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The 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe Gets Bigger and Bolder, With Better Performance

Love it or hate it, huge kidney grilles aren’t just for SUVs any more.

Todd LassaWriterManufacturerPhotographer

Did you think—or, more likely, hope?—the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe might be spared the oversize twin-kidney grille that has permeated the marque's latest X5 and X7 SUVs? Even after you saw the company's Concept 4? We're sorry to disappoint you if that is the case, but cast your eyes to the new version of the two-door model, its nose cheekily bifurcated in official press photos by thin, rectangular European license plates.

Scheduled for its global launch in October, the all-new 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe gets a boost in horsepower, torque, and performance, plus major upgrades in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and a 48-volt mild hybrid starter/generator and battery standard on the six-cylinder model.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe: New Sheetmetal, Better Aero

The 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe's "striking front end" and its big twin-kidney treatment "provide adequate cooling for the more powerful engines," BMW says, and the grille is angled forward from the bottom of the front bumper cover. Surfaces with a 3-D mesh cover frame the kidneys, with arrow-shaped hood accents that meet at the grille. The front bumper's edges have Air Curtain intakes to emphasize the 4 Series' width, which increases by 1 inch compared to both the outgoing 4 Series and the new 3 Series sedan.

The 2021 4 Series is 2.2-inches longer than the 3 Series and 5.2-inches longer than the old 4, and is 2.2-inches lower than the old coupe. Of course, it shares its wheelbase with the new 3 Series, which is 1.6-inches longer than the old 4 Series' wheelbase. BMW claims a drag coefficient of 0.25, down from 0.29 of the 2014-19 model.

The car's profile has "very clean, minimalist lines," BMW says, with muscular fenders and a tapering greenhouse ending in the Hofmeister kink. In the photos, at least, the C-pillars' crisply creased lines look a bit Infiniti-like.

The M Sport package adds a unique front bumper design with larger air-intake openings, and Shadowline inlays added to the restyled rear bumper. Its rear diffuser panel, front air-intake trim, side-window moldings, and lower exterior-mirror housings are all finished in high-gloss black. The optional Shadowline Package adds the high-gloss black to the kidney grille and exhaust-tip trim, and also adds black mirror caps.

Order the M440i xDrive Coupe and you add a rear trunk spoiler, and get Cerium Grey for the kidney grille, front air-intake trim, exterior-mirror caps, and exhaust tip.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe: A Look Inside

The front sport seats and sport steering wheel are new designs, and they're standard. The M Sport Package and M440i xDrive Coupe add soft knee padding on the sides of the center console, as well as an M Sport steering wheel and M logo door sill plates.

The start/stop-off button moves to the center console, closer to the redesigned gearshift, iDrive controller, and dynamic-setting switch. There's full LED interior lighting, and optional adjustable ambient lighting for the instrument and door panels.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe: Updated Engines

BMW increased horsepower and torque of the 4 Series' carryover four- and six-cylinder engines. The B46 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo-four in the 430i and 430i xDrive is up 7 horses and 36 lb-ft, and the B58 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo inline-six in the M440i xDrive is up 52 hp and 39 lb-ft.

BMW claims a 4.3-second 0-60-mph time for the 2021 M440i xDrive. The 430i is good for a 5.5-second 0-60-mph time, while the 430i xDrive cuts that by 0.2-second, BMW says. Top speed with either engine is 155 mph or 130 mph, depending on wheels and tires. There are two 18-inch wheel/tire options, and six 19-inch options.

Choose From RWD or AWD—and One Transmission

In BMW-speak "xDrive" refers to all-wheel drive, of course, so rear-wheel drive is available only on the 430i. BMW says its xDrive intelligent AWD offers "rapid, precise, and fully variable distribution of drive torque between the front and rear wheels," with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case. The xDrive system sends 100-percent of torque to the rear wheels when AWD is not needed. A standard M Sport rear differential in the M440i xDrive works to improve traction by equalizing drive torque from left and right under acceleration, BMW says, and works with the DSC stability control to reduce understeer.

