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2021 BMW 4 Series Review


The BMW 4 Series is a compact luxury coupe/convertible that’s all-new for 2021. BMW has pushed the 4 Series further upmarket. It has an edgier look while sharing the excellent chassis and exciting engine options of the mechanically similar 3 Series.

In many ways, the BMW 4 Series is a love letter to BMW enthusiasts. It’s a driver-centric luxury coupe that’s engaging to drive at any speed. In a world where the luxury coupe seems to be getting rarer while crossovers reign supreme, the all-new 4 Series is a breath of fresh air.

As of this writing, a new four-door 4 Series Gran Coupe has not been officially unveiled yet. However, BMW has said to expect one soon. For the 2021 model year, the car is only available as a two-door coupe or convertible.

What’s New for 2021?

The BMW 4 Series is all-new for 2021. See the 2021 BMW 4 Series models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Outstanding engines
  • Driver-focused cockpit
  • Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Nice list of standard equipment

What We Don’t

  • Questionable front-end styling
  • Gets expensive with options
  • Manual transmission only available on M4
  • No Gran Coupe body style…yet

How Much?

$45,600 to $74,700

Fuel Economy

The 2021 BMW 4 Series is available with your choice of a turbocharged inline-four or two different versions of the same turbocharged inline-six. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard and if you want a manual, you’ll have to upgrade to the M4.

The base 2.0-liter inline-four produces 255 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque and returns 26 city/34 highway/29 combined mpg in the rear-wheel-drive base model. When you add all-wheel drive with the 430i xDrive model, those numbers drop to 24 city/33 highway/27 combined mpg.

Upgrading to the M440i xDrive with the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel-drive turns the performance up to 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Its 48-volt mild hybrid system promises to improve overall efficiency without sacrificing performance.

Finally, the M4 uses a higher-performance, non-hybrid version of the turbocharged inline-six that powers the M440i. The M4 makes 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque while the M4 Competition turns those numbers up to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. The regular M4 uses a 6-speed manual transmission while the Competition model uses the 8-speed automatic. As of this writing, the M4 is only available as a coupe, but we’re expecting a convertible to become available at some point. A sport-tuned M xDrive AWD system is an option on the Competition model, but not that standard M4.

The 6-cylinder BMW 440i XDrive Coupe is rated by the EPA at 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. As an M4 and an M4 Competition Coupe, this BMW is rated at 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19 mpg combined.

The base BMW 430i is more efficient than the base models of both the 2021 Audi A5 (with standard AWD) and 2021 Mercedes-Benz C 300 coupe, which both have a combined fuel economy rating of 27 mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 BMW 4 Series comes in two basic trims, both of which are available as a coupe or a convertible; the 430i and M440i. For the coupe, the 430i can be had with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive. The coupe version of the sportier M440i can only be had with xDrive. On the convertible, however, both trims are available with either RWD or xDrive. Across the board, adding AWD is a $2,000 upgrade. Every 4 Series has a destination charge of $995.

On top of those basic trim levels, several option packages and individual options are available.

The base 430i coupe ($45,600) has a nice list of standard features. You get the base turbocharged inline-four engine and rear-wheel drive with the option to add AWD for an extra $2,000. The base 430i convertible ($53,100) has the same list of standard features as the coupe with the addition of a power convertible top in lieu of a moonroof.

Standard equipment includes SensaTec synthetic leather seats, power front seats, open-pore wood interior trim, a universal garage door opener, automatic climate control, dynamic cruise control, LED headlights, automatic high-beams, a power moonroof, Park Distance Control, and some safety packages like Active Protection, Active Driving Assistant, and Active Guard. The standard infotainment system is an 8.8-inch iDrive 7 unit with navigation and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Upgrading to the M440i ($58,500 coupe, $64,00 convertible) adds the more muscular inline-six engine with the mild hybrid system. xDrive is standard on the M440i coupe and optional on the M440i convertible. Additional features that come with the M440i include different wheel options, an M Sport differential, variable sport steering, M sport suspension, Comfort Access keyless entry, a SensaTec dashboard, and Aluminum Tetragon trim.

