2021 BMW 4-Series

By March 11, 2021

The 2021 BMW 4-Series emerges from a redesign this year immediately recognizable, thanks to its controversial front end, but other changes abound as well. Other improvements include upgraded infotainment tech, a stiffer suspension, and massaged powertrains.

The base 430i opens the range with rear-wheel drive, an 8-speed automatic, and a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 255 horsepower. Expect 0-60 mph to take 5.5 seconds. All-wheel drive is available; the enhanced grip helps cut the 0-60 mph time to 5.3 seconds.

The step up is the M440i, which swaps out the turbo-4 for a 3.0-liter turbo-6 making 382 horsepower. Like the base model, rear-drive is standard and an 8-speed automatic handles gearchanges. The 0-60 mph run takes about 4.3 seconds.

The M4, due out in March 2021, is the top dog. It’s the only way to get a 6-speed manual in the 4-Series, though the 8-speed is available and will likely be the more popular transmission. The standard M4 makes 473 horsepower from a twin-turbo inline-6 displacing 3.0-liters; the Competition version ups the ante to 503 horsepower. Competition models aren’t available with the manual. All M4s are rear-wheel drive.

The EPA rates the 430i for 26 mpg city, 34 highway, 29 combined, or 24/33/27 mpg with all-wheel drive. The M440i is good for 22/31/25 mpg. The M4 is the thirstiest at 16/23/19 mpg.

The new 4-Series features standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitors. Adaptive cruise control is among the options, as is a semi-autonomous highway driving feature and an active parking assist function.

The 4-Series has not yet been crash-tested.

Model Lineup

At $46,595, the 430i hardtop coupe opens up the range. It gets standard synthetic leather upholstery, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, and parking sensors. A convertible version is available and starts at $54,095.

Moving into the $59,495 M440i buys the inline-6 engine as well as 19-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, better brakes, and some aero upgrades. It doesn’t offer any extra amenities versus the 430i. Once again a convertible variant is offered, but expect to pay about $8,000 more for the luxury of going topless.

The M4 is the top dog and starts at $72,795. It gets upgraded seats, adaptive dampers, unique trim inside and out, and a host of other upgrades that make it the performance all-star it is.

Exterior

Forget the engines, the performance, and the technology of the new 4-Series. What everyone is talking about is the styling—and specifically what BMW has done with the front end. It’s blunt, bold, and unabashedly unique. We’ll just say that something a little more tasteful may be more in line with the rest of the otherwise stylish body.

With that out of the way, we can move on to the rest of the redesigned body. The 4’s haunches are taut and muscular; the roofline arcs back with that classic lusty rake that has defined all manner of sporty coupes. From the rear three-quarters, the new 4-Series is attractive and purposeful.

The M4 stands apart with its unique front grille and a well-defined rear diffuser pockmarked by the quad exhaust tips poking out.

Interior

The interior of the latest 4-Series doesn’t push the envelope, but did it need to? We always found BMW interiors to be stylish, and the 4-Series doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Build quality is as good as it’s ever been, and the materials and trims are top-notch.

What BMW did improve on was the touchscreen, which measures 8.8 inches and features the latest iteration of iDrive, BMW’s longtime infotainment software. We’re happy to report that it works incredibly well, thanks to logical menus and a quick, seamless interface. Wireless smartphone compatibility is a boon as well.

The 4-Series features excellent seats with plenty of adjustment. You don’t sit too low, as you might in some sporty coupes, but neither do you tower over the steering wheel. It’s a just-right position that encourages the sort of spirited driving or long cruising a coupe might be used for.

The back seat is actually usable. Its leg room of 35 inches is downright generous in a segment where back seats are often as painful to fold into as a cramped third row. We still would recommend a four-door if you need to regularly tote more than one passenger, but the 4-Series will happily swallow four people if necessary.

The trunk on coupes holds 12 cubic feet; on convertibles, 9 cubes. These figures are about right for this type of car.

Driving Impressions

The beauty of the 4-Series has always been its versatility. The new model is no exception: It behaves like a sport coupe or a commuter depending on your mood. The car has the breadth of suspension, poise, and power to convincingly imitate those disparate personalities; all you have to do is twist into the right drive mode.

Other than a dearth of steering feel, we were happy with the crisp turn-in and the neutral balance in corners. It has additional rigidity compared to the related 3-Series sedan, and that didn’t go unnoticed in our testing.

The M440i and M4 models go one further with their limited-slip differential, upgraded brakes, and stiffer suspension tunes. The M4 also features adaptive dampers. These enhancements push the 4-Series closer to the sports car side of the spectrum—especially for the M4—but without sacrificing everyday comfort. The M440i still has a composed ride that won’t punish you on the commute.

The base turbo-4 430i will likely be the most popular engine, and we can see why. It’s plenty quick for most people, and it doesn’t suffer from any coarseness. It’s a proper luxury coupe, and we don’t see the need for most buyers to pay an extra $15,000 or so for the M440i.

That said, if you have that kind of coin, we say go ahead and spend it. The M440i delivers its power in that telltale creamy fashion so specific to BMW inline-6 engines; it feels effortless as the turbos spool and revs build. It’s a symphonic performance, aided by an excellent 8-speed transmission that delivers perfect shifts every time.

Final Word

The 2021 BMW 4-Series drives wonderfully and has an excellent assortment of available technology. It’s comfortable, roomy, and usable in a way many coupes aren’t. If you can look past the controversial new grille, the latest 4-Series should prove hard to beat among the few remaining luxury compact coupes. We’d get ours as a M440i if our budget allowed, but otherwise the 430i is an excellent choice for a daily driver.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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