The sporty drop-top returns with more than 500 horsepower

The 2021 BMW M4 Convertible is the upcoming, next-generation version of the company’s beefed-up compact drop-top. Set to be unveiled alongside the Coupe, the 2021 M4 Convertible will share almost all exterior features with the hard-top model, save for changes necessary to accommodate a folding roof.

Likely based on the BMW Concept 4, the 2021 M4 Convertible will probably feature the massive front grille seen on the show car. Like most recent M-badged models, the 2021 M4 Convertible will most likely arrive with two engine options, with the more powerful version called M4 Competition. Let’s find out more about the upcoming convertible in the speculative review below.

Exterior

  • Massive grille from Concept 4
  • Body lines similar to 4 Series
  • Aggressive bumpers
  • M badges
  • Flared fenders
  • Trunk lid spoiler
  • Unique wheels
  • Soft-top
2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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The production M4 might actually break cover with a big grille like the Concept 4.

The massive grille of the Concept 4 sparked heated debates on whether BMW is doing the right thing or not. While many purists find it horrible to look at, some embrace the new design and consider it a breath of fresh air for the compact.

And while some thought that the big grille won’t make it to production, a 4 Series model spotted in a garage back in October 2019 featured the same design element.

Now, looking at the camouflaged test car, there’s no sign of the massive, polarizing grille. But it could also hide under the wraps. Look close enough and you’ll see that most of the bumper is actually covered by a flat panel, so the holes that suggest bumper vents in the center could be fake.

2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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Given that the panel that covers the center of the bumper is on the same level with the nose, there’s plenty of room to hide a big grille that extends from the top of the fascia to the bottom of the apron. So if you’re not a fan of the Concept 4’s grille, don’t relax just yet, the production M4 might actually break cover with something similar.

BMW replaced the hard-top, a traditional feature of the compact two-door, with a canvas roof.

The headlamps are seem inspired by the Concept 4. Granted, they’re well hidden, but we can see that they’re thinner and more aggressive than before. There’s no sign of the big side vents seen on the concept, but again, the panel mounted on the bumper could hide something similar. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for really huge vents. They should be about as big as the previous M4, which is enough for cooling purposes. Also expect for a cool three-piece splitter to finish off the lower edge of the bumper. The engine hood isn’t as muscular as the concept car, but it’s not boring either.

2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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The profile of the M4 Convertible remains familiar. There's a bit of sculpting in the side skirts and a beltline that rises nicely from the top of the front wheel arch to the muscular rear haunches.

The fenders aren’t too wide, a sign that BMW wants to keep the M4’s silhouette somewhat elegant. The soft-top mimics the shape of the coupe model almost identically, so you won’t see too many differences with the top up.

BMW did a good job to keep the rear fascia out of sight, but it appears that the taillights are inspired by the 8 Series. There’s a two-piece design that runs into the trunk lid and the clusters are slimmer than the old M4. A small spoiler integrated into the lid adds sportiness, as does the quad-pipe exhaust layout. The tips looks rather rough here, but it will boast finer details when it goes into production. The bumper seems pretty clean, but expect some fake vents toward the sides.

Interior

  • Based on the 3 Series
  • Modern design
  • 10.25-inch infotainment display
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Sporty seats
  • Luxury features
  • Leather and Alcantara
  • Infinite headroom
2020 BMW M3 Spyshots
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The 10.25-inch infotainment display sits higher in the dashboard.

Although the exterior of the M4 will be notably different than the 3 Series it is based on, the cabin will look pretty much the same. The compact sedan boasts an evolutionary interior that reminds of the previous generation, but includes just enough changes for a modern vibe. The center stack will feature the same trapezoidal design, but it will also include a larger infotainment display, which means fewer buttons and knobs and a cleaner design. Just like in the 3 Series, the 10.25-inch display will sit higher in the dashboard, leaving room for thin A/C vents and some controls in the center stack.

