2021 BMW 430i, M440i xDrive preview

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BMW is in the final stages of developing the next-generation 4 Series. It published images of a fully camouflaged test mule driving flat-out on a race track and a smattering of technical specifications to whet our appetite.

The current-generation model inaugurated the 4 Series nameplate in 2013 as a way to step out of the 3’s shadow, and the company confirmed it asked its engineering teams to dial in several additional degrees of separation. Called G22 internally, the 4 is approximately two inches lower and more aerodynamic than the latest 3 Series. It’s also a tiny bit wider out back. BMW explained these seemingly minor changes amount to a major difference in handling, especially because most of the suspension tuning is specific to the 4.

It’s sharper to drive than the 3, noticeably more agile, and much quicker around bends, according to the company. It needs to be; its rivals will include Audi’s road-hugging RS 5 and Mercedes-AMG’s enthralling C63.

There isn’t much to say about the coupe’s design until we’ve seen it in the metal. BMW’s images (and recent spy shots) confirm the 4 will look a lot like the Concept 4 introduced at the 2019 edition of the Frankfurt auto show. Yes, the grille is absolutely gigantic, and no, BMW doesn’t care; it doesn’t think buyers will mind, either. 

At launch, the lineup will consist of an entry-level model called 430i powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Autocar learned it’s bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Moving up in the range will take motorists to the M440i xDrive, which will receive a 3.0-liter straight-six tuned to deliver 374 horsepower thanks in part to a 48-volt mild hybrid system that improves off-the-line and in-gear acceleration by sending a jolt of electricity through the driveline. The straight-six is also bolted to an eight-speed, paddle-shifted automatic transmission. We don’t know if a stick-shift will be offered yet.

We expect the next-generation BMW 4 Series will make its debut in the coming months, though it might break cover online instead of at a standalone event or at an auto show. It will begin arriving in American showrooms in time for the 2021 model year. Looking ahead, the family will expand with the addition of a hot-rodded M4, a convertible, a Gran Coupe-badged four-door fastback, and an electric sedan previewed by the i4 concept.

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Saurabh Shukla

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