BMW i4 vs. Audi e-tron GT: What on Earth Is Happening With BMW’s Design Team?

AUdi e-tron GT bs BMW i4 12 photos
Photo: Audi AG/BMW AG
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After Audi introduced the production version of its all-electric grand tourer a month ago, BMW also previewed its first electric sedan, the highly anticipated i4. While close to the e-tron GT in terms of power and range, design-wise, the Bavarian car falls short, and the gap is huge.
We can all agree that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but come on, let’s be honest here: the e-tron GT is a thing of beauty, while the i4 simply doesn’t rise to the same aesthetic level.

I’m not even going to get into further details about that controversial front end that the whole automotive press and even BMW fans have grilled (pun intended).

The automaker made it clear that this particular design feature is here to stay, and those who don’t like it should look elsewhere. In my opinion, Audi is the first manufacturer they should look at. Their designers have done a masterful job with the aggressive front ends of their recent models, and the e-tron GT takes that design language to the next level; just look at it!

AUdi e\-tron GT bs BMW i4
Photo: Audi AG / BMW AG
Moving on, as we analyze the i4’s design further, we can’t help but yawn because it’s extremely dull from just about every angle. It’s based on an ICE model, specifically the upcoming 4 Series Gran Coupe, but somehow manages to look worse.

From the side, the i4 looks more like a crossover, especially when compared to the e-tron GT. It’s also taller than the 4 Series GT, mainly because the chassis has to accommodate the large battery pack and still provide adequate legroom for the rear passengers.

Apart from the blue accents that extend from the front wheel arch all the way under the rear door, there is nothing new or interesting about the car’s profile.

AUdi e\-tron GT bs BMW i4
Photo: Audi AG / BMW AG
On the other hand, the e-tron GT has a lower, far more aggressive stance, mainly because it shares the Porsche Taycan’s underpinnings. It looks mean, muscular, aerodynamic, and the multitude of lines and shapes used blend flawlessly.

Another detail that stands out is the wheel design. Sure, designers are limited here because EVs need aerodynamic wheels, yet Audi’s team managed to make the most out of these limitations, and the end result is exquisite.

The i4’s wheels look dull, to say the least. The star shape design looks like it takes cues from a sixteen-century shield design rather than anything from present times. It’s almost as if the design team forgot about the wheels and hastily put together this version at the last minute.

AUdi e\-tron GT bs BMW i4
Photo: Audi AG / BMW AG
Moving on to the back of each EV, once again, it is not even close. The e-tron GT is wider, lower, and features a massive OLED lightbar that connects the two aggressively stylized taillights.

The i4’s back end (especially in white) reminds me of the back of a sneaker from the 1980s—and not a popular or innovatively designed one. Apart from the taillights, which are a nice touch, there’s really nothing to write home about; it’s just one giant blank space.

BMW hasn’t revealed many technical details for now, apart from a maximum estimated range of up to to 590 km (WLTP) and up to 300 miles (EPA), figures which are surely optimistic, and a power output of up to 390 kW (523 hp). Also, they stated that the i4 can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) in around 4 seconds.

In range-topping RS guise, the e-tron GT can spit out 440 kW (590 hp) and a maximum range of 472 km (293 miles) according to the NEDC cycle. It can accelerate from 0 to 0 mph (0-100 kph) in 3.3 seconds.

AUdi e\-tron GT
Photo: Audi AG
Add the 800-volt architecture, which enables faster charging times, to the equation, and the result is clear: the e-tron GT is the better EV from a technical perspective too. Of course, the BMW will probably be significantly more affordable than the e-tron GT which is a class above it.

So, considering that the i4 is not technically superior to the e-tron GT, BMW should have at least attempted to make their car more visually appealing, despite the limitations presented by the 3 Series/4 Series platform. Unfortunately, they have failed miserably, and frankly, I don’t see any reason why a sane person would choose the i4 over the e-tron GT—other than the lower price tag, obviously.

I’m just hoping that the Bavarian manufacturer’s design team is busy developing the next generation of BMW vehicles, and that explains why the i4 turned out to be so uninspired.

One thing’s for certain; they have to really step their game up if they want to be relevant in the luxury EV segment.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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