The 2021 4 Series is a ground-up redesign of BMW’s long-running, two-door compact. While the days of it simply being referred to as a 3 Series coupe may be well behind it, the fundamentals of the formula have not changed. Everything from the chassis up is clean-sheet, and in executing this overhaul, BMW appears to have addressed the biggest shortcomings of the previous generation.
There’s only one thing holding us back from calling the 4 Series an across-the-board upgrade. Yeah, we’re referring to BMW’s aesthetic decisions. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we’re having a hard time wrapping our heads around that front end and we’re definitely not alone. Maybe it would be easier if the nostrils weren’t the size of dinner tables. “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln …” the 2021 4 Series impresses.
Much like the 3 Series sedan, the 4 has grown quite a bit, gaining two inches of wheelbase and roughly five inches in overall length. BMW quite expertly kept the weight in check, though, with only the top-spec M440i (which we’re evaluating today) ticking up by about 100 pounds. Sadly, a few enthusiast-friendly variants are not returning. The rear-wheel-drive 440i got the axe, and there are no manual transmissions available anywhere in the hierarchy. We’ll give you a moment to pour one out.
While the cabin may not be as ostentatious as what you see in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, the materials are of high quality and all of the switchgear feels robust. It’s more luxurious in look and feel than the previous 4’s cabin, and given BMW’s penchant for offering somewhat ho-hum interior appointments, we’re pleased with this latest effort. But it’ll cost you.
Our loaner was loaded, and we do mean loaded. The M440i xDrive will set you back $59,495 (including $995 for destination) before you even look at any options. Ours came with the Drivers Assistance Pro package ($1,700), Executive package ($3,700) and the Cooling & High Performance Tire package ($1,500), along with a few other stand-alone options including the Cognac Vernasca leather and Arctic Race Blue exterior finish. All of that pushed the total up to a whopping $70,470. That’s M4 money.
In BMW’s defense, you do get a lot. Some of it — such as the gesture-based infotainment controls — is on the superfluous side, but between the whack of semi-autonomous driver aids and safety features, the borderline-overwhelming abundance of tech (including standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for which you no longer have to pay a service fee), heated just-about-everything, and plenty of performance goodies, this punchy and agile coupe won’t leave you wanting for much – unless your ultimate goal is lap times.
That’s not to say the M440i isn’t quick. The 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. With power going to all four wheels through a butter-smooth, eight-speed automatic, BMW says the M440i will hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. The M440i also gets the M Sport electronically controlled limited-slip differential, M Sport suspension and variable steering assist, and upgraded brakes with four-piston front calipers standard. All are optional on the 430i.
All variants of the new 4 Series also benefit from a new electrical architecture and a 48-volt mild hybrid assist system, which helps smooth torque delivery and improve auto-stop/start performance. The 430i sDrive (pictured below) is rated at 26 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with the standard rear-wheel drive, or sDrive model. Switching to the xDrive model drops those figures to 24/33/27. The M440i has not yet been rated.