The BMW i4 M50 and iX M60 may carry the M badge but are not full-blown BMW M cars. Rest assured, the first proper M car with all-electric propulsion is coming, the automaker's performance division has confirmed.
Exactly 50 years after its creation, BMW M has started testing a so-called concept test vehicle fitted with a quad-motor powertrain. Based on the BMW i4 M50, the concept features four electric motors that offer four-wheel drive and an integrated driving dynamics control system. Together, these are said to provide "an unprecedented level of performance and experience."
A team of developers from various disciplines is now putting to test the hardware and software solutions designed for future fully electric high-performance cars from BMW M.
BMW i4 M50-based body with modifications from the M3 and M4
The concept test vehicle features a BMW M-style modified body, with the wide wheel arches allowing the integration of purpose-built, high-performance front and rear axle designs. At the front, the vehicle features an an adapted body strut concept taken from the current BMW M3/M4 series for particularly high torsional rigidity, with the arrangement of the radiators also based on the M3/M4 configuration.
At the heart of the concept test vehicle is the M xDrive four-wheel drive system with four electric motors, which is now making its debut on the road. As we've already seen on the Rivian R1T and R1S, having each wheel driven by an electric motor opens up completely new possibilities, with BMW saying it allows for "infinitely variable, extremely precise and at the same time very fast distribution of drive torque."
BMW M says the power and torque of the instantly reacting electric motors is a game changer for high-performance EVs. For example, the ideal power transmission to the road is calculated by the central control unit within milliseconds from the values for the accelerator pedal position, steering angle, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, wheel speeds and other parameters.
The signals are then transmitted just as quickly and directly via a multi-plate clutch and differentials to the four motors, which are able to implement them immediately and precisely.
Typical BMW M driving characteristics taken to the next level
BMW has already tested this form of vehicle dynamics and drive control on virtual models and test benches, but road testing will provide a completely realistic application of the hardware and software developed for this purpose.
BMW M says its future high-performance models will retain typical brand characteristics such as "a linear build-up of drive power and lateral dynamics that permits controllable handling right up to the limits." But the first signs show they will take those attributes to a whole new level.
After the first miles in the concept test vehicle, BMW drivers achieved significantly higher cornering speeds, even on rain-soaked or snow-covered roads. In these cases, the vehicle steers effortlessly and with no tendency to understeer, as the drive torque for the outside rear wheel has already been increased parallel to the steering angle.
Furthermore, the high-performance character of the new drive system is also obvious in the recuperation of braking energy. When braking before a bend, the four motors can assume the function of a generator, for example, and feed electricity back into the high-voltage battery. The concept test car is even able to do a tank turn, as you can see in the above video—even though CGI seems to be the main driving force behind that specific maneuver.
BMW did not offer any specifications or launch timeline for its first all-electric, full-blown M cars.
Source: BMW M