2021 BMW 4 Series Review | If you get past the nose …

Like Cyrano de Bergerac, it’s impossible to get past the nose of the 2021 BMW 4 Series coupe and convertible. Keen to make a bolder, even controversial design statement, BMW has expanded its signature kidney grille to an extent not seen since the early 1950s when tall radiator grilles were still found on virtually every […]

Like Cyrano de Bergerac, it’s impossible to get past the nose of the 2021 BMW 4 Series coupe and convertible. Keen to make a bolder, even controversial design statement, BMW has expanded its signature kidney grille to an extent not seen since the early 1950s when tall radiator grilles were still found on virtually every car on Earth. That’s most definitely not the case in 2021, and judging by the uproar by BMW fans and car enthusiasts in general (plus our own guttural reactions to the thing), it hasn’t proven popular. Quite frankly, it’s hard to get past. We could easily see an emergency restyle in two or three years.

However, let’s move beyond that nose for the rest of this 4 Series review and see if this new luxury sport coupe and convertible has enough other talents and general panache to overcome its face. Should the metaphor not be clear, just like Cyrano de Bergerac. It’s certainly a sharper, more compelling car to drive than its predecessor – the base 430i in particular is bound to engage more than its few remaining competitors (Mercedes C 300, Audi A5 and Infiniti Q60). It’s also impressively luxurious, with abundant feature content, an impressively refined ride and surprising interior space. Basically, it represents all that a great luxury sport coupe or convertible can be … you just have to be OK with that nose.

What’s new for 2021?

The 4 Series is completely new for 2021, adapting the current-generation 3 Series architecture that debuted two years ago. Remember, the 4 Series used to be called the 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, and despite the name change (and now a much different face), the connection continues. You can read all about the extensive other updates in our 4 Series Coupe first drive review and our 4 Series Convertible first drive review, although with the latter, the biggest difference is the adoption of an impressively well insulated soft top in place of the heavier and more complex retractable hardtop. 

The 4 Series Gran Coupe won’t be sold for 2021, but will be making a comeback for 2022 along with what is effectively the electric version, the BMW i4

What’s the 4 Series interior and in-car technology like?

The 4 Series interior design and in-car technology are identical to that of the 3 Series, so forgive us if much of what you’re about to read generously borrows from our 3 Series review. Like that of its four-door sibling, the new 4 Series interior sacrifices some ergonomic functionality in favor of a more eye-catching design with richer materials. Considering that controls are still easily reached and there’s storage aplenty, we think it’s a net positive, even if the design remains more staid than what you’d find in the Mercedes C-Class Coupe. To dig a little deeper, check out our 3 Series Interior Driveway Test as virtually everything we mention in it also applies to the 4 Series.

The 4 Series comes standard with the latest BMW iDrive 7.0 tech interface. We generally like it, especially the myriad ways to accomplish the same tasks – knob, buttons, touchscreen, voice controls. Basically, it allows you to operate the car as you’d prefer. That said, iDrive is still pretty complex, and some may find its menu structure a little overwhelming, especially at first. Android Auto is also added for 2021, and we’re happy to report that we haven’t had the same frustrating connection issues with Apple CarPlay in recent BMW test vehicles.

2021 BMW M440i xDrive

How big is the 4 Series?

This is the biggest 3/4 Series generation ever, growing to proportions that 20 years ago would’ve been in the same ballpark as the 5 Series. While that isn’t great news when it comes to being a lithe, sporting coupe, it does improve the 4 Series’ day-to-day functionality.

The back seat is surprisingly spacious for a coupe, and even more surprisingly spacious for a convertible. There’s actually decent legroom back there for folks of average height in both, though reduced headroom in the coupe will make it a tight fit for anyone surpassing 6 feet. As a result, both body styles are far more practical than their competitors (even BMW’s own 8 Series isn’t as spacious in the back seat). Getting into the back seat is even made tolerable by a power-operated mechanism that, while slow, remembers where the front seat was last placed. 

In terms of cargo capacity, the coupe’s trunk doesn’t seem to lose that much in comparison to the 3 Series sedan (certainly not the 5 cubic-foot difference the specs would suggest). Each passenger should be able to bring along a decent-sized suitcase. The back seat also folds down, and there’s a center pass-through. As for the convertible, we discovered in our 4 Series luggage test that it’s also pretty good for a drop top. As with most convertibles, how much space you have depends on whether the top is raised, but up or down, we still managed to fit four suitcases inside. It was just the size of the suitcases that differed. 

What are the 4 Series fuel economy and performance specs?

The 4 Series is offered as the 430i and M440i. The differences between them largely come down to the engine, but there are some chassis and styling differences as well. We review the high-performance BMW M4 separately.

The 430i has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four good for 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is standard – there is no manual transmission available on any 4 Series apart from the M4. This makes us sad. At least rear-wheel drive is standard, but you can add all-wheel drive to the Coupe by opting for the 430i xDrive. BMW’s 0-60-mph estimate is 5.5 seconds for the 430i Coupe and 5.3 with xDrive. The Convertible is 5.9 seconds.

