Sleek and sophisticated, it is easy to think of the 2021 BMW 4 Series as the two-door version of the 3 Series. However, the 4 Series has its own unique design and capabilities that make it stand out - not just from its sibling, but from the rest of its competition. Whether you get the 4 Series as a coupe or a convertible, there are undeniably gorgeous and eye-catching elements on the outside that will make you want to take a peek at what lies within.
The 4 Series has been totally redesigned for the 2021 model year, kicking off the second generation of the 4 Series. It has the same powertrain options as what you will find in the 3 Series, so you know you will be getting something powerful. All of them provide even quicker acceleration rates than what you would have gotten on the first generation's engines. Also, the M440i's turbo 3.0-L inline-6 cylinder comes with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that, during hard acceleration, can boost power output by up to 11 hp. It also aids in improving the fuel economy.
Overall, you get a blended balance of power and comfort from the 4 Series. The engines are all powerful indeed but also offer fuel efficiency that is hard to find in the luxury segment. And, of course, the interior is beautifully designed with a lot of BMW's trademark luxury elements.
But one of the things you might not like is the style of the revised grille. It isn't large, and it looks like two chrome-encircled circles smashed together with a chrome line down the center. It just doesn't seem practical or attractive, especially since a larger grille would give a more aggressive, athletic impression.
Also, we have two more qualms with the 4 Series that might impact your decision to buy. The first is that BMW nixed the manual transmission on the first generation. You will have to make due with the 8-speed automatic transmission. Second, the iDrive system is less user-oriented than before, for the sake of coming off as being super high-tech. Many drivers still do not want - much less feel comfortable with using - ultra techy features. The old system might not have been the most tech savvy, but it was easy to use.
That being said, let's take a look at what comes on each of the 2021 BMW 4 Series' trim levels. There are three different options to choose from, with the first two basically being front- and all-wheel drive variants of each other. The third, of course, is the higher-powered M440i xDrive. We will go over their different mechanical specs and standard and optional features before, in the conclusion, letting you know which trim level we think offers the best deal.
Compare the 2021 BMW 4 Series 430i vs 430i xDrive. What is the difference?
There is one essential difference between the base 4 Series 430i and the 430i xDrive. If you are unfamiliar with BMW's drivetrain lingo, 'xDrive' refers to an all-wheel drive drivetrain. Everything else is front-wheel drive. Therefore, you can now tell the difference between these two trims. A few select features do get added to the xDrive, so pay attention to those.
Let's start things off by talking about their engine - a 2.0-L twin-turbo inline-4 cylinder engine that gets a power output of 255 hp. It gets paired with the standard 8-speed automatic transmission, which has Launch Control, Sport and Manual shift modes, and paddle shifters mounted onto the steering wheel. Other standard performance features include electronic throttle control, an auto start/stop feature, knock control with the direct injection system, electronically controlled engine cooling, and ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT, and SPORT+ modes with the Driving Dynamics Control.
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) comes equipped with Dynamic Traction Control, brake drying, and compensation for brake fading. The parts of the chassis are built to be lightweight, as speed is a factor in this vehicle's appeal. The high-precision steering and tailored axle kinematics aid in this. The front suspension is a double-pivot with an anti-roll bar and spring struts while the rear suspension is a 5-link with upper transverse arms done in cast-aluminum. Servotronic power-assisted steering, twin-tube gas pressure shock absorbers, and lightweight, high-performance 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes come equipped as well.
The standard 18-inch wheels have a chic V-spoke bi-color orbit grey design that catches the eye. The side mirrors are heated and power-folding, and you can take your pick of non-metallic paint options on these two trims. The exterior also comes adorned with Shadowline trim and air breathers.
Inside, the seats are treated to SensaTec upholstery, and the trim is done in a gorgeous (and definitely luxurious) Open Pore Fine Wood Oak Grain. That all gets capped off by a standard anthracite headliner.
Of course, what really matters is what kind of technology comes equipped, both in terms of infotainment and safety. We will start with the former. As we already mentioned in the intro section above, the new iDrive infotainment system is nowhere near as user-friendly as the outgoing version. This one has a steep learning curve and is trying very hard to be next-gen when current-gen will undoubtedly suffice.
That being said, the standard BMW TeleServices system can come in handy, and this vehicle is capable of receiving remote software upgrades a few times per year. BMW ConnectedDrive Services and smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. There is also a Connected Package Professional, which gives you a plethora of handy features. These include the Intelligent Personal Assistant (which features voice recognition and navigation), concierge services, Hazard Preview, Remote Door Unlock, Stolen Vehicle Recovery, the BMW Connected App, and Real-Time Traffic Information. It is a complex system, sure, but one that provides a ton of useful data.
Looking for crystal-clear sound quality from a sound system? Then you might like the 10-speaker HiFi Sound System and its 205-watt digital amplifier. You also get a 1-year All Access Subscription to SiriusXM with 360L. There is also HD Radio, an in-dash AM/FM anti-theft stereo, and a CD/MP3 player.
In the cockpit, you will find a 3-spoke steering wheel with multiple functions mounted onto it, done in sport style and wrapped in leather. Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio is equipped, and you get USB ports for audio connection as well. Live Cockpit Plus adds the 8.8-inch central information display and 8.8-inch analog instrument cluster with a 5.1-inch horizontal display. It also gives you the iDrive 7.0 infotainment system and iDrive touchpad controller (which some drivers might find to be irritating). Dynamic cruise control, a rear window defroster, and a tire pressure monitoring system round out the list of instrumentation and control features.
BMW, quite naturally, is all about luxury. So, as you can easily imagine, they pack a ton of creature comforts into their cabins. The 4 Series is no exception. Both 430i models come with an engine start/stop button, Advanced Vehicle and Key Memory (which recalls things like radio settings and power seat positions), automatic air recirculation and a micro-filter for the automatic climate control system, 10-way power adjustable front sport seats (with 2-way power side bolstering and 2-way manual headrests), a center arm rest up front, a tilting and telescoping steering column, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and driver's side outer mirror.
Add to that even more creature comforts! You also get a one-touch 2-way power glass moonroof, one-touch auto-up/down on the front and rear windows, a locking glovebox, an electric interior trunk release, automatic headlight control with the rain-sensing windshield wipers, a universal garage door opener, and a host of storage compartment features that help you organize.
Last of all, we need to talk safety - something that BMW takes quite seriously. It crams a lot of features in to help keep you protected. Some of those features are adaptive brake lights, automatic high beams, the LATCH system for child safety seats, LED daytime running lights that can be programmed, an impact sensor (which sets off the Battery Safety Terminal disconnection of the alternator, starter, and battery from the fuel pump when a crash is imminent), and a rear-view camera. Driver aids include forward collision warning with automatic city collision braking and braking, the Active Protective System (which braces the cabin for an upcoming impact), BMW Assist eCall(with emergency request features), and BMW Remote Services. You also get the Active Driving Assistant, which has forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, speed limit info, and lane departure warning.
Compare the 2021 BMW 4 Series 430i xDrive vs M440i xDrive - What is the Difference?
So, how does the M440i build on all of that? Well, for starters, it has a beefier engine. Its 3.0-L twin-turbo inline-6 cylinder comes with the eBoost 48-volt mild hybrid powertrain system. There is an upgraded M Sport differential that comes equipped, as well as variable sport steering, M Sport brakes, and the M Sport suspension. And, of course, it is an all-wheel drive model. FWD is not available.
The exterior sees some upgrades as well, starting with with 18-inch M Double-spoke bi-color orbit grey wheels. There is also an aerodynamic kit (to improve speed) and an M rear spoiler that both get added on. Inside, you will find styling upgrades that include aluminum tetragon trim and a SensaTec dash.
Comfort Access keyless entry gets added to the list of standard features, and this gives you hands-free opening of the trunk/lid. Thigh support gets added to the front seats, as does 4-way power adjustable lumbar support. Additional safety features include LED Headlights with cornering lights.
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Which Trim to Choose?
The 2021 BMW 4 Series is clearly a strong contender this year - not just in its segment, but as a luxury vehicle overall. Choose between the coupe or convertible - both look and feel amazing to drive. The biggest challenge you might face is deciding which trim level to buy since you get three solid options here.
What do we recommend? Well, we think that the base 430i is as strong of a base trim as you can get. It is jam-packed with standard features and can come with front- or all-wheel drive. Most drivers will find that FWD will suffice, as the vehicle already has excellent handling capabilities. You might want to consider adding the optional Driving Assistance Professional package since that equips the vehicle with automated driving that is limited to slower speeds and cruise control that adapts to the traffic around you. Nifty, right? We think these additional features are worth the cost when you stick with the 430i.
Regardless of what you decide, the 2021 BMW 4 Series is a solid investment - and a fun one at that. Just take it for a spin on the highway and find out how swiftly it gets up to speed.
• Compare the 2020 BMW 4-Series Trim Levels