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Imagine, if you will, that you have a crystal ball and within that ball, you can see BMW’s future. What do you see 5 years from now? 10 years from now? 20 years from now? Do you see crazy sports cars, an allotment of high-spend luxury cars, or a simple evolution of the cars the brand offers today? Well, if you look at the BMW Concept 4, the what you should be seeing is grille….lots and lots of big grilles. After all, that has been the most controversial thing about the new Concept 4, a model that’s said to represent, at least in some form, the next-gen 4 Series. That means other models, should this grille find its way to the next-gen 4 Series, could feature a similar look down the road as well. For now, though, let’s take a closer look at the Concept 4 and see what more there is to it outside of that massive grille.

BMW Concept 4 Exterior Design

  • A face only a mother could love
  • Represents the next-gen 4 Series
  • More aerodynamic than expected
  • Has a blend of muscle and sports car DNA
  • Must be toned down for production
2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
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There’s no denying that the Concept 4 is actually a rather sporty vehicle. The front end features a sleek pair of headlights that are stylish and attractive, and the hood is muscular to the point that it borders on the realm of what you would expect on a sports car.

The hood is actually exceptionally long, extending forward to create an overhang above the headlights and fit nearly seamlessly with that massive grille on the nose.

The front fascia has a lot of appeal to it as well – those corner vents have that aggressive feel that we’ve come to expect more from M cars than your standard entry-level 4 series but the problem, I fear, is that they are more aesthetic than purposeful, and that will certainly be the case if this design, even slightly toned down, is carried over to the next-gen 4 Series.

The elephant in the room here is that big ass grille from which there is no escape. It’s almost like that creepy old picture of your grandparents – you know, the one where their eyes follow you regardless of where you are in the room? That’s exactly what this grille does. Whether you’re looking at it straight on or from the side, it’s staring you right in the face. There’s even a myth that it’s so big you can see it from behind the car, but we haven’t seen that yet. In all seriousness, though, BMW seems to have an addiction with pushing the extremes when it comes to grille size. We thought the grille on the 8 Series was big, but the Concept 4’s grille simply dwarfs it – at least in height, anyway. The 8 Series grille, on the other hand, would look downright amazing with the rest of the front end’s design, so hopefully that’s the path BMW will take as this moves into production

2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
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The grille on the front end might be controversial, but the Concept 4’s side profile is downright stunning with the exception of the oddly shaped, somewhat triangular mirrors. The beltline has a nice little kink to it just beyond the door, and the shape of the greenhouse is sporty yet gives us the impression that rear headroom is actually quite plentiful. The way the trim around the side glass is thicker at the rearmost point helps to give the premium feel that otherwise wouldn’t exist here.

The rear haunches are downright muscular but aren’t over defined thanks to the way BMW kept that crease on the rear quarters rather subdued.

The bodyline in the center that runs across the door is kind of like a stepping stone to the overly aggressive side skirts and concave section of the door that feeds into the fender vent that may or not allow for air to flow through from the front end. We’re guessing it doesn’t, but we’ve been wrong before. And, while BMW needs to do something about those side-view mirrors, those wheels are a must-have for the next-gen 4 Series.

2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
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Look at the Concept 4 straight on from the rear gives us mixed feelings to some extent. First off, those mirrors feel way to dominant from this angle. Maybe it’s the rectangular nature of the glass or the sharp point on the upper outside corner, but they are definitely an eyesore form this view, regardless of how modern they really are. The other downside to the rear design is the small rear windscreen.

It actually appears as if the Concept 4 is a hatchback, which is okay by us, but it feels like rear visibility could be hampered by how small it really is.

The way the rear decklid meets up with the rear quarters to create an overhang is a huge styling plus, though, and those taillights are something else you can expect to see move into production. We’re not sure what to think of the rear vents or the rear diffuser, but chances are none of what you see below the decklid will make it to production, at least not on models that fall outside of the M category. An M4 for example, might feature a similar fascia and diffuser but the entry-level 4? Not so much.

Overall, the design of the Concept 4 is pretty attractive, but BMW has gone a little too far with the grille and the mirrors. The fake vents and, probably, fake exhaust outlets are two things we’re definitely not fond up. If this really does hint at the next-gen 4 Series, there is a lot to be excited about, but BMW really needs to rethink the design of the nose and those mirrors if it’s going to be as big a hit as it could be appearance-wise.

BMW Concept 4 Interior Design

  • No official word on the interior design
  • Probably a stadnard 4 Sereis interior
  • Production model will feature improve tech
  • Proably more driver-focused than ever
2019 BMW 8 Series Interior
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The image you see above isn’t from the Concept 4 – It’s of the BMW 8 Series’ interior. In fact, we’re not even sure if the Concept 4 even has an interior at this point. BMW has all of the windows, including the windshield and rear windscreen, completely blacked out and, as you guessed, we found the car locked up like Fort Knox on stage too. Even asking nicely to see the inside was met with an abrupt and firm “no.” So, what could be hiding behind the glass? Probably next to nothing. Or, it could be a basic 4 Series interior since BMW has, probably, used that as a starting canvas to build this concept.

