The million-dollar question is: will it get the humongous front grille or not?

Remember the excessively polarizing BMW Concept 4 shown at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show? Well, some of its distinctive styling cues are bound to be trickled down to the upcoming BMW 4 Series Coupé and we’ve already seen pics that suggest the oversized kidney grille is one such element.

Although we’ll have to wait a while to see the new 4 Series take a bow, our spy photographers caught a heavily camouflaged test mule and managed to sneak inside for a couple of interior shots. Read all about it and more in the in-depth review below.

Update 4/28/2020: The BMW 4 Series Coupe was spotted testing the the wild once again, this time with much less camo and padding. Check it out in all its glory in the Spy Shots section below!

Spy Shots

April 298, 2020 – BMW 4 Series Coupe With Production Body Panels

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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The last time we saw the BMW 4 Series Coupe, it was so well covered that it looked like it was going to ditch BMW’s controversial and ridiculous new grille design. Of course, we knew this probably wasn’t the case, and a new batch of spy shots have confirmed that we’re right. The prototype that you see here is wearing a complete production makeup from the front end to the rear. As you can see from the front end, the massive kidney grilles will dominate the nose. They will be flanked by a pair of air inlets that, as of now, appear to be closed off. Whether or not they’ll be fake on the production model remains to be seen, so we’ll have to wait on that. The production headlights are also in place. There’s not much that has changed in the rear, but you can see that BMW has dropped the round prototype exhaust outlets and replaced them with the typical trapezoidal outlets. As of now, there’s no official release date, but we expected the 4 Series coupe to launch for the 2021 model year.

Exterior

  • Sloping roof is a prerequisite
  • Styling cues inspired by the 3 Series
  • Long hood
  • Muscular, possibly wider rear end
  • Rear wheel arches and ‘hips’ inspired by the 8 Series
  • LED taillights
  • The burlesque grille is go
  • Lower drag coefficient (0.27-0.26)
2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
- image 875738

The attached spy photos don’t really say much about the new 4 Series’ exterior design. Sure, we know it will be heavily based on the 3 Series, which means that the coupé will sport most of the sedan’s styling cues, minus the two rear doors. A sloping roofline is a must, as is a tad wider rear end that would offer a more planted stance.

Visually, we expect to see the same sculpted bumpers that look so neat on the 3 Series, coupled with an elongated hood, swept-back headlamps, and LED, horizontal-graphic taillights.

AutoExpress also reports that the new BMW 4 Series will borrow some design cues from the larger 8 Series, especially in the rear area, where the strong shoulders/hips on top of the wheel wells will be beefed up compared to the 3er.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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It’s even possible for BMW’s designers to put an effort towards lowering the 4er’s drag coefficient from the current 0.28 value to perhaps 0.27 or even 0.26.

As for the Beaver-teeth front grille, it looks like it’s happening folks. In any case, we’re expecting a toned-down variant of the fascia compared to the BMW Concept 4 shown at Frankfurt 2019, so it could be more in the lines of the current BMW 7 Series. Who knows, maybe it will actually look nice on the production-ready model and fit the overall theme, but we guess only time will tell.

Interior

  • Same topography as the 3 Series
  • New materials and trim options might help the 4er’s cabin stand out
  • Driver-centric cockpit
  • BMW’s latest infotainment tech
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Smaller rear seats
  • Potential BMW i8-inspired steering wheel
  • Less rear and trunk space than the 3er
2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Interior Spyshots Exterior
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Our spy photographers were also able to snap some pics inside a BMW 4 Series test mule, revealing the cabin in all its splendour. Well, not exactly splendour, because the dashboard layout is identical to the 3 Series and given the 4er’s posher attitude (and pricing), we were expecting for something unique - or at least slightly tweaked to some extent. Customers will also get the digital instrument cluster on request and a second screen mounted on top of the center console, serving BMW’s iDrive setup.

Just like inside the 3 Series, every button, control, knob and screen will be slightly tilted towards the driver. BMW likes its cabins to wrap around whoever sits behind the wheel, so expect the 4 Series to deliver just that to a large extent. A big difference could be made via different fit-and-finish options through materials and patterns that are not yet available for the 3 Series. After all, those you buy a 4 Series expect to be spoiled more, so BMW might have something in store here to set the two cabins apart. As they say, the devil is in the detail.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Interior Spyshots
- image 875713

What’s more, if the stylized cockpit picture on the infotainment screen is accurate, then the 4 Series’s steering wheel will look a lot like the one currently fitted to the BMW i8. That in itself would be a neat treat for buyers as it’s bound to spice up the dull-ish cabin.

Moving to the rear, it’s easy to spot that the seats have been resized, as in made smaller and given a cocoon-like shape.

No more than two occupants will be able to sit comfortably in the back of that new 4 Series, something that is only natural since the lack of rear doors coupled with the shorter wheelbase will drastically reduce space in that area. Those who still want a 4er but also crave more rear space will be able to opt for the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, albeit later on in the model’s lifetime.