The infotainment display will be joined by an equally big instrument cluster. Already seen on several new-generation Bimmers, this digital cluster ditches the conventional gauges for graded arches at the corners of the display.

This leaves plenty of room for the navigation map and performance data in the center. It also looks decidedly more modern and high-tech than the competition.

The standard seats with be replaced by sportier, bucket-style units wrapped in leather.

BMW will also throw in the new Intelligent Personal Assistant. A feature similar to Mercedes’ smart MBUX system, it can answer several questions, like “How does the High Beam Assistant work?”, “Is the oil level okay?”, and “What warning messages do I have?”. It also remembers your favorite settings and can activate a combination of them in certain situations. If you say “Hey BMW, I feel tired,” the car activates a vitality program that adjusts the lighting mood, music, and temperature in order to make you feel more awake.

2020 BMW M3 Spyshots
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Of course, the M badge will add a few extra features compared to the standard 4 Series. First up, the standard seats with be replaced by sportier, bucket-style units wrapped in leather. The same leather will adorn sections of the door panels, dashboard, and center console. Merino leather will be standard, but you’ll be able to opt for semi-aniline leather and Alcantara inserts. You’ll also find the iconic "M" badge on various surfaces, including the seats, dashboard, and the door sills.

You'll enjoy all these feature with the added benefit of infinite headroom when the roof is folded.

The instrument cluster will be specific to this model as well. Look for circular dials with red needles, a digital speedometer, and rpm warning lights for optimum shifting. The instrument cluster will also display gear selection, driving modes, and suspension settings. It will also feature extra buttons on the dashboard and the on the steering wheel.

Of course, you’ll enjoy all these features with the added benefit of infinite headroom when the roof is folded behind the seats. Interestingly enough, the test car features a soft-top instead of the hard-top roof of the previous generation. I have no idea why BMW switches roofs for the new Convertible, but it may have something to do with the fact that canvas tops are a bit lighter. As before, the roof will be fully automatic and it will take just a few seconds to fold.

Drivetrain

  • S58 engine from the X3/X4 M
  • 3.0-liter inline-six
  • Competition model
  • Up to 503 horsepower
  • Up to 442 pound-feet
  • 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds
  • Top speed at 174 mph
  • Most powerful M4 yet
2020 BMW X3 M
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The M4 will arrive with 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque in base trim.

Previous reports claim that the M4 will be powered by the same S58 engine in the X3 M and X4 M crossovers. What’s more, the 3.0-liter inline-six could generate the same power in the two-door convertible. If this is true, the M4 will arrive with 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. That’s 48 horsepower and 67 pound-feet more than the previous M4. The new-generation two-door will also pack more punch than the M4 Competition Package, rated at 444 horses.

Just like the X3 M and X4 M, the upcoming M4 will also be offered in Competition trim. This model will boast the same 442 pound-feet of torque, but horsepower will increase to 503 horses. That’s an extra 78 horsepower compared to the old M4 and an additional 59 horses over the old M4 Competition Package.

In fact, the M4 Competition model will trump every other variant of the previous-generation coupe. At 503 horsepower and and 442 pound-feet, it will crank out 50 horses over the M4 CS and an additional 10 horses compared to the M4 GTS.

The Competition model will generate 503 horsepower.

All told, the M4 Competition will be the most powerful version of the 4 Series.

More good news comes from the transmission department. Will rumors suggested that both the M3 and M4 will feature automatic gearboxes only, BMW confirmed a while back that the manual will remain an option. On the other hand, the next-generation M4 will be offered with all-wheel drive, just like the M5, a first for the nameplate. But don’t worry if you’re not a fan of AWD, this system will be optional so you’ll still be able to drive it with an RWD setup.

Naturally, the next-gen M4 will also be quicker than its predecessor.

With all the extra power, the new chassis, and the revised underpinnings, the M4 Convertible will probably hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, while the Competition model will do it in 3.7 clicks.

