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2019 New and Future Cars: BMW

i4, 8 Series, Z4, i8 Roadster

Could this be the electric replacement for the 3 Series? BMW's i4 will be a version of the i Vision Dynamics concept shown at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show. Although the production model hasn't broken cover, we expect it to closely follow the concept's 4 Series Gran Coupe lines, perhaps with a modern take on BMW's trademark kidney grille. A source inside BMW indicates three powertrains in a good-better-best approach, possibly labeled Standard, Sport, and Supersport.

We expect the Standard powertrain to employ a 134-hp motor for the front wheels and a 214-hp motor for the rear, while the Supersport will feature one motor for each of the rear wheels. Range is rumored to be well in excess of 300 miles, but that remains to be seen. If the future does turn out to be electric, this 3 Series-sized EV could become BMW's volume seller.

Although it won't be a volume car, BMW has big plans for the return of the 8 Series, with the first version set to make its debut later this year. BMW will lead with the big guns, launching the M850i with a 523-hp version of its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. A less powerful 840i might follow, along with an M8 variant at some point. The new 8 will premiere as a two-door coupe; convertible and four-door Gran Coupe versions come later. We recently drove an M850i prototype and came away impressed—not just by the driving dynamics, which are notably better than the latest crop of BMWs, but also by the way the car's electronic systems mimic the mechanical feel of the original E31 8 Series. Pricing should start at around $100,000 and go up, up, up from there.

Refilling a niche is the next-generation Z4, which makes its debut early next year as a softtop roadster. Although it's being developed in conjunction with Toyota, which will offer a hardtop coupe as the new Supra, the Z4 bears the stamp of its Bavarian origin, and our drive of a prototype M40i showed more sporting character than the previous-gen boulevard cruiser. The top-spec M40i will get a 382-hp straight-six, and we expect lower trims to get BMW's venerable 2.0-liter turbo-four. Pricing will start around $50,000, rising into the high 60s for the M40i.

Speaking of convertibles and niches, BMW has done a little roof hacking to give us the i8 Roadster. The powertrain is largely unchanged from the i8 Coupe, but the flying-buttress styling gives it a unique look. The convertible has a cloth roof with a vestigial rear window that can be lowered independently of the top. The whole mechanism adds a mere 132 pounds to the i8 Coupe's curb weight.

On sale:
i4: 2021
8 Series: Late 2018
Z4: Spring 2019
i8 Roadster: Late 2018

Base price:
i4: $75,000 (est)
8 Series: $100,000 (est)
Z4: $50,000 (est)
i8 Roadster: $164,295