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2021 BMW 4-Series Preview

LIKES
  • More power, more features, more cowbell
  • Longer, wider, roomier?
  • Sexy style, mostly
  • Marginal price increase
DISLIKES
  • Big dumb butterfly grille
  • Options galore
  • No manual, no cry?
BUYING TIP
  • The 2021 BMW 4-Series coupe arrives in showrooms in late 2020.
The small luxury coupe gets longer, stronger, and loaded with more features.

The 2021 BMW 4-Series is a coupe. It’s not coupe-like; it doesn’t have four doors or a goofy roofline and a goofier name. The 4-Series is a bona fide two-door classic coupe. Let us rejoice. 

Like the 3-Series upon which it is based, the 2021 4-Series is longer, wider, more powerful, and more athletic for its second generation. It will be offered as a convertible and a four-door sedan BMW calls Gran Coupe. Yes, we would opt for the 3-Series or the X3 over the Gran Coupe as well. For now, BMW has only revealed info on the coupe. 

Style and performance
The coupe holds an honored place in the annals of automotive design. Two doors let designers stretch and shape body lines with more fluidity and less glass. The redesigned 2021 BMW 4-Series looks like it’s frozen in motion.

It’s 5.2 inches longer with a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase, and it’s an inch wider. It’s also 0.4 inches taller, perhaps to add more head room. Overall, it looks like designers pinched and stretched the ends. The sides are clean and smooth, with the slightest beltline drawing together the narrow LED headlights with the LED taillights. With standard 18-inch alloy wheels or available wider 19-inch wheels, the long-nosed profile along and short rear deck finished off by dual exhaust tips is muscular and sexy. 

The front end might be more polarizing. The narrower twin kidney grille has been replaced by a giant kidney grille that was bold even on the large X7 three-row SUV. On the smaller, lower, leaner 4-Series coupe, it looks like a steampunk butterfly grille. Flanked by large lower intakes, it fits in like a clown shoe. Maybe it will look more impressive in rear-view mirrors. At the very least, it might encourage some owners to relocate to a state that doesn’t require front license plates. 
Fortunately, what lies behind that grille is a thing of brilliance. The 430i uses an uprated 255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 with an 8-speed automatic that is not only tried and true across BMW’s product line, is also one of the quickest, smoothest, and most predictive transmissions on the market, in any drive mode. The engine generates 294 pound-feet of torque between 1,550 and 4,400 rpm that, along with launch control, gets the car to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, according to BMW. The all-wheel-drive xDrive can do it in 5.3 seconds. Top speed varies between 130 or 155 mph, depending on the wheel and tire package. The outgoing 430i made 248-hp and 258 lb-ft, and hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds in either rear- or all-wheel drive. The 2021 provides more car for no penalty in performance. 

The M440i xDrive uses a 382-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 with and makes 369 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. It’s also paired with the 8-speed, and it hits 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, besting the outgoing 4’s time of 4.6 seconds.

All-wheel drive is rear-biased in either coupe, but the M440i adds a standard locking rear differential to adjust torque incrementally between the right or left rear wheel. The M440i also comes with a standard 48-volt mild-hybrid starter/generator that can boost performance by 11 hp and power the electrical systems so there is less of an energy draw from the gas engine. It also conserves gas by shutting off the engine while coasting into a stop at speeds slower than 9 mph. 

Comfort, safety, and features
The 2021 4-Series comes with more standard driver-assistance and convenience features than the model it replaces. BMW’s seventh-generation iDrive infotainment system comes standard with navigation that can calculate routes quicker, BMW says. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are also standard, and drivers can issue commands through Siri. Buyers can also opt up to BMW’s intelligent assistant to change the climate, close the windows, or do other things you don’t want to do while your nails dry. 

The familiar iDrive controller dial in the console operates the standard 8.8-inch touchscreen, but Live Cockpit Professional has been so impressive in other BMWs that we recommend it here to get the 10.3-inch touchscreen and expand the instrument cluster from a 5.1-inch display to an excellent 12.3-inch digital instrument display. 

Additional standard equipment includes a sport leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season run-flat tires, LED adaptive headlights, open-pore wood trim, a one-year satellite radio subscription, and power-adjustable front sport seats with lumbar support. 

Standard safety and driver-assistance features include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, rear emergency braking, and speed limit info. 
Options abound, though if you’re considering the M Sport Package, why not just shell out a bit more for the real deal M440i? We’re confident you won’t be disappointed. 

The 430i Coupe in rear-wheel drive starts at $46,595, which is only $650 more than the outgoing model. The all-wheel-drive 430i xDrive adds $2,000 to bring the total to $48,595, and the M440i xDrive with the inline-6 costs $59,495. 

BMW says the 2021 4-Series coupe will launch this October.



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