BMW finally ditches the hardtop

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BMW is set to launch an all-new 4-Series two-door sometime in 2019 or 2020, and while the G23 coupe version will not feature any dramatic changes over the current model, the G22 droptop will. Spy shots indicate that for the first time in two generations (E93 and F33), BMW is giving up on the folding hardtop design in favor of the more traditional soft top option which it last used on the E46 model discontinued in 2006.

Heavy camouflage covers the prototype spotted, but this important change is quite evident as the canvas top is left completely bare (quite obviously on purpose). It might be an illusion caused by the camo, but it also appears this new 4-Series has a longer hood and rear decklid compared to its predecessor.

Update 12/30/2019: The BMW 4 Series Convertible was caught on the back of a transport on the way to some final testing before its big debut. Check out the latest pictures in our “Spy Shots” section below.

Spy Shots

December 30, 2019 – BMW 4 Series Convertible Sitting on a Transport Carrier

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 878112

This time around, there aren’t a lot of changes to note, but we can see that most of the heavy padding on the prototype is now gone. The production headlamps and tail lamps are in place, but they are still largely covered by tape. The side profile does seem to feature a sharper body line, while the front end is still covered too much to reveal the larger kidney grilles that have been all but confirmed. The same can be said for the coupe, but we do know the updated 4 Series will feature at least some 8 Series DNA, so it should be quite a looker even with the larger grilles. Expect the 4 Series to debut in the first half of 2020 as a 2021 model.

June 24, 2019 – BMW 4 Series Cruising With the Top Down

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 846372

Up to this point, we’ve only seen the next-gen 4 Series Convertible testing with its top up but, this time around, our photographers have managed to catch the next-gen 4 Series drop top with the top and windows down, giving us a clear look of its overall profile. It’s the usual story and generally dull above the beltline, however, since this is a soft top, the new 4 Series convertible should offer considerably more cargo room, and it will be lighter than before as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good look at the interior, but with this model slated to go on sale in 2020 as a 2021 model, expect its debut to happen in early 2020. It could, potentially, debut in September at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

March 29,. 2019 - BMW 4 Series Convertible Caught on Video During Cold Weather Testing

January 2, 2019 – BMW 4 Series Convertible Cruising the Streets in Style

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 811965
2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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As you can see not a lot has changed since the last time we saw the drop-top 4. In terms of exterior styling, the only big news here is that we’ve learned the new 4 Series will feature a front grille that’s inspired by the 2020 BMW Z4. More importantly, however, is the fact that we’ve finally gotten a decent look at the interior. All we can say at this point is…. 3 Series. Seriously, folks. It looks like BMW engineers just copy and pasted the interior from the 3 Series into the 4 Series. The only thing we can spot outside of the camo and general design is the new button near the electric parking brake that is used to operate the convertible top. As a reminder, this generation of the 4 Series Convertible will actually feature a soft top that isn’t just lighter but does wonders in terms of exterior styling.


2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 796365

Aside from making the soft top intentionally visible, the prototype spotted hides all details very well. It may have slightly different proportions compared to the current model, but it’s too early to tell.

Its front and rear fascias will be more aggressive versions of what the new 3-Series has - its official reveal will take place at next month’s Paris Motor Show.

Once we see the sedan and wagon model, we’ll be able to make more educated guesses as to what the coupe and cabriolet may look like.

One way they could go to differentiate four- and two-door models is to take inspiration from the flagship 8-Series in order to make the latter stand out. BMW is discontinuing the 6-Series nameplate altogether, so it may want the two models to seem more closely related from a visual standpoint (a strategy it could also extend to the next 2-Series).


2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe High Resolution Interior
- image 702142
If previous versions of the model are anything to go by, the new 4-Series will have an interior lifted straight from its four-door counterpart.

We can’t specifically say what that entails yet, as all prototypes spotted have had their interiors curtained off.

But realistically, we can expect something very similar to what the automaker already offers in its new X3 and X4 models. The center console buttons and controls, the dials, the infotainment, and the steering wheel will probably be carried over to the 3- and 4-Series.


2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 796369

Expect the next 4-Series convertible (as well as the coupe and four-door) to offer both gasoline and diesel engines, as well as electrified powertrains - all of which will be shared with the 3-Series with which it shares the CLAR architecture.

Expect it to shed around 100 pounds compared to the current F33 generation, if information on the 3-Series is anything to go by. It should also sit 10 millimeters lower too.

The 4-Series will most likely skip the very bottom of the engine range and be offered mostly with 2.0-liter four-cylinder as well as 3.0-liter six-cylinder mills with turbocharging. Be that as it may, a 1.5-liter three-pot cannot be excluded at this point, as anything is possible.

One of the aforementioned engines is apparently the most powerful four-pot ever fitted to a series BMW (over 260 horsepower), and it could be badged as a 330i M Sport, although M330i has a nicer ring to it.
Hopefully, it will be offered with a manual gearbox option too.


BWM usually announces pricing for its models in the time frame between their official debut and them reaching showrooms. The current 4-Series starts from just under $53,000 in the U.S., and for that, you get a 430i with rear-wheel drive only.


Mercedes C-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior
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Launched in 2016 as the first C-Class-badged drop top ever, the current W205 Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is a very classy alternative in the segment. It looks like a shrunken S-Class, it has a wide range of available engines, and its interior is unmatched in the segment for its luxury feel.

It too comes with a power-folding soft top, and it looks especially good with it stowed away, although the wind deflector Mercedes gives you to reduce top-down turbulence in the cabin kind of spoils its lines when erected. You can have one from $51,200 before options.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet.

Audi A5

2017 Audi A5 Convertible High Resolution Exterior
- image 694380

Audi will sell you its A5 Cabriolet starting at $49,600, and for that, you get the best interior in its class in terms of quality, design, and technology (although a well-specced C-Class may still feel more luxurious). From the outside, the A5 is very clean and is really pleasant to behold thanks to its great proportions, and it too looks better with its electric soft top hidden away.

Motivating base versions is a 2.0-liter TFSI, which is normal in this company, but the Audi has standard Quattro all-wheel drive - rivals will have you pay extra for it.

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi A5 Convertible.


2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
- image 796372

It’s too early to reach any kind of conclusion on the next 4-Series convertible, but between its new (lighter, more compact, and possibly more stylish) soft top, lighter overall weight, and more focus on providing rewarding handling, there’s little not to like.

If it turns out to look like an 8-Series-inspired foldable roof version of the next 3-Series (with hints of new Z4), then there’s nothing to complain about there either. Inside, it will most likely mirror the design and quality of the excellent X3 and bristle with the latest gadgets - it all sounds pretty good and makes the model a highly anticipated one in its segment.

  • Leave it
    • Could have a three-cylinder
    • May not be offered in M-form

Further reading

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

Update History

Update 06/24/2019: We’ve received new images of the 2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible testing with its top and side windows down. Check out the spy shots section below to see how it looks for yourself.

Update 03/29/2019: How spy photographers managed to catch the 2020 BMW 4 Series Convertible on video as it performed some cold weather testing. Check it out for yourself in our "Spy Shots" section below!

Update 01/02/2019: We’ve managed to catch the BMW 4 Series Convertible, and while much hasn’t changed outside we do finally get a look at the interior. Check out the spy shots section below to learn more.

Andrei Nedelea
Andrei Nedelea
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