so this exists for…no practical reason.

BMW, for its part, says the grille serves as an “intelligence panel” housing sensors and “teases the technology behind the scenes.” BMW says the design will be exclusive to this model, but “expressive faces” have appeared prominently on other new BMW models and sporty concept cars. As with Lexus’s spindle grille, titanic BMW noses may be a thing from here forward.

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