2021 BMW 4-Series

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian Wong Brian Wong West Coast Editor
February 1, 2021

Buying tip

For most, the 430i model will be the one to get with its strong turbo-4 engine providing more than enough power for everyday driving and occasional fun.

features & specs

430i Convertible
430i Coupe
430i xDrive Coupe
MPG
24 city / 33 hwy
MPG
26 city / 34 hwy
MPG
24 city / 33 hwy
MSRP
$53,100
MSRP
$45,600
MSRP
$47,600

The redesigned 2021 BMW 4-Series has evolved into a technology powerhouse with wonderfully responsive powertrains, but the coupe lacks playfulness.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 BMW 4-Series? What does it compare to?

The 2021 BMW 4-Series is a compact coupe/convertible that is closely related to the 3-Series, but with sportier personality and styling. It competes with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A5, and Genesis G70, among others.

Is the 2021 BMW 4-Series a good car?

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The redesigned 4-Series earns a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10, which trails the 7.7 rating on the related 3-Series. Its technology and drivability impress, once you get past its polarizing nose. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 BMW 4-Series?

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 for some sleekness lacking in the 3-Series. BMW has been toying with larger sized versions of its signature kidney grille on a few other models, but the second-generation 4-Series takes it to the extreme. The grille feels at least doubled in size and covers up much of the front end. It stands in stark contrast to the rest of the car’s smooth contours. The interior offers a modern design with metal and wood accents, and comes equipped with upgraded technology and an easy-to-use interface.

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. Fuel economy ratings top out at an estimated at 29 combined mpg for the 430i and 25 combined mpg for the M440i. 

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 and a surprisingly roomy backseat. Cargo space drops from the 3-Series due to the car’s shape, with 12.0 cubic feet for the coupe and only 9.0 cubic feet for the convertible.

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. The 4-Series has not yet been crash tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS. 

How much does the 2021 BMW 4-Series cost? 

For the coupe, the 430i starts at $46,595 (including destination charges), while the jump to the M440i costs  $59,495. Convertible models start at $54,095 (430i) and $64,995 (M440i). Pricing details have not been released for the M4 as of this writing. 

BMW 430i models start with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, real wood accents, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen. The M440i adds on performance upgrades, better brakes, and a rear spoiler.

Where is the 2021 BMW 4-Series made?

In Germany.

5

2021 BMW 4-Series

Styling

The front grille overwhelms the rest of the 2021 BMW 4-Series’ styling.

Is the 2021 BMW 4-Series a good-looking car?

Our 3-Series review spoke of that car’s distinctive front end, but the 4-Series saw that take and said “hold my hefeweizen.” To call the 4-Series’ new nose distinctive is underselling how much those giant kidneys catch the eye, and I’m not sure it’s in a good way. For states that require a front license plate, the vertically-stretched kidney grille ends up looking like braces. The M4 adds additional venting to feed air to its hungry engine and it doesn’t do the front end any favors.

The rest of the exterior is more appealing with classic long-hood, short-trunk proportions. The garish front end costs the 4-Series a point, but it earns one back for its upmarket interior, with luxury-grade materials and an appealing modern design with metal accents, real wood, and large screens which leaves it as a 5 for styling. The M Sport Package adds some styling changes, like a more aggressive front bumper and some black trim pieces, but the overall effect is very subtle.

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8

2021 BMW 4-Series

Performance

The 2021 BMW 4-Series has excellent powertrains and superb balance, but it lacks steering feel. The 2021 BMW 4-Series earns an 8 out of 10 based on the most popular model, the 430i, with its quick turbo-4 adding one point and excellent handling adding two. The only thing holding the 4-Series back from an even higher score is some numbness to its steering. We have not yet tested a 430i; an M440i xDrive was our test vehicle for the basis of this review.

Is the BMW 4-Series 4WD?

Rear-wheel drive comes standard, but an all-wheel-drive system is available with either engine choice.

How fast is the BMW 4-Series?

Plenty fast, both the 430i and M440i feature turbocharged engines that are eager to rev and easy to extract power from. 

The 430i serves as the base entrant, with a 255-hp turbo-4 mated to an 8-speed automatic. The coupe sprints to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds and that dips to 5.3 seconds with all-wheel drive. 

Those wanting even more speed can jump up to the M440i and its 3.0-liter turbo-6 that makes 382-hp and 360 lb-ft, which powers the car through the same 8-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. It goes 0-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.

