AC Schnitzer has tuned the BMW i4... kind of | Top Gear
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Saturday 3rd December
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AC Schnitzer has tuned the BMW i4... kind of

Suspension and aero bits only, we’re afraid. But then power is hardly the i4’s weak point

Published: 30 Aug 2022
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Here’s a bit of a new conundrum: how do we tune electric cars?

The obvious answer is to dive into the software and ask for more watts than a Rolling Stones drum solo, but motors have very definite operating windows and batteries have hard limits on how much power they can feed to the motors in the first place. To change either of those things is to change the drivetrain entirely... which is about where tuning ends and modding begins.

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That seems to be the hard place that AC Schnitzer has rocked up to as well. But, of course, adding power isn’t the be all and end all of car tuning. And if EV drivetrain tuning isn’t a thing, it’s time for suspension do the heavy lifting, and aero to do the... heavy, um, putting back down again.

So Schnitzer’s tuned i4 rides an inch lower than standard and the best part of an inch wider, while various aero elements – such as that front splitter and winglets – ‘significantly improve the handling characteristics and ensure optimum driving values through increased downforce’. Just how significant appears to be a trade secret at this stage, but it’s a rare fish that wouldn’t welcome even a token improvement in front-end grip.

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BMW i4

Of course, it wouldn’t be an aftermarket-tuned car without changing the wheels and tyres. And you’ll be unsurprised to find that AC Schnitzer opted for a staggered set – 265mm section width at the rear and 255m up front – nor that their bigger offset increases the front and rear track by 10mm. Pushing the wheels further out generally means better lateral stability – case in point, F1 cars – but how much improvement that’ll grant over a standard i4 is anyone’s guess at this point.

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And yes, changing the wheel offset does mean changing the suspension geometry, which can cause some very interesting results (ask us how we know), but you can rest assured in this case – the new springs and shocks are set up for the new wheels. And if you want to keep the standard i4 wheels, you’ll need spacers to bring the scrub radius and so on back in line.

So for now, at least, this looks to be how we tune electric cars. The answer to a very new question seems to be entirely old-school. 

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