2021 BMW 430i Coupe by Ben Lewis

Have you ever been all ready to dislike something, and then get won over? Well, we were kind of in that boat with the all-new BMW 4-series coupe. We had seen pictures, heard the grumbling, and based on just that, were ready to give it the cold shoulder.

Except, pictures and grumbling are not a good way to evaluate a car – it needs to be driven. And drive the all-new Bimmer, and you’ll find it easy to love.

Prominent Proboscis

Okay let’s take care of the 800 lb. Gorilla in the room. The 4-series nose. The familiar BMW kidney grille has grown to epic proportions, and at first, it’s a bit of a shock. Strangely after having our tester a couple days, we started to like it. It’s bold, it’s aggressive, and makes a purposeful statement. So much for media grumbling.

Helping out tester’s looks were the optional M Sport Package with larger intake openings that help balance out the large grille, and topped off with signature LED lights, and a powerfully contoured hood, there’s no doubt it’s a BMW, but still looks fresh.

When you see the profile, you realize this is a much larger vehicle than the one it replaces. Compared to the previous-generation 4 Series Coupe, the new model is 5.2 inches longer, 1.0 inch wider, 0.4 inches taller and rides on a 1.6 inch longer wheelbase with 1.4 inch wider front and 1.2 inch wider rear tracks.

The look is pure sport coupe – muscular, with bulgy fenders, scooped-out doors, and in our tester’s case, blacked-out 19-inch M Wheels. For those with a love of all things BMW, you’ll appreciate the Hofmeister-kink, a notch-shape in the C-pillar that is a subtle icon of the brand.

The rear is less controversial than the front, and reminds us of other current BMW product like the M235i Gran Coupe we recently tested, with LED lights that wrap around the sides, and a scooped out rear panel, and M Sport rear bumper with dual polished exhaust pipes poking out of a tough-looking rear fascia. Finishing off things was our tester’s Mineral White Metallic paint, a tasteful color that positively shimmers when the light hits it just right.

From the Cockpit

While the exterior may be controversial, we think everyone will love the new interior. If you’ve been in the new 3 series sedan, or even the M235i Gran Coupe, you’ll find the 4 series very familiar. Being an M Sport model, you’re greeted by a steering wheel as thick as a bratwurst and covered in rich leather. Behind it, the full digital dash display is large and easy to read – although like other BMW’s we still don’t like the tachometer that swings in a counter-clockwise direction!

You can adjust the display in all sorts of fun ways, but we like the traditional big speedo and tach, with the navigation in between, keeping you on course. We also really appreciated that the 430i can read speed limit signs and post them on the dash. Very handy in such a quick car. A large info-tainment touchscreen display is angled towards the driver to create a snug cockpit feel, and seamlessly handles all the connectivity. Or you can access most of the menus from a large center knob conveniently placed next to the shift lever.

BMW makes staying connected easy, with standard wireless Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi and Android Auto. Optional wireless charging is available and highly recommended.

The best connection though, is the driver to the car. The M Sport’s seats are superbly comfortable, adjustable – and in our tester’s rich Mocha Vernasca Leather – a beauty to behold. There are loads of stylish details, including a padded console and dashboard cover, a cool metallic pattern across the center console. You always felt you were sitting someplace special.

Rear seat room is actually quite adult-friendly, but being a coupe, getting back there is not that easy. If you are often bringing  back seaters the sedan may be the better choice. Ditto for trunk space – the coupe is good, but if it’s a major concern, go for the sedan.

Still the Ultimate Driving Machine

Ok, a lot of cars offer these kind of goodies. The new Lexus IS350 F Sport we tested comes to mind. What sets it apart – BMW’s are all about the drive – and the new 430i definitely steps things up. Under the hood of the 430i is an updated version of the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo that lives in so many of the Bavarian’s products. Now boasting 255 hp (up 7) and 294 lb.-ft of torque (an impressive 36 lb.-ft improvement), this is a sweetheart of an engine. First, we think BMW is fibbing the numbers (they do that) and we’d guess there’s even more power than quoted.

The 4 has a nice throaty growl, and just enough texture as it revs to give a thrill. Helping to get your endorphins kicking in is an 8-speed automatic with launch control. While we didn’t attempt drag-strip style starts, we left the auto in Sport Mode all the time and loved the quick upshifts and downshifts through the paddle shifters, all the time savoring the little 4-cylinder as it sings its heart out.

Our tester made sure the corners were just as thrilling as the straights with the optional Dynamic Handling Package, which features M Sport Differential and M Sport Brakes. Add the M Sport Package Variable Sport Steering and standard Adaptive suspension, and you have a chassis that will give a super smooth commute, hunker down for a track day, or just enjoy a beautifully balanced and sporty drive everyday – which is how we used it.

While a 382 horsepower 6-cylinder engine is available in the 440i, we’re not sure we’d spend the extra $8-10k for it. The 4-cylinder is very quick – but not so fast that you can’t exploit and enjoy the power. Responsive, lighter on the nose than the six, and will even get you 35 mpg on the freeway if you stay out of the turbo zone. (Good luck with that!) No, the 430i is a superbly balanced package, that in M Sport guise is a driver’s dream come true.

You Pay for Your Thrills

OK, it’s a BMW, and like most of the European manufacturers, premium comes at a premium. The 430I Coupe starts at $45,600. It would take a resolve of iron to stop there, though. We think our tester was perfectly optioned out, adding the Mineral White Metallic ($550), Mocha Leather ($1,450), Dynamic Handling Package ($2,450), M Sport Package ($3,800), Premium Package ($2,300), Wireless Charging ($500), and Harman Karman Audio ($875). Add in $995 for Destination, and we rang in at $58,520. Not on our tester, AWD is available, and a convertible model with cloth top is coming soon.

Key competitors include the Lexus RC 300 F Sport at $54,040, the Audi A5 at $56,940. Both nice cars, but the 430i is a step above in driving joy. And that’s what a coupe like this is all about.

Stylish, beautifully trimmed out, and a superb sporting drive, the all-new BMW 430i Coupe is once again best in class, and the coupe we’d put in our garage!