BMW has revealed the second generation of its 4 Series, a compact coupe that promises to be lighter, more powerful and better differentiated from the 3 Series sedan than its predecessor.
Redesigned look: with that polarizing front grill
When they go on sale late this year, the 430i and M440i will stand apart better thanks to their bolder styling, which revolves around a new interpretation of the brand’s twin-kidney grille.
On the new 4 Series, the grille openings are taller and flanked by large secondary air inlets under the headlights. The look owes a lot to the 4 Series concept BMW showed in the fall at the Frankfurt auto show, albeit with certain design elements toned down for production.
If you’re shopping for a first-generation 4 Series, check out our 2018 430i Gran Coupe review here.
New engines: more horsepower
The mainstay of the 2021 BMW 4 Series range will be the four-cylinder 430i in rear-wheel drive and xDrive AWD variants. Set to reach the market in the fall, the 430i uses a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine similar to that of its predecessor. Despite the design similarities, the new engine makes an extra 7 hp and 36 lb-ft of torque, for new totals of 255 hp and 294 lb-ft.
The powertrain in the 2021 BMW M440i is built around a 3.0L turbo inline six-cylinder engine whose 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque mark increases of 62 hp and 39 lb-ft compared to the old BMW 440i. The M440i also introduces 4 Series buyers to BMW’s 48-volt mild hybrid system. It uses a starter/generator connected to a battery pack that recuperates energy during braking and deceleration. That electricity can be used to add 11 hp during peak acceleration, or power the car’s electrical system and reduce engine load and fuel consumption.
The 48-volt system also allowed BMW to tweak the 4 Series’ fuel-saving auto engine stop/start system, allowing the engine to shut down earlier and restart with less vibration.
Regardless of engine and drive type, all 4 Series models will be standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, marking the first time BMW won’t offer a manual transmission in the 4 Series.
4301 vs 430i xDrive vs M440i xDrive: Key differentiating performance specs:
|430i||430i xDrive||M440i xDrive|
|Horsepower||255 @ 5,000 – 6,500||255 @ 5,000 – 6,500||382 @ 5,800 – 6,500|
|Torque||294 @ 1,550 – 4,400||294 @ 1,550 – 4,400||364 @ 1,800 – 5,000|
Lighter materials, tighter suspension
BMW says the 430i’s weight savings come from the use of aluminum in the doors, hood and fenders, as well as some structural elements. That helps lower the car’s centre of gravity by 0.9 inches/21 mm, promising sharper handling to which firmer springs and dampers and thicker roll bars will also contribute. The suspension (which boasts less unsprung weight) lowers the 4 Series’ ride height by 0.4 inches (10 mm) relative to its 3 Series sibling.
The 430i rides on 18-inch wheels and tires that frame vented brake rotors and floating single-piston calipers front and rear. The M440i will come standard with four-piston front calipers inside 19-inch wheels.
Optional is an adaptive M suspension that alters ride comfort according to the driver’s chosen performance mode, which also acts on the car’s steering and drivetrain.
Advanced safety systems
Every 4 Series will come standard with lane departure warning, steering correction, forward collision and pedestrian detection and avoidance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, and speed limit information.
Among the car’s options will be a driving assistance professional package including active cruise control with stop-and-go, and a traffic jam assist system that provides Level 2 autonomous driving capability with extended hands-free operation on congested highways.
Optional laserlight headlights
LED headlights will be standard in all 4 Series variants, along with cornering lights and U-shaped signature daytime running lights. BMW’s laserlight adaptive LED headlights will be available as an option.
Inside the new 4 Series Coupe: “Hey BMW”
Inside, the new 4 Series can be had with a 10.25-inch display for iDrive infotainment functions, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Entry-level trims get an 8.8-inch iDrive screen and analog gauges bracketing a 5.1-inch info display.
Also included in the 2021 BMW 4 Series is the company’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, which responds to the “Hey BMW” prompt to let the driver adjust the car’s secondary controls hands-free.
A new cloud-based navigation system is based around a BMW Maps feature that calculates routes more quickly and will more easily reconfigure a route using real-time traffic info, even for secondary roadways.
The new 4 Series caters to Android Auto users for the first time with wireless smartphone tethering, while Apple CarPlay connectivity is carried over from the outgoing car.
BMW says the 2021 4 Series will reach dealerships in October 2020 with a starting MSRP of $46,595 for the 430i model with rear-wheel drive.
Check out the rest our BMW reviews here.