The M440i Coupe is only available with xDrive, while the Convertible is rear-wheel-drive only. Weird. In either case, the engine is a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six that produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Using all four wheels is at least good for a flawless launch as the 0-60 time rests at 4.3 seconds for the Coupe. The M440i Convertible is estimated at 5 seconds flat.

Fuel economy figures were only available for the Coupe at the time of this writing. The 430i returns an exceptional 26 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. Getting xDrive lowers those to 24/33/27. The M440i xDrive Coupe, meanwhile, returns 22/31/25.

What’s the 4 Series like to drive?

This is a tricky one. The 2021 4 Series has righted the ship after its rather dynamically disappointing predecessor. The new one is sharper and more involving, with responsive powertrains. The steering is also better than before, imparting more information to the driver’s hands and gaining an increased-yet-uncontrived amount of effort. That said, it’s still numb and artificial in feeling, and certainly doesn’t represent the sort of benchmark status enjoyed by past BMW 3 Series. In general, the 4 Series just lacks snap when viewed as a sport coupe/convertible. You want more communication through the wheel, more response from the throttle, and more noise from the powertrain and exhaust. Yes, it’s impressively capable, but you end up gauging whether you can go faster by results rather than what you’re hands and seat of the pants are telling you. Nope, no understeer yet. Nope, the tail isn’t getting squirrelly. Go ahead and nudge even faster. While its true that a luxury coupe and especially convertible like the 430i does not need to be performance-oriented, something wearing an M badge like the M440i’s should be and inch a little closer to the exceptional, more feelsome M4. 

All of that said, however, one has to keep in mind how few competitors the 4 Series has left. Is it less fun or engaging to drive than a Mercedes C-Class or Audi A5? Though its German rivals have certainly closed the gap, neither has established a clear lead, either. Meanwhile, fun-to-drive alternatives like the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Genesis G70 aren’t offered as coupes, let along convertibles. If there is an outside-the-box suggestion to be made, it would be the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. They’re available in both body styles, they’re fun to drive and surprisingly refined with the right boxes checked.

What other BMW 4 Series reviews can I read?

2021 BMW M440i First Drive Review | A chassis for enthusiasts; a face for its mom

Our first drive of the new 4 Series came in an M440i coupe. We were impressed by its performance and chassis, and although a bit underwhelmed by its cabin design found it to have a worthwhile uptick in luxury. Oh yeah, and that nose.

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible First Drive Review | Soft top for the softer 4 Series

We test both the 430i and M440i convertibles. The biggest news is the new soft top roof in place of the old retractable hardtop. It’s a good change. Incredibly quiet, maintains an attractive roofline, and doesn’t suffer from the same packaging and weight detriments of all that folding metal. 

2021 BMW 430i Road Test

The base model 430i doesn’t really wow us. It’s not a bad drive, but it also leaves too much on the table for those expecting a true sport coupe.

2021 BMW 430i xDrive

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Luggage Test

We take a deep dive into the surprisingly spacious trunk of the 4 Series trunk. 

2021 BMW M4 First Drive Review | Mission accomplished

We drive the 4 Series at its finest: the M4, which adds the sort of zest in abundance we feel the other 4 Series versions are so dearly lacking. It’s great. 

What is the BMW 4 Series price, and what features are available?

Standard features on the 430i Coupe include 18-inch wheels, power-folding mirrors, automatic LED headlights and wipers, a sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats (includes power side bolsters and manual thigh support adjustment), SensaTec vinyl upholstery, the latest BMW iDrive 7.0 infotainment system (8.8-inch touchscreen, center console controllers, voice controls), four USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, BMW Assist emergency telematics, and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio — and a CD player! Sweet!

Besides its bigger engine, the M440i features a variety of chassis improvements from BMW’s M Division (though not to the extent of the M4). Otherwise, it comes with the same ample amount of standard features.

There are then a multitude of options, available within packages and/or stand-alone items. You can find a full breakdown of features, specs and local pricing for the 430i here on Autoblog and for the M440i here

All prices below include BMW’s reasonable $995 destination charge.

4 Series Coupe Pricing
BMW 430i: $46,595
BMW 430i xDrive: $48,585
BMW M440i xDrive: $59,495

4 Series Convertible Pricing
BMW 430i: $54,095
BMW M440i: $64,995

What are the 4 Series safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Every 4 Series comes standard with the “Active Driving Assistant” suite of features that includes forward collision warning, lane-departure warning and blind-spot warning. A driver inattention warning system is also included. The optional Driving Assistance Professional package adds front and rear cross-traffic warning, evasive steering assist and an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go capability and lane-keeping steering assistance. You can also add an integrated Drive Recorder camera for $100.

The 4 Series had not been crash tested at the time of this writing. Even the IIHS crash barrier was afraid of that face. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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