BMW just semi-revealed its first-ever electric sedan — the BMW i4 — to the world early this morning. I say semi-revealed because there were only a few photos released and about half of the total car’s specs. From what’s been released, we can still do some photo comparisons, though, so you know we’re going to. And we’re going to start off with what we think is the most dangerous i4 competitor, in terms of styling, and that’s the Audi e-tron GT. We did this comparison back when the i4 was just a concept but now that it’s finally revealed, we’re revisiting it.
Only the top-end BMW i4 will actually compete with the e-tron GT, as the latter car is going to be around $100,000 at its lowest point. The highest-spec i4 will probably sniff a six-figure price tag, so with some fudging, they can compete with each other. However, styling must be compared because the two cars are similar in size, both are four-door “coupes”, and both are high-performance electric four-doors with all-wheel drive.
From the front, it’s a pretty easy victory for the Audi e-tron GT. Its front end is low, wide, and very aggressive. By comparison, the i4’s upright grille and smooth headlights almost give it a bubbly crossover look. Audi has cleverly integrated its Singleframe grille design into the car by sort of removing it altogether but playing with two-tone colors to remind you of where it used to be. While BMW has stuck its massive kidney grille right onto the front of the i4, with almost no regard to the rest of the styling around it.
In profile, the Audi e-tron GT wins again. It’s low, it’s sleek, and it’s muscular. It looks as if the sheet metal is shrink-wrapped around a muscular frame, looking like a well-toned athlete. The BMW i4 is slab-sided, seems shockingly tall by comparison, and is more reminiscent of a BMW X4 than a four-door version of the 4 Series Coupe. Both have aerodynamic star-shaped wheels but Audi’s are more visually interesting.
Out back, Audi takes the win again and it’s starting to feel a bit mean. There are almost no design cues at the back of the i4 to speak of. Especially in white, it just looks like a void with taillights. While the Audi e-tron GT gets a massive, dramatic OLED lightbar that spans the entirety of its rear end. Additionally, from the back, you can see the muscular rear haunches flaring out, giving it immense presence. The Audi is so more more muscular and aggressive, compared to the minimalist, frankly boring BMW i4.
There is no question — the Audi e-tron GT is the far superior looking car. It’s low, lean, and muscularly, without an ounce fat on it. It also has a natural advantage, being built on a bespoke EV platform, so Audi was able design such gorgeous muscularity without needing to work around certain structural points of a chassis designed for gas engines.
The BMW i4 is built on the 4 Series Gran Coupe and it shows by not having any of the design or packaging advantages that pure EVs have. Which isn’t an excuse for the BMW i4, though it is an excuse for the designers, because it was BMW execs that made the decision to stick with a shared architecture.
In the end, though, there’s really no comparison. The Audi e-tron GT wipes the floor with the BMW i4, in a landslide victory.