Finally, there’s the mighty M4 sitting atop the 4 Series model range. Available as the M4 ($71,800) or even stronger M4 Competition ($74,700), this is the performance model you’ll want if you have the budget for it. On top of the engine upgrade over the M440i, features of the M4 include an upgraded cooling system, special exhaust with Sport and Sport+ modes, Adaptive M Suspension, M Servotronic steering, M Compound brakes, M Dynamic Mode with 10-stage traction control, and a unique appearance package.

The M4 Competition provides even more power and torque while adding available M xDrive AWD. It also adds a transmission oil cooler, black chrome exhaust tips, an M Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic, and a few unique interior and exterior touches.

Many option packages and individual options are available so you can customize your car to make it uniquely yours.

Let’s start with a few packages that are only available for the 430i and 430i xDrive. The Convenience Package ($900) adds Comfort Access keyless entry, lumbar support, and ambient interior lighting.

The M Sport Package ($3,800) adds several choices of different wheel and tire combinations plus an aerodynamic kit, variable sport steering, sportier suspension options, a SensaTec dashboard, an M steering wheel, Shadowline exterior trim, and more interior trim options. M Sport gives the 430i the look of the M440i without committing to the six-cylinder engine.

The Dynamic Handling Package ($2,450) is similar to the M Sport package, but with a focus on better handling as its name suggests. It gives you more wheel and tire options and adds an M Sport differential and M Sport brakes with blue or red calipers (both of which are standard on the M440i). It also adds Adaptive M suspension.

For the M440i, there’s a Cooling and High-Performance Tire Package ($1,500) which adds a more powerful cooling fan and an additional engine cooler. It also adds high-performance tires to match the sporting nature of the car.

Now for the packages that are available on all models of the 4 Series.

The Premium Package ($3,200 for 430i, $2,500 for M440i) adds a heated steering wheel, Comfort Access, lumbar support, heated front seats, ambient lighting, a head-up display, and Live Cockpit Professional, which upgrades the infotainment system and adds a fully digital instrument display.

The Executive Package ($4,400 for 430i, $3,700 for M440i, $2,800 for M4, $3,000 for M4 Competition) is similar to the Premium Package with the addition of gesture control and adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight.

The Driving Assistance Professional Package ($1,700) adds Active Driving Assistant Pro with traffic jam assist, steering and lane control assistant, emergency stop assistant, and evasion aid. It also has extended traffic jam assistant for limited access highways.

The Parking Assistance Package ($700 for 430i and M440i, $800 for M4) adds Parking Assistant Plus, a surround-view camera with 3D view, and Active Park Distance Control.

The Shadowline Package ($300) adds more black exterior trim to the 4 Series giving it a moodier look.

A few options that you can get individually include different interior and exterior trim options, Vernasca leather upholstery in a variety of colors, remote start, M Sport brakes (with your choice of red or blue calipers), Adaptive M suspension, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, an HUD, Harman/Kardon premium audio, wireless charging, and more.

Safety

The 2021 BMW 4 Series has a generous list of standard safety tech. Three safety systems come standard on every 4 Series called Active Protection, Active Driving Assistant, and Active Guard.

Active Protection has automatic front seat belt tensioning, automatic closing of windows and moonroof, fatigue and focus alert, and post-crash braking. Active Driving Assistant gives you lane-departure warning, speed limit information, active blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear collision preparation. Finally, Active Guard adds pedestrian warning with braking, frontal collision warning, and city collision mitigation with braking.

As of this writing, the 2021 BMW 4 Series has not been crash-tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS.

Behind the Wheel

The all-new 2021 BMW 4 Series is a more upscale car than the outgoing first-generation model. We’ve been waiting for this car ever since the all-new 3 Series came out for the 2019 model year and we’re delighted that its two-door counterpart has finally caught up. It was worth the wait.

The well-crafted interior has the driver-centric nature that BMW enthusiasts crave. As far as front-seat occupants are concerned, this interior is very similar to the 3 Series, which is a good thing. The design is clean, the materials are high-quality, and the seats are comfortable. Unsurprisingly, the back seats are a bit cramped but usable in a pinch.

The new 4 Series shares the same platform and same engines as its four-door stablemate. Meanwhile, it has a wider rear track, a lower center of gravity, and re-tuned suspension and steering compared to the 3 Series. The result is exactly what you’d hope for; a coupe (or convertible) version of the excellent 3 Series that’s even more engaging to drive.

The base turbocharged four-cylinder engine is superbly well balanced. It delivers quick acceleration and no shortage of passing power on the highway while returning respectable fuel economy. If you’re looking for a cool and luxurious commuter and don’t plan on doing a lot of spirited driving, then this is your engine.

The optional turbocharged inline-6 is a great engine that adds some welcome muscle to the 4 Series. Handling is good in the M440i, but it’s not quite as nimble as the smaller BMW 2 Series. That said, the 6-cylinder 4 Series is a blast in a straight line and it’s no slouch when the roads get curvy.

The six-cylinder gets even better if you upgrade to the M4. The M4 ditches the mild hybrid system of the M440i and gains a good helping of more power and torque. The M4 can achieve 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds and if you upgrade to the M4 Competition, you get over 500 hp and can hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 3.8 seconds.

We’d understand if purists are bummed about the lack of a manual transmission option on the non-M models. But, the standard 8-speed automatic is excellent. It not only provides smooth and quick shifts, but it can use data from the navigation and active cruise control systems to know the perfect timing for downshifts so you have all of the power you need right when you need it.

At the end of the day, the base turbo-four is more than enough engine for most drivers. Enthusiasts will likely prefer the extra two cylinders, but the more affordable 430i — maybe with the M Sport Package — is worth a test drive before committing to the extra horsepower.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: The C-Class is the oldest competitor to BMW compact cars and still one of the strongest. The interior is top-notch and it has tons of standard and available features. However, the back seats of the two-door models are almost unusable.

2021 Audi A5/S5: The Audi A5 and the sportier S5 have the benefit of standard Quattro all-wheel drive on every model.  It also offers up a striking design and a premium interior with user-friendly tech features. The A5 has the available four-door Sportback body style for added practicality. It also has a more affordable base price than the 4 Series.

2021 Infiniti Q60: The Infiniti Q60 isn’t the most luxurious coupe in its class, but it’s a good value. It has a particularly daring design that really stands out and its base engine serves up 300 horsepower. You can add a pair of turbochargers that takes it up to 400 hp. Unfortunately, there’s no convertible option.

2021 Lexus RC: The Lexus RC delivers the outstanding safety and reliability ratings you’d expect from the brand in the form of a stylish coupe. It lags a bit behind the BMW in terms of performance, but it has a very impressive list of standard features at a lower base price. Like the Infiniti, there’s no convertible option.

Used BMW M4: If you just can’t wait for the new M4 or if you predict it will be outside your budget, there’s certainly nothing wrong with the outgoing F32 generation of the M4. Powered by a thrilling twin-turbo inline-six with an available manual transmission, this car delivers pure BMW performance in a modern package.

Used Porsche 718 Cayman/718 Boxster: If you can afford to ditch the back seat, the mid-engine Porsche 718 is a stylish and exciting premium sports car. It’s available as the Cayman coupe or the Boxster convertible. Used models are in the same price range as a new 4 Series.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2021 BMW 4 Series is a good premium compact coupe or convertible for just about anyone looking for a small luxury car with a stylish two-door design. The Audi A5 was arguably the king of this segment before, but now that the 4 Series has been updated with the chassis and engines of the new 3 Series, it’s more competitive than ever.

The most bang for the buck comes from the base model, and we recommend adding all-wheel drive if you live in a snowy climate. The engine, infotainment system, and safety tech are all so good in the base 430i model that it won’t leave you wanting for much more than that. If you’re buying this car for its performance, then you should consider adding the M Sport Package or upgrading to the M440i if your budget allows it. The M4 at the top of the food chain is a blast, but it’s also quite pricey, especially compared to used examples of the outgoing model. Find a BMW 4 Series for sale

Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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