The M4 will feature a 3.0-liter twin-turbo-6 that makes 473 hp or 503 hp in Competition grade. A 6-speed manual transmission is found on the regular M4, with Competition models featuring an 8-speed automatic and available all-wheel drive. The M4 hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds while the M4 Competition does it in 3.8 seconds. 

The 4-Series differentiates itself from the 3-Series with additional body reinforcements for more rigidity, sportier tuning of the suspension, steering, and brakes, and more negative camber on the wheels. These changes sharpen up the two-door, with quicker turn in that enhances the excellent handling of the 3-Series. It’s a very neutral car in turns, with minimal body roll and good stability. We’ve largely driven cars with the optional adaptive dampers and the M440i comes with an M Sport differential and M Sport brakes standard as well. 

Though the M440i comes with variable sport steering, the steering remains the only weakness. It’s still better than the vast majority of cars out there, but for a performance-oriented coupe it needs more feedback to give the driver confidence to push it harder.

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7

2021 BMW 4-Series

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 BMW 4-Series has more space inside than would appear at first glance.

The 4-Series has an excellent set of front seats, complete with a power-adjustable bolster to help with thigh support for longer drives. Though the coupe’s shape suggests a cramped back seat, it’s expansive with 34.5 inches of rear leg room and enough head room even for adults. Since there are only two seats in the back row, each passenger sits in a slight bucket. We rate the 2021 4-Series at a 7 based on the strength of its front seats and fit and finish. 

Synthetic leather is standard in gray or black, with real leather optional for about $1,500 in a wider range of color options. Powered front sport seats, real wood grain trim, and a leather steering wheel come standard. 

The trunk does have less cargo space than the 3-Series, down to 12.0 cubic feet vs. 17.0 cubic feet. Convertible cargo volume is a meager 9.0 cubic feet, though that is an improvement over last year’s model.

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2021 BMW 4-Series

Safety

Official crash test results aren’t in, but the 2021 BMW 4-Series offers a slew of advanced safety features.

How safe is the BMW 4-Series?

The NHTSA and the IIHS have not yet crash tested the 4-Series, but the 3-Series with which it has much in common earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick award.

Standard safety features include active lane control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitors. 

The 4-Series is available with hands-free driving technology in limited situations that will also change lanes for you with a bump of the turn signal. And the better headlights that helped the 3-Series earn its safety award are also only available with an expensive options package on both 430i and M440i models.

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9

2021 BMW 4-Series

Features

The 2021 BMW 4-Series comes with a good standard feature set that has plenty of potential for expansion. The addition of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility as standard equipment is nice, and the rest of the base content is strong as well with an 8.8-inch touchscreen. The 4-Series can be outfitted to specification though you will pay for the privilege. It earns a 9 out of 10 rating with added points for base content, options availability, good technology, and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty along with a 3-year/36,000-mile maintenance program.

Which BMW 4-Series should I buy?

The 4-Series that will make sense for most buyers will be the base 430i, which comes with standard synthetic leather seats, moonroof, automatic climate control, parking sensors, and LED headlights with automatic highbeams. It also comes standard with BMW’s excellent iDrive 7 multimedia system, which is highly responsive and with the addition of wireless phone mirroring, easier to use than ever.

Both trims do get expensive quickly with the addition of options. The Driving Assistance Professional Package is required to get the most advanced safety technology and it costs $1,700, but it requires the addition of two other packages/features and that makes it in reality more like a $3,500 option. And if you want to add the M440i’s performance upgrades to the 430i, it’s the same conundrum. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 BMW 4-Series?

An M4 Competition can run its price all the way up nearly $109,000 with features like carbon fiber seats, carbon ceramic brakes, a special metallic paint, and driver assistance/technology packages all added on. When the convertible model comes out, this price will go even higher.

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5

2021 BMW 4-Series

Fuel Economy

The BMW 4-Series is fairly frugal with gas, the exception being the thirsty M4.

Is the 2021 BMW 4-Series good on gas?

The base 430i rates at a 5 out of 10 on our scale with an EPA-rated 26 mpg city, 34 highway, 29 combined. With all-wheel drive it’s 24/33/27 mpg. 

M440i models with the larger 6-cylinder engine offer 25 combined mpg.The M4 is rated at 16/23/19 mpg for both base and Competition models. 

Premium fuel is mandatory for each model.

Review continues below

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$45,600
MSRP based on 430i Coupe
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 9
Fuel Economy 5
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