The standard eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission (no manual will be offered) has a new hydraulic control system for better response and efficiency, and new torsion dampers are designed to cut powertrain irregularities. The eight-speed automatic connects with the navigation system and (optional) Active Cruise Control's radar sensor to adapt upshifts and downshifts to the route and driving conditions.

M440i xDrive Coupe Gets Standard 48-volt Mild Hybrid System

The six-cylinder 2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe will come standard with a 48-volt starter/generator and a separate 48-volt battery for energy recuperation, storage, and use while driving. Regeneration happens under deceleration, braking, and from excess electricity produced in Sport mode, and it can increase performance by up to 11 horsepower under hard acceleration by producing power for electricals and cutting parasitic losses. The system can shut down the engine under braking at speeds below 9 mph, and it allows the engine to restart "quickly with little vibration." While BMW was one of the first automakers to introduce stop/start in the U.S., its refinement and smoothness hasn't kept up with competition, until now.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe: Ride and Handling

BMW says it stiffened the 4 Series' body structure; new bracing connects the front shock towers to the bulkhead to the front end to the rear axle. There are extruded aluminum side member panels at the front end and die-cast aluminum shock-absorber housings, as well as aluminum hood, front fenders, and doors.

Suspension is front MacPherson struts and rear five-link, and BMW claims the stiffer structure, wider rear track, and 0.9-inch lower center of gravity add up to "significantly sharper" handling than before. There's extra hydraulic damping for the front shocks, extra compression limiting for the rears, and an element that drops into the inner sleeve of the front shocks is designed to cut vibrations.

Shock damping, springs, anti-roll bars, and the 0.4-inch lower ride height (0.3-inch for xDrive models) compared to the 3 Series are designed for a stiffer ride and better handling. The 4 Series' optional M Sport suspension, standard on the M440i xDrive Coupe, further firms up the springs, bushings and mounts, and anti-roll bars, and adds greater negative wheel camber.

Kick in some extra bucks for the Adaptive M Suspension and you get electronic shocks that provide a distinctive difference between Comfort and Sport modes, BMW says. The driver-customized Adaptive setting responds to throttle and steering inputs to switch the powertrain to sportier or more comfortable responses, and the (standard!) navigation system's map data can control this suspension setting to anticipate curves.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe: About That Steering

Steering appears to be unchanged for the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe. Servotronic speed-sensitive power assistance is standard, and Variable Sport steering is standard on the M440i xDrive and part of the M Sport Package option on the two 430i models. This optional system changes the steering angle for maximum cornering as well as better low-speed comfort.

When the Ultimate Driving Machine Nearly Drives Itself

The optional Driving Assistance Professional Package is described as a Level 2 autonomous system, with Active Cruise Control, Stop & Go, and Extended Traffic Jam Assist allowing "extended hands-free vehicle operation." An optional Parking Assistance Package, with panoramic view and 3-D-surround cameras, help you park in both parallel and perpendicular parking spots. Back-up assistance records the last 50 yards at speeds less than 20 mph.

BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant uses voice recognition to help set the temperature and open and close the car windows.

The new 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe comes standard with iDrive 7 which includes navigation and cloud-based BMW Maps. An 8.8-inch center touchscreen with 5.1-inch color display between the instrument gauges is standard, and a 10.25-inch touchscreen with 12.3-inch instrument display is optional. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard.

Base price for the 2021 BMW 430i Coupe will be $48,595. The 430i xDrive Coupe starts at $48,595, and the M440i xDrive Coupe comes in at $59,495. And even though this new 4 Series is months away from going on sale, we already look forward to hotter versions, like the M4 and perhaps even a new M4 CS like the one we just tested to the limit on the racetrack.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe Specifications
ON SALE October 2020
PRICE $48,595-$59,495
ENGINES 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/225 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm, 294 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,400 rpm; 3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6/382 hp@ 5,800-6,500 rpm, 364 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD or AWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE: TBD
L x W x H: 187.9-188.0 x 72.9 x 54.6-54.8 in
WHEELBASE: 112.2 in
WEIGHT: 3,578-3,977 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.3-5.5 sec
TOP SPEED 130-155 mph