The Car Connection BMW 4-Series Overview
The BMW 4-Series are compact coupes or convertibles related to the 3-Series family. Although the 4-Series name may be new to some people, the idea isn't—the 4- and 3-Series coupes and convertibles have been around for decades.
With the 4-Series, BMW has a rival for cars such as the Audi A5, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, and the Lexus RC.
MORE: Read our 2021 BMW 4-Series review
Second generation (2021-)
The redesigned 2021 4-Series is based on the same platform as the 3-Series but tweaked to make the two-door coupe longer, lower, and wider giving the second-generation 4-Series some sleekness that the 3-Series lacks. The convertible follows the coupe later in 2021 in either 430i or M440i models. The 430i uses a 235-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 with standard rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, while the M440i has a 382-hp 3.0-liter turbo-6 with standard all-wheel drive. Both engines come with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Those who want a manual will have to wait for the M4 and its 473-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo-6 to debut sometime in 2021.
Inside the 4-Series gets a unique setup compared to the 3-Series, with a different center console layout and a distinct shifter. The 4-Series comes with BMW’s iDrive 7 multimedia system which includes standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with an 8.8-inch touchscreen that can be upgraded to a 10.3-inch touchscreen. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard, laid over a pair of very comfortable front seats. The 4-Series’ standard safety features now include active lane control, automatic forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitors.
First generation (2014-2020)
When the 4-Series was new for 2014, it included models with 4- and 6-cylinder engines. In due time, those were joined by an M4 model, as well as a sleek sedan spin-off, the 4-Series Gran Coupe. For 2017, the lineup sees the arrival of two new engines—and the nomenclature to match. Last year's 428i becomes 430i and the 435i is now known as the 440i.
At first, the 4-Series lineup consisted only of two-door versions of the latest 3-Series sedan. Sculpted front fenders and far more aggressive styling treatments for the front and rear give this model more of a high-performance look compared to the 3-Series, while the smoothly arched roofline matches up well with a taller greenhouse. As with the latest 3-Series, the 4's cabin is a bit roomier than in the coupe it replaces, although the 4-Series models get a new 2+2 layout, with bucket seats in back. The 4-Series gets seriously charming with its more ritzy interior trim packages (although perhaps too splashy in others that attempt to be sporty or ultra-modern), and its seats give grip just where it's called for in sporty driving. The backseat is somewhere we'd stay out of, which admittedly is often the case with small two-doors.
At launch, the engine lineup included both the 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 and the 3.0-liter turbo inline-6, in 428i and 435i models—both with either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. Rear-wheel-drive and xDrive all-wheel-drive models are a part of the mix, and the 4-Series gets BMW's latest electric power steering system, tuned slightly differently from how it is in the 3-Series for a more sporting feel.
Despite significant gains in comfort, safety (as already proven in crash-test ratings), and fuel economy (of up to 34 mpg highway)—and despite an ever-greater number of high-tech options—the 4-Series cars remain among the most confident, dynamically engaging models in their class. Name change aside, the 4-Series continues as the yard stick by which others in the segment are measured.
For the 2015 model year, the Gran Coupe edition arrived, as did the fearsome BMW M4 coupe and convertible, which carry the torch for the former two-door M3 performance variants. The Gran Coupe, like the 6-Series version, was a sort of coupe-sedan, although the 4-Series Gran Coupe is actually a hatchback, while the 6-Series has a conventional trunk.
The M4 was powered by a twin-turbo version of the classic inline-6 that makes 425 hp. It's one of the best-driving BMWs in recent memory, making improvements over the last-generation M3 coupe and adding more power to boot. Its hugely upgraded power comes with a choice between 6-speed manual and 7-speed M Double Clutch gearboxes. With an available Active M limited-slip differential, and an available Adaptive M suspension, the newest BMW M4 takes after the larger M6 in ride and sophistication, yet keeps its weight down, to enable a supercar-league 0-60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds (in DCT form).
The rest of the 4-Series lineup saw some minor changes for 2015, mostly dealing with interior trim and feature availability. Notably, Bluetooth audio streaming was made standard across the board, and the so-called Enhanced Bluetooth (with a USB port) is now a standalone $500 option.
Changes announced for the 2016 3-Series migrated to the 4-Series for 2017. They included a new turbocharged six to replace the 335i's N55 engine. This new engine, dubbed B58, makes 320 hp. The entry-level 430i, meanwhile, saw its new 4-cylinder rated at 248 hp compared to last year's 240 ponies.
For 2018, BMW changed the front and rear bumpers and stiffened the 4-Series suspension for a sportier ride. The 2019 and 2020 versions were unchanged ahead of a new model that should arrive some time in 2020.