Top speed will be locked at 155 mph, but the optional M Driver’s Package will increase it to 174 mph or maybe even more.

Safety and Assist Features

2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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Just like the 3 Series, the M4 will benefit from the Driving Assistant Professional package.

One of the big issues with the old M4 is that it had fallen behind the competition as far as driver assistance features go, especially when compared to two-door models from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. But the new-generation compact will make up for that with loads of modern tech. Just like the 3 Series, the M4 will benefits from the Driving Assistant Professional package.

This bundle of assistance systems is underpinned by a trifocal camera co-developed with Mobileye and it works in conjunction with a front-facing radar in order to keep you safe in all driving situations. The package includes Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, Steering and Lane Keeping Assistant, and Active Side Collision Avoidance.

2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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Designed to operate at speeds up to 37 mph, this system also integrates Lane Keeping Assistant, Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go. There’s also a driver attention monitoring camera that allows you to ride without touching the steering, but only as long as your attention is clearly on the road ahead.

The Parking Assistant feature will help you enter and exit parking spots, while the Back-Up Assistant will reverses the car in confined spaces. The rear view camera, the Panorama View and the remote 3D Top View will further assist such operations by second 3D images of the vehicle and its immediate surroundings on your smartphone.

Prices

2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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Pricing of the M4 Convertible will probably increase with the new generation, so expect to pay a bit more for the fresh design and new technology. The outgoing M4 Convertible starts from $77,650, so look for the new drop-top to come in at nearly $79,000. The Competition model will come in at more than $85,000.

For reference, the Convertible will be nearly $10,000 more expensive than the M4 Coupe.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet

2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The AMG C63 is already six years old as of 2020. But this doesn’t mean it’s dated. When it arrived in 2014 it was by far the best in its segment, so it still has what it takes to give the upcoming M4 Convertible a run for its money. A facelift introduced for the 2019 model added a few new features, some new tech, and revised engines. The AMG C63 shares its modern interior with the standard model, but features additional goodies specific to AMG cars. It also comes with sports seats fitted with the Airscarf heating system and the Aircap system, which keep your neck warm and prevents draughts from entering the cabin while the top is down. Unlike the M4, the C63 is powered by a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine. The standard AMG C63 boasts 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The AMG C63 S version comes with more oomph at 503 horses and 516 pound-feet of twist. Pricing starts from $77,300 for the regular model and from $84,900 for the S-badged variant.

Read out full review of the Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet

Audi S5 Cabriolet

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior
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If you’re wondering why we’re talking about the S5 and not the range-topping RS5, it’s because Audi doesn’t offer a convertible with the RS badge. So if you’re really hooked on Audis and want something similar to the BMW M4 Convertible, the S5 is your best option. Powered by a turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, the S5 isn’t as powerful as the competition. The mill cranks out "only" 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of twist, more than 100 horsepower less than the Bimmer and the Merc. Top speed goes up to 155 mph with the right tires. Should Audi offer a convertible version of the RS5, it will come with a twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-6 rated at 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of twist. Pricing for the S5 Cabriolet starts from $63,600, so while you don’t get as much power as the competition, you pay notably less as well.

Read our full story on the Audi S5 Cabriolet

Conclusion

2021 BMW M4 Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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As a successor to the iconic BMW M3 Coupe, the M4 is extremely important for the BMW lineup. Not so much can be said about the M4 Convertible, as the coupe fares much better sales-wise, but it’s an important niche with both Mercedes-Benz and Audi still competing. The M4 will definitely be on par or even superior to the competition in terms of technology and features, but there are two important changes that might make a big difference. BMW is giving up on the hard-top for a soft roof, and it remains to be seen how purists will react to this. More importantly, it remains to be seen how customers will react to the massive grille inspired by the BMW Concept 4.

  • Leave it
    • Big grille might be a turn off
    • Is the soft-top a downgrade from the hard-top?
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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