When BMW first revealed that the iconic twin kidney grilles on many of its cars were going to be growing in size, it caused an uproar among BMW loyalists that feared that an iconic BMW design cue was going to be lost forever. Despite this, BMW has moved forward, and has unveiled the 2021 BMW 4-Series coupe.
The enlarged grille originally made its debut on the Concept 4, and while we are still processing the look of the production version of this grille, it is apparent that some changes were made in an attempt to address some of these concerns. The grilles themselves are slightly smaller, and it appears that BMW designers smoothed out some of the bulges. But while the bigger grilles have certainly emerged as the most controversial elements of the design, it is not the first time we have seen a design like this. In the mid 1930s, BMW designers used enlarged twin kidney grilles on the 328, 327, 320 and 303 models. While not as wide as this modern interpretation, they stretched the full length of the front fascia, and created a visually distinct look in their own right.
Moving back to the present, and the grilles are not the only element that has grown, with the whole car itself growing by 5.2 inches in length, with the wheelbase going up by 1.6 inch. It’s also an inch wider than before. In fact, the 2021 4-Series actually eclipses the old 3-Series sedan in length, with the 4-Series besting it by 2.2 inches. Lastly, it appears that the M440i xDrive appears to get more aggressive bodywork and matte grey trim.
Meanwhile, the interior of the 2021 4-Series features a very traditional BMW cockpit, with familiar switches and knobs being angled towards the driver, and avoiding excessive curves and angles. Standard equipment includes an 8.8 inch touchscreen infotainment system as well as a separate 5.1 inch screen that is mounted in the gauge cluster. But naturally, bigger is always better, and buyers can choose an optional 10.25 inch instrument screen as well as a bigger 12.5 inch infotainment screen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are standard too along with a sunroof to help let in extra sunshine. A host of safety features is also standard too including automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning. More exotic tech like Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and various camera and parking sensors will still remain optional goodies.
Performance for the 2021 BMW 4-Series will come from a duo of engines that should be very familiar to BMW loyalists. A 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder serves as the base engine for 430i and 430i xDrive models, but it has more power than before, with the boosted four banger now checking in with 255 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque. Buyers looking for more power can choose the venerable 3.0 liter turbocharged inline six, which has also seen a boost in power with 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque now firmly in play for those that choose the M440i variant. Transmission offerings have also changed, with the 2021 4-Series dumping the base manual for an eight speed automatic transmission across the board. BMW claims that the manual was a slow seller, and it was an outlier that could only be equipped to the outgoing 430i, 440i, and the M440i xDrive. Rear wheel drive is standard fare on the base 430i, with all-wheel drive being either standard or optional as you climb higher up the 4-Series trim ladder. Like other recent BMW models, the M440i’s six cylinder engine is paired with a 48-volt starter/generator hybrid assist system that not only makes up to 11 extra horsepower when needed, but it also operates an all new start/stop system that can work at speeds up to 9 mph when the car is decelerating.
The M440i also gets a few extra pieces of performance equipment to go along with the M in its name, with the car coming equipped standard with the M Sport electronically controlled limited slip differential, a firmer M Sport performance suspension, as well as upgraded brakes with four piston calipers for the front discs. All of these features can also be equipped to the 430i, but only as stand alone optional extras.
The 2021 BMW 4-Series is on track to arrive at BMW dealerships this October, with the base model staring at $46,595. Adding all-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the final sticker and climbing the trim ladder raises the price accordingly as well with the base M440i xDrive starting at $59,945. BMW also revealed that the big grilles will not be on every BMW model, with the German car company reserving that treatment for special models.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.