The 2021 BMW M4 is still available with a manual, but now you can add AWD

The second-generation BMW M4, the coupe version of the M3, just debuted for the 2021 model year. As previewed by spy shots of camouflaged or even camo-free prototypes, the high-performance two-door features a pair of oversized kidney grilles in the front, a significant change compared to the outgoing model.

But the 2021 BMW M4 brings other premiers to the nameplate. It’s the first of its kind to be offered in two power stages, as well as the first M4 available with an optional xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Previously a mid-cycle update, the M4 Competition is now part of the M4 lineup as a range-topping model. Rated at 503 horsepower, it’s the most powerful M4 ever built.

The 2021 BMW M4 is an evolutionary design with an oversized grille

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Just like the 2021 M3, the 2021 M4 is an evolution of the previous model in terms of exterior design. It also borrows a bit from the range-topping M8 coupe.

But the feature that draws the most attention is the new kidney grille design. Now almost as tall as the front fascia, it stretches from the tip of the nose all the way to the splitter.

This new design has been met with some criticism and for the time being it seems to be limited to the company’s high-performance compact models only.

The M4’s new engine hood is also a dramatic departure from the previous model. It now features two individual raised sections that "flow" into the upper kidney grilles, set apart by the same line that separates the kidneys at the top. This twin-bulge design makes the front hood look decidedly more muscular and, when paired with the big kidney grilles, turns the M4 into the most aggressive looking M car yet.

The 2021 BMW M4 Goes AWD, Packs Up to 503 Horsepower And Massive Grille Exterior
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But the novelties stop here, as almost everything else is an evolution of the old M4 design. The grille is flanked by large headlamps with angular corners, while the bumper feature the traditional layout with a big grille in the center and vertical vents at the corners. However, due to the massive grille, the lower vent is split into two elements.

The M4’s profile retains the beltline and the flared fenders of its predecessor, but it’s a bit more muscular toward the rear thanks to the more protruding waistline and the heavily sculpted area above the side skirts. It also features new gills on the front fenders. The rear fascia is mostly shared with the M3 sedan. Both the bumper and the diffuser come from the four-door model, but the taillights and the upper trunk lid are actually inspired by the M8. Sure, the M4 doesn’t feature an integrated spoiler, but the Competition model comes with one attached to the lid. The diffuser screams "race car" thanks to its vertical fins and 3.9-inch quad exhaust pipes finished in black.

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The new M4 comes standard with a carbon-fiber roof, but you can opt for a steel roof with integral glass sunroof. New, exclusive paint finishes include Sao Paulo Yellow, Toronto Red Metallic, and Isle of Man Green Metallic.

The 2021 BMW M4 is available with cool carbