The BMW M division is pushing toward electrification like the rest of the industry. M’s plan for its models includes building hybrids and pure EVs, and it’s the latter that BMW wants to highlight today. The M division has announced it has started testing its new drive and chassis control systems in a modified i4, which involves a quad-motor powertrain.
Each motor powers a wheel, giving the i4 test vehicle all-wheel drive and precise control over torque delivery. According to the automaker, the M xDrive quad-motor powertrain will allow the driver to experience “entirely new performance characteristics.” A short teaser video shows the test vehicle performing a (fake-looking) tank turn, likely teasing the car’s future capabilities.
The drive and chassis control systems calculate the needed power by using inputs like accelerator pedal position, steering angle, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, wheel speed, and other parameters. This ensures that the right amount of torque reaches each wheel for optimal performance. BMW M discovered one of the powertrain’s advantages within the first few kilometers of on-road testing, discovering that the car can achieve significantly higher cornering speeds.
BMW began powertrain development virtually before moving to test benches. Now, the company is ready for real-world testing of the hardware and software. The goal is to ensure that these models have the characteristics that have made BMW M so iconic for the last 50 years – “a linear build-up of drive power and lateral dynamics that permits controllable handling right up to the limits.”
BMW based the test vehicle on the i4 M50, but it does receive some modifications. The automaker widened the fenders in traditional M fashion. We don’t get to see the interior, but BMW says it packed it with measuring technology to capture every bit of driving data.
BMW hasn’t said when the powertrain would enter production as the company is working to ensure its EVs feel like an M car. The brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the electric the i7 M70 could follow as early as next year. However, we’ll be waiting for the first full-blown pure-electric M car to arrive.