With the next-gen 4 Series expected to debut in the next year or two in production form – the current model has been on the market since 2013, so the sooner the better – there’s a good chance that the interior of the model based on this concept will closely resemble that of the 8 Series interior that you see displayed above.

Since the 4 Series will continue to be a driver’s car, you can expect a digital instrument cluster, slightly larger infotainment screen and, more than likely, revised seating that will take the 4 Series closer to the quality level of the 8 Series today.

Of course, BMW will save the best materials and tech for the range-topping M4, but even the entry-level model should represent a huge departure from the soon-to-be 7-year-old 4 Series on the market today.

BMW Concept 4 Drivetrain and Performance

  • No official information to go by
  • 430i trim could see 255 horsepower
  • 440i trim could see 330 horsepower
  • M4 could offer 430 horsepower
  • Should be 200 pounds or so lighter than current 4 Series
  • Should be one-tenth quicker to 60 mph
  • 155 mph top speed
2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
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As was the case with the interior, BMW saw no benefit to enlightening us about what was going on under the Concept 4’s hood. This concept is coined as the “new face of the 4 Series range,” so even if BMW had divulged some kind of detail, there wouldn’t be anything all that new. Considering this concept is loosely based on the current 4 Series, and does represent the next-gen 4 Series, there’s either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 3.0-liter inline-six. In the current model, the four-banger is good for 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque while the inline-six mill generates 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque.

Of course, the latter holds true for the 440i trim with the M4 offering considerably better performance at 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

So, if we were to look into that crystal ball I mentioned a way’s back and saw what BMW crammed under the hood of the next-gen 4 Series, we would probably see the same engine arrangement with new technology for better efficiency and just a little bit of extra power – remember, BMW can’t go bonkers here as it can’t overextend one model into the category of the next. With that in mind, the entry-level 4 Series with a toned-down design of what you see here will probably rock the same 2.0-liter but tuned to deliver closer to 255 horsepower and a similar amount of torque. The same story will hold true for the 3.0-liter in the 440i, which should see a bump up to – at most – 330 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. Don’t expect the next-gen M4 to go above 430 horsepower.

2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
- image 860611

Performance of the next-gen 4 Series (or this Concept 4, if you will) will actually be improved because BMW has a system in place to keep everyone happy. See, power increases will be mostly negligible – a few extra ponies here and there don’t mean a lot – but the Concept 4 also represents a decrease in weight. It won’t be much, but BMW has a trend of using lighter materials through each generation and the Concept 4, in production guise, will be no different. I’d expect curb weight to probably drop by a couple hundred pounds. Models equipped with the seven-speed DCT will probably see slightly quicker and smoother shifts depending on the driving mode selected too. As such, the Concept 4, and the next-gen 4 Series it represents, should offer sprint times that are at least one-tenth of a second better than the current generation.

Final Thoughts

2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
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Considering the language used by BMW when the Concept 4 was released, what we’ve seen here is, without a doubt, a preview of what the next-gen 4 Series will look like. BMW seems pretty confident that the massive grille will be a big hit, but if you’ve even set eye on social media or google “Concept 4” you’ll see that the design is, for better or worse, unanimously disliked among journalists and fanboys alike. Sure, there are a few out there that are into it, but don’t expect this grille to grow in popularity like the grille on the 8 Series did. If anything changes from this concept to the next-gen 4 Series, you can expect the front end to be toned down at the very least. We’ll see about the grille, but the 430 and 440i models will never bee as aggressive as the Concept 4.

Most of that aggression will likely be saved for the next-gen M4 because, let’s be honest, how much more aggressive could this car get without looking downright ridiculous?

The M4 will have to be the most aggressive of the pack, and that’s just the way it is.

Overall, I like the Concept 4, I really do, but I think we need to have an intervention for BMW and it’s love for big grilles. Otherwise, I’m all for BMW carrying over most of this design. Will BMW hear the cries for a smaller 8-Series-like grille or will the company be forced to do a fast facelift a year or two after its debut kind of like Chevy had to do with the Camaro not that long ago?

Further reading

2019 BMW Concept 4 Exterior
- image 860572

The BMW Concept 4 Makes It Clear That BMW Has a Grille Problem

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 846376

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 BMW 4 Series Convertible.

2018 BMW M4
- image 725565

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M4.

2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 702112

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe.

2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible High Resolution Exterior
- image 714805

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
About the author

The aesthetic essence of a modern BMW coupe.

Munich. The 68th IAA Cars show in Frankfurt is the venue for the unveiling of the BMW Concept 4 – a future-focused interpretation of the BMW Group’s enduring DNA that represents the magic of coupe driving at its most exciting.

“The BMW Concept 4 embodies the aesthetic essence of the BMW brand. It combines perfect proportions with a clear and precise design,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.

The front end – the new face of the 4 Series range.

The BMW Concept 4 hovers close to the road. The distinctive kidney grille, remarkable air intakes and prominently sculpted surfaces provide an immediate advert for the car’s performance and its engaging character as a driver’s car.

Grabbing the attention at the heart of the front end is the vertical kidney grille. “The kidney grille has always been a signature feature of BMW cars,” reflects Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “The BMW Concept 4 presents a confident and classy take on this iconic feature. At the same time, the BMW Concept 4 offers a look ahead to the expressive face of the 4 Series range.” The vertically oriented grille fits seamlessly into both the proportions of the front end and BMW’s illustrious past. Indeed, its form and design reference legendary classics such as the BMW 328 or the BMW 3.0 CSi and therefore shine the spotlight on the BMW brand’s long and successful history as a maker of fine coupes.

The kidney grille is also home to some elaborate details. The grating itself contains horizontal trim elements with a faceted cut which create a neat contrast against the sporty design of the front end and lend depth and exclusivity to the grille. Look closer and another highlight is revealed: the intricate grating within the kidneys and air intakes, which is made up of an array of small “number 4s” joined together.

The slim and focused twin headlights are slightly angled and team up with the kidney grille to lend the front end a modern look with a strong identity. The striking LED light elements have no glass cover; instead they are worked into the body like three-dimensional sculptures. This allows them to bring an even greater sense of modernity and technical sophistication to the front end. The sharply contoured bonnet extends the lines of the front end through powerful volumes and edging of precision. The bold surfacing frames the kidney grille like a gemstone.

The side – the aesthetic essence of a modern BMW coupe.

The BMW Concept 4 displays BMW’s signature proportions at their most modern form yet. The stretched bonnet, long wheelbase, flowing roofline and short overhangs create a modern, elegant and dynamic coupe outline and send energy coursing through the low-slung body even while it’s standing still. Within the silhouette, the ultra-pure surfaces of the new BMW Concept 4 form a powerful main body. The interplay of tautly chiselled volumes and a small number of extremely precise contours create a rare sense of emotion and dynamism. The expressive exterior paint tone Forbidden Red accentuates the car’s surfaces particularly vividly; those in the light at any one time project a rich, glossy red, while shade creates an almost black effect and a striking contrast. The interaction of contours and volumes therefore exude a dramatic sense of radiance and depth.

The athletic body incorporates a slender glasshouse with a narrow window aperture, which further emphasises the dynamism of the side. The long, sweeping roofline flows smoothly into the boot lid, giving the rear end a high-class and sporty aesthetic. The bulging rear wheel arches lend visual expression to the power coursing through the rear wheels and accentuate the muscular shoulders higher up. The slender area above the front wheels, meanwhile, strikes a neat dynamic balance. Its tempered volumes enhance visual agility and lightness. Together, the two sets of wheel arches give the new BMW Concept 4 a powerful and confident stance.

A horizontal main line between the wheel arches takes the place of a classical contour line in shaping the character of the flanks. It runs relative low down along the side of the car, creating a low visual centre of gravity. Further down, another character line rises dynamically from the rear of the front wheels towards the boot lid, bringing extra agility into the mix.

Sophisticated details at second glance.

Look at the BMW Concept 4 more closely and further classy details are revealed. The minimalist, two-section exterior mirrors emerge harmoniously out of the weather strips. The lower section in polished aluminium extends the weather strip in a flowing movement and becomes a mirror surface, while the aerodynamically optimised rear section is in body colour and rounds off the design of the mirrors in dynamic fashion. On the inside of the mirrors is an apparently floating BMW logo, which only comes to light on more detailed inspection.

The light-alloy wheels of the BMW Concept 4 are equally rich in detail. The 21-inch items represent a heavily “dished” take on the sporty five-spoke design, drawing the eye into their centre-points. The fronts of the intricate spokes have a high-polished finish, while the set-back surfaces are finely ground to create a slightly darker effect and give the rim design a sophisticated contrast.

The rear end – clear, eye-catching, dynamic.

The rear of the BMW Concept 4 sits low over the road, as befits a sporty car. The character line transitions from the flanks into the rear end in a broad, horizontal sweep and visually reduces the coupe’s height off the ground even further. Picking up where the front end left off, generously sized and clear surfaces with only a small number of lines are the dominant theme. Purism runs through every element of the rear end and creates a prominent tail graphic. The sporty glasshouse is indented into the powerful body, allowing it to chisel broad and athletic shoulders into the BMW Concept 4’s design. The vertical air outlets frame the lower section of the rear and emphasise the car’s broad stance. The LED rear lights consist of a single fibre-optic element, which lends the familiar BMW L shape a cutting-edge “heartbeat” graphic and dispenses with a glass cover. Their contours underscore the sportingly horizontal focus of the rear end and accentuate its brawny stance on the road. The striking diffuser integrated into the muscular rear apron sets the seal on the car’s rear-end design. Its vertical fins break up the clean surfaces of the car’s tail to send a statement of fine sporting pedigree, while the High-gloss Black paint finish with metallic particles lend it additional visual impact. The pair of exhaust tailpipes highlight a new and dynamic free-form, a detail of the BMW Concept 4’s design that expresses what this car is all about: the modern essence of a coupe oozing aesthetic appeal from every pore.

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Press release

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