Bigger, faster, and a grille you could pull off and use for a BBQ.
Back in 2013, BMW spun off the coupe version of the 3 Series into its own model line, the 4 Series. Since then, the Bavarian automaker has been clear that it plans to make the distinction between 3 Series and 4 Series more pronounced for its second generation. However, people are waiting with bated breath rather than excitement as BMW's Concept 4 show model, prototypes, and leaked images, have all shown that the next-generation exterior design is going to be controversially dramatic.
However, there's much, much, more to any BMW than its grille. The new 4 Series due to be unveiled sometime this year, and this is everything we know so far.
While a BMW is never just a grille, we do need to acknowledge this one. When BMW unveiled the Concept 4 at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show, the world looked at it and shuddered. The rest of the car was great, but the issue is the new enlarged interpretation of BMW's signature "kidney" grille at the front. The more vertical design distances the 4 Series aesthetic from the 3 Series, and even harks back to the early BMW sports cars that cemented the style. The M Sport and Sport Line models will have variations of the new kidney grille styling and different materials around the frame, most likely polished aluminum. Luxury Line cars will get chrome, while Shadow Line trimmed cars will have a high gloss black frame for the grille.
Once we pull our eyes off of the humungous grille, the rest of the 4 Series is full of narrow windows, rakish lines, and some taught looking rear haunches. The LED headlights and front and rear clusters will be slim, but owing a lot to the 3 Series units. In Europe, there will be an option for laser technology in the headlights, but legislation restricts that here in the US.
Overall, the silhouette isn't too far from the current model, and it appears BMW is relying on the grille to a do a lot of the work in making sure people can see the difference in traffic.
Initially, BMW gave the 4 Series two body styles at launch in the form of a coupe and convertible. In 2014, the lineup was expanded to include a four-door fastback body style marketed as the 4 Series Gran Coupe. These will be repeated for the next generation with the chassis codes G22 for the coupe, G23 for the convertible, and G24 for the Gran Coupe. The convertible model will have a more traditional and lighter weight fabric top rather than the current model's retracting hard-roof design.
We've covered the pure-bred M4 previously, but we do know that BMW loves to slap an M in front of a model number in the form of an option package and make those models sportier. We've already seen an M440i out testing, complete with showy blue brake calipers.
Worldwide, the 4 Series will have diesel options we likely won't see here in the US. Enthusiasts will be more interested to know that the hotter 4 Series versions will have a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six making 380 horsepower. Base models will get the still punchy 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 255 hp. It looks like six-speed manual transmissions will still be on the menu, and currently, its a zero-cost option over the 8-speed automatic. Rear-wheel-drive isn't going away, but BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system will be widely available as an option.
While BMW wants to make the 4 Series demonstrably different to the 3 Series, the cost to build it is a factor. To that end, we expect the new 4 Series to sport the same interior as the new 3 Series but with some well-chosen styling touches. That's good news, as the current 3 Series interior is a step up in quality from the current 4 Series offerings, and features a large infotainment screen. The coupe and convertible promise to be larger than the current 4 Series, so we expect that to translate into more room for rear passengers.
We don't expect the price of the next-generation models to go up much, so the base models will start for around the same money. The coupe will be around $45,000, the convertible around $53,000, and the Grand Coupe about $45,000. The coupe is slated to start production in July and the convertible nearer to fall, while the Grand Coupe will join the lineup in 2021.
However, the current worldwide pandemic is going to play havoc on dates; BMW started shutting down factories throughout the world last month. As excited as we are to see and drive the all-new 4 Series, we're more than willing to be patient as BMW does its part to protect its employees and slow the virus transmission rate down.