Drivetrain

  • Most engines will be carried over from the 3 Series
  • 420d, 430d, and their xDrive iterations
  • 420i, 430i, and their xDrive iterations
  • M440i xDrive will top the non-pure-M range with 368 hp and 368 lb-ft
  • 8-speed Steptronic transmission available throughout the range
  • 420d will come standard with the six-speed manual, though
  • 50:50 weight distribution ratio
  • No diesels for the U.S. market
2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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Since the upcoming 4 Series will be virtually a two-door model based on the current BMW 3 Series, expect it to offer a similar engine range.

However, BMW might opt to offer only the most powerful mills available for the 3er, with entry-level variants being ditched completely. After all, the 4 Series Coupé will be a lot more sportier than the sedan with slightly hardcore chassis settings that are fit for a potent powerplant under the hood. Also expect a 50:50 weight distribution ratio between the two axles.

That said, let’s take a look at the current BMW 3 Series engine lineup to see what might be in store for the 4er. We won’t discuss the 18d, because we don’t see it as a good fit for the fancier BMW 4 Series. So, since we are talking diesels, we believe the 4 Series will come in the following guises: 420d, 420d xDrive, 430d, and 430d xDrive. With our without the addition of xDrive, the 420d will rely on an inline-four turbodiesel displacing two liters, with 187 horsepower and 400 Newton-meters (295 pound-feet) of torque on tap. Above it in the food chain, the 430d would offer 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel mill producing 261 horsepower and 580 Newton-meters (428 pound-feet) of torque. The 20d and 20d xDrive variants will offer customers the possibility to choose between a six-speed manual or the crisp-shifting eight-speed Steptronic transmission, while the 30d model will be available exclusively with the latter.

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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Moving on to gasoline engines, the potential spectrum is a tad broader. We could get a 420i (plus the xDrive variant), a 430i (plus the xDrive variant), and the M440i xDrive. The 420i would pack 181 horsepower and 300 Newton-meters (221 pound-feet) of torque coming from a straight-four, 2.0-liter mill, while the 430i would employ the same engine but retuned to produce 254 horsepower and 400 Newton-meters (295 pound-feet) of torque. On top of the pyramid, a potential M440i xDrive would employ an inline-six mill that churns out 368 horsepower and 500 Newton-meters (368 pound-feet) of twist. This variant could be able to dispatch the zero to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) sprint in 4.4 seconds en route to a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour). Regardless of what gasoline engine you pick, you’re only getting the eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox.

It’s also worth noting that the U.S. won’t get a diesel-powered 4 Series - those will be a Europe-only affair. Of course, there’s also going to be an M4 version, but that topic will get more attention in a separate article, as more info emerges.

Prices

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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It’s way too early to discuss prices since the new 4 Series is yet to be introduced officially, yet alone make its market debut. However, we can tell you that Stateside, the 4 Series Coupé starts at $44,950 in 430i guise, while in Germany, the same model is available with a starting sticker of €41,250 (with the manual gearbox). What’s more, we expect the new 4 Series to cost more than the 3er, which in the U.S. starts at $40,750 in 330i guise, while in Germany it demands a price of €39,950.

Competition

Audi A5

2017 Audi A5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 678415

The Audi A5 can be had in the U.S. in 45 TFSI flavor, which means it is powered by a 2.0-liter, inline-four turbocharged gasoline unit tuned to produce 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The oomph is channeled to all four wheels through Audi’s seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. In this setup, the A5 needs 5.6 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill on its way to an electronically-limited top track speed of 130 miles per hour. Three trim levels define the A5 range in the U.S., namely Premium ($44,200), Premium Plus ($47,100), and Prestige ($50,800).

Read our full review on the 2020 Audi A5

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
- image 640374

Mercedes-Benz’s U.S.-focused car lineup offers the C-Class Coupé in two iterations: C 300 Coupé and C 300 4Matic Coupé. Both are powered by the same 2.0-liter, inline-four turbocharged gasoline unit rated at 255 horsepower at 5,800-6,100 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque at 1,800-4,000 rpm. In charge of handling these resources is the silky-smooth 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission which also allows the C 300 to sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds. The C 300 4Matic needs the same time to dispatch the 0-60 run. In the U.S., the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé C 300 starts at $45,950, while the 4Matic requires at least $47,950.

Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

Conclusion

2021 BMW 4 Series Coupé Exterior Spyshots
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There’s a lot of weight to be placed on the shoulders of the upcoming BMW 4 Series. As if the controversial front grille wasn’t enough to add fuel to the fire, the 4er will have stiff competition in the C-Class Coupé and Audi A5. The former has been a favorite among those looking for a plush cabin well-isolated from noise and a comfortable ride, while Ingolstadt’s coupé impresses when it comes to material and assembly quality without falling behind on the performance front. So, to counteract these attributes, the 4 Series will pretty much have to deliver in all departments. Then again, this is BMW we’re taking, so we’re sure Munich took the necessary measures that would make the 4er a worthy adversary for its foes.

  • Leave it
    • Controversial front grille
    • Could turn out quite pricy
    • Little room in the back
    • The interior looks too much like the 3 Series
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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