BMW drops 2021 4 Series coupe, with no word of a manual gearbox

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Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

In-person media events are on hold for now, so rather than debuting its newest model at an auto show, BMW pulled the wraps off its 2021 4 Series during a live stream event.

After finally setting our eyes on the production version of BMW’s sporty entry-level coupe, we’re happy to say that the new, large grille is beginning to look like it belongs. While the 4 Series shares quite a bit of styling with the i4 concept, the production 4’s larger headlights soften the impact of the vertical twin-kidney grille. The result? The 4 Series we’ll see roaming the streets this October looks far less like a deranged rodent than we once feared.

2021 BMW 4 Series
Fabian Kirchbauer Photography

BMW designer Domagoj Dukec had a few poetic words for the styling of the new 4 Series, describing its shape as “self-confident and expressive,” but the lines speak for themselves quite well. We particularly like the fastback roofline and the quarter-panel glass, which has just a hint of a Hoffmeister kink to keep the C-pillar from looking too thin at the bottom.

So far, we have under-the-hood details on seven of BMW’s upcoming 4 Series models:

2021 BMW M440i rear deck
  • A naturally aspirated, 184-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder will power the 420i.
  • The 430i will use a 255-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
  • The M440i xDrive will sport a 374-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six to send power to all four wheels.
  • A 2.0-liter, 190-hp diesel four-cylinder will power the rear-drive 420d and all-wheel-drive 420d xDrive.
  • A 3.0-liter, 286-hp inline-six diesel is coming early next year for the 430d xDrive, along with a 340-hp version for the 440d xDrive.

All models except for the gas-powered, four-cylinder 420i and 430i will also use a 48V mild-hybrid system that adds 11 hp. An eight-speed Steptronic transmission comes standard with all 4 Series models, with a Steptronic Sport eight-speed optional. However, despite the wide variety of powerplants, BMW didn’t say a word about a manual gearbox.

Until the M4’s arrival, the 374-hp M440i xDrive will sit atop the 4 Series range. It’s this model that BMW’s R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich drove around a track in the unveiling video, joyfully oversteering the M440i xDrive around a series of left-handers. Fröhlich noted that the new 4 Series has a lower center of gravity and is a bit wider than its predecessor (2 cm). Naturally, handling and responsiveness were among engineers’ top priorities for the new 4 Series, with Fröhlich demanding his team deliver a precision driving tool—a “scalpel,” as he put it. Of course, we haven’t driven the new 4, but Fröhlich certainly made it look fun.

Though we expect a four-door 4 Series to continue BMW’s Gran Coupe line, we’re awaiting news on the next M4 with significantly more excitement. For now, we’re still debating whether we actually like the looks of the new 4 Series or if BMW’s previous wild concepts simply dulled our senses to accept the production version. Either way, well done, BMW.

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