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BMW 4 Series 2021 review: Coupe

BMW’s 4 Series coupe is available in 420i, 430i and M440i grades, each stepping up performance.
EXPERT RATING
8.3
BMW’s all-new 4 Series has been dividing armchair stylists since it was first broke cover in mid-2020, but can its driving dynamics, cutting-edge technology and attractive pricetag make up for the looks?

When BMW’s first-generation 4 Series landed in 2013, it looked and drove like little more than a 3 Series sedan minus the two rear doors, and that’s because it was.

For the second-generation version though, BMW have decided to try its best to differentiate the 4 from the 3 Series, adding a unique front end and slight mechanical tweaks.

Sure, the looks might not be to everyone’s taste, but surely BMW’s renowned driver-focused dynamics will be enough for the 4 Series to carve out its niche in the premium sports coupe space … right?

BMW M Models 2021: M440I Xdrive
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.8L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$116,900

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

BMW’s new 4 Series range is available in three flavours, kicking off with the 420i for $70,900 before on-road costs, which is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine (more on that below).

Standard equipment includes sport seats, LED headlights, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, push-button start, automatic wipers, Alcantara/Sensetec (vinyl-like) interior trim, three-zone climate control and 10-speaker sound system, but it’s the inclusion of an M Sport package and 19-inch wheels that really elevate the look of the new 4 Series to a real sporty model.

The M Sport package adds 19-inch wheels that really elevate the look of the new 4 Series to a real sporty model  (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). The M Sport package adds 19-inch wheels that really elevate the look of the new 4 Series to a real sporty model (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

The latter two were options in the previous generation, but so many customers (we’re told close to 90%) opted for the sportier looks that BMW just decided to bundle them into the asking price.

The 420i also comes fitted with a 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system that includes digital radio, satellite navigation, wireless smartphone charger, and wireless Apple CarPlay AND Android Auto (finally some love for Samsung owners!).

It’s remarkable then, that the new 420i is actually almost $4100 cheaper than the model it replaces, while also boasting more equipment, safety and torque.

Stepping up to the 430i increases pricing to $88,900 ($6400 pricier than before), while also adding more equipment such as adaptive dampers, keyless entry, surround-view camera, M Sport brakes, leather interior and active cruise control.

Outputs from the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine are also increased in the 430i (again, more below).

The current king of the 4 Series range until the M4 lands early next year is the M440i, priced at $116,900, but includes a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive grip.

On the outside, the M440i can be distinguished by the standard inclusion of BMW’s Laserlight technology, sunroof and heated front seats, as well as ‘Cerium Grey’ colouring for the kidney grille, tailpipe shrouds and side-view mirrors.

Being a German model, there is (of course) a smattering of options available – including remote engine start and a heated steering wheel – but none jump out as crucial or ‘must have’ in any way.

We appreciate that the base 4 Series looks largely the same as its more expensive siblings, while also offering all the key equipment you’d want out of a premium sports coupe in 2020.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   10/10

Let’s get this out of the way. The 2021 BMW 4 Series is not an ugly car, despite what you may think from the press photos found online.

Is it to everyone’s tastes? Of course not, but I find the gaudy, in-your-face gold-on-black that is Versace’s signature styling a little gross … so your milage will definitely vary on the 4 Series like mine does with high-end fashion.

The high shoulder line and slim glasshouse add to the sportiness (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). The high shoulder line and slim glasshouse add to the sportiness (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

In person, that grille is nowhere near as overwhelming as pictures may have led you to believe, and blends in very nicely with the aggressive and muscular front end of the 4 Series.

In profile, the high shoulder line and slim glasshouse add to the sportiness, as does the sloping roofline and butch rear haunches.

The rear though, is arguably the 4 Series best exterior angle, as the pinched bumper, wraparound tail-lights, large exhaust outlets and subtle rear diffuser combine well for a properly sporty and premium look.

The rear is arguably the 4 Series best exterior angle (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). The rear is arguably the 4 Series best exterior angle (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

All Australian-spec cars come with the M Sport package, meaning a full bodykit, and 19-inch wheels to make even the boggo 420i look aggressive on the road.

Does it work? Well if it wasn’t wearing a BMW badge then it might not get away with this ostentatious styling, but being a big premium player, we think the 4 Series gets away with being as brash and in-your-face as it is.

We actually love that BMW has taken a risk with the 4 Series’ aesthetics and is willing to push the envelope because, after all, it could have just looked like the 3 Series sans-two doors, and that’s just a bit too safe, isn’t it?

Inside, the 4 Series is familiar BMW territory, which means a thick-rimmed steering wheel, glossy shifter and brushed metal accents, as well as high-quality materials throughout.

The dashboard-integrated multimedia system is a particularly nice touch, as are the metal accents that separate the lower and upper halves of the cabin.

So, is there anything interesting about the design? Absolutely. It’s got the internet talking more than usual and will no doubt draw the eye of those wanting to stand out from the often-samey crowd of German sports cars.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Measuring 4768mm long, 1842mm wide, 1383mm tall and with a 2851mm wheelbase, the 2021 BMW 4 Series certainly looks commanding on the road, and the generous proportions do well for interior space too.

The BMW 4 Series measures 4768mm long, 1842mm wide, 1383mm tall (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). The BMW 4 Series measures 4768mm long, 1842mm wide, 1383mm tall (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

Of note though, the M440i is slightly longer (4770mm), wider (1852mm) and taller (1393mm) than the 420i and 430i, but the slight variance doesn’t translate to any perceivable difference in practicality.

Up front, there is plenty of space for driver and passenger, with a wide array of seat adjustability offering nearly the perfect position for nearly everyone regardless of shape or size.

Storage options include a generous door pocket with separate bottle holder, large central storage cubby, generous glove box, and two cupholders sited between the shifter and climate controls.

We love that the wireless smartphone charger is tucked well away just ahead of the cupholders, meaning you don’t have to worry about keys or loose change scratching up your screen, and it doesn’t eat into any of the other storage options around the cabin.

Being a coupe, you wouldn’t expect heaps of room in the second row, and the BMW 4 Series certainly doesn’t defy expectations in this regard.

There isn't heaps of room in the second row  (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). There isn't heaps of room in the second row (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

Adult passengers can get in the back easy enough, thanks to auto-folding front seats, but once there, head- and shoulder-room can be a bit tight, while legroom is dependent on the height of front passengers.

We’ve certainly been in worse back seats though, and the deeply recessed seats help alleviate some of the headroom issues, but its not a space for the claustrophobic.

Open the boot and the 4 Series will swallow up to 440 litres of volume and, thanks to the wide space, can easily accommodate a set of golf clubs or weekend luggage for two.

The 4 Series boot will swallow up to 440 litres  (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). The 4 Series boot will swallow up to 440 litres (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

The second row is divided 40:20:40, so you can fold down the middle to transport skis (or timber from Bunnings) while still ferrying four.

Folding the rear seats down will increase your cargo volume, but the aperture between the boot and cabin is quite small, so you might want to keep that in mind before heading to Ikea.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Both the entry-level and mid-tier 4 Series variants (420i and 430i respectively) are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Under the bonnet of the 420i, the engine produces 135kW/300Nm, while the 430i ups the ante to 190kW/400Nm.

The flagship (at launch) M440i meanwhile, scores a 3.0-litre turbo-petrol inline six delivering 285kW/500Nm.

All three engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with no manual option available on any grade.

The 420i and 430i send drive to the rear wheels, resulting in a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 7.5 and 5.8 seconds respectively, while the all-wheel-drive M440i needs just 4.5s.

Stacked up against its German rivals, the 4 Series offers a decent engine line-up, but doesn’t excel at any level compared to the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Officially, the 420i will sip 6.4 litres per 100km, while the 430i is slightly thirstier at 6.6L/100km.

Both aforementioned 4 Series variants will need 95 RON at the bowser.

The heavier and more potent M440i needs 7.8L/100km, while also using the more expensive 98 RON fuel.

We only drove through Melbourne country roads in our brief time with all three grades of the 4 Series and could not ascertain a reliable fuel economy figure.

Our driving did not cover an extended freeway journey or any inner-city driving, so check back to see if the quoted figures hold up to scrutiny once we get more time with the car.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

BMW’s 2021 4 Series has not been crash tested by either Euro NCAP or ANCAP, and does not wear an official safety rating.

However, the mechanically related 3 Series sedan was awarded a maximum five-star rating when it was examined in October 2019, but do keep in mind that the child occupant protection scores could vary wildly due to the 4 Series’ coupe shape.

The 3 Series scored 97 per cent for the adult occupant protection test, and 87 per cent for the child occupant exam. Meanwhile, the vulnerable road user protection and safety assist tests yielded an 87 and 77 per cent result respectively.

As standard, the 4 Series is equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Like all new BMW models, the 4 Series comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

However, the benchmark for premium brands belongs to Mercedes-Benz, who offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, while Genesis matches the time period but limits travel to 100,000km.

Scheduled servicing for the 4 Series occurs every 12 months or 16,000km.

At the time of purchase, BMW offers a five-year/80,000 ‘basic’ service package that covers scheduled changing engine oil, filter, spark plugs and brake fluids.

The 4 Series comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). The 4 Series comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

This package costs $1650, which works out to be a very reasonable $330 per service.

A more thorough ‘plus’ plan is also available for $4500 that also covers brake pads/discs, clutch and windscreen wiper replacements over the same five-year/80,000km period.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Anything wearing a BMW badge promises a fun and engaging drive, after all the brand’s tagline used to be the ‘ultimate driving machine’, which is exacerbated in a sporty two-door.

Luckily then, the 4 Series delivers the goods and is a thoroughly enjoyable drive in all three grades.

Taking the already brilliant new-generation 3 Series as a base, BMW has made the 4 Series lower, and added additional stiffening in the front and rear for a taught and agile handling machine.

The rear track is also increased, while the front wheels have more negative camber to help with mid-corner grip.

Anything wearing a BMW badge promises a fun and engaging drive  (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i). Anything wearing a BMW badge promises a fun and engaging drive (pictured: 2021 4 Series M440i).

Though the 420i and 430i might not draw any headlines, they 2.0-litre turbo-petrol pair are fun to steer and precise with their inputs.

The 420i especially doesn’t have the punch to match its aggressive looks, but is perfectly capable at slower speeds and still a delight to tip in a corner.

The 430i meanwhile, delivers more thrills thanks to its more potent engine, but it can get a bit trashy higher in the rev range.

However, the pick of the bunch for us the M440i, not only for its extra spicy engine, but also the assurance of all-wheel drive.

Now it might be sacrilege to some to not have a rear-drive BMW, but the rear-biased xDrive system in the M440i is wonderfully tuned to deliver the same sort of natural driving characteristic of a two-wheel-drive model.

Undoubtedly the near-perfect weight distribution helps with this, while the wonderfully low driving position means the whole car feels like it pivots around the driver when turning the wheel.

The M Sport differential in the rear is also great at propelling out you out of the bends, while the adaptive suspension also has great variability between comfort and sport settings.

If we had any criticism with the driving experience? We’d have liked a bit more aural theatre, but BMW have to save the louder pops and crackles for the full-fat M4, right?

A big caveat here though is that we have yet to experience the new 4 Series in a suburban setting, with our launch route taking us directly to some twisty country roads.

We also never got to drive the 4 Series in a freeway setting, meaning all of the driving was done in twisty country roads where you would expect a BMW to excel.

Verdict

BMW has once again delivered a supremely enjoyable sports car with its new 2021 4 Series.

Sure, it might have love-it or hate-it styling, but those that dismiss the 4 Series based solely on looks are missing out on a wonderful driving experience.

With the base 420i offering all the style in a relatively affordable pricetag, while the all-wheel-drive grip of the M440i adds extra assurance at a more premium price, BMW's new 4 Series should cater to anyone looking for a premium sports coupe.

Pricing guides

$173,900
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$102,900
Highest Price
$244,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
M4 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $149,900 2021 BMW M Models 2021 M4 Pricing and Specs
M2 Competition 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $109,900 2021 BMW M Models 2021 M2 Competition Pricing and Specs
M2 CS 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $139,900 2021 BMW M Models 2021 M2 CS Pricing and Specs
M440I Xdrive 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $116,900 2021 BMW M Models 2021 M440I Xdrive Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Price and features9
Design10
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption8
Safety7
Ownership8
Driving9
Tung Nguyen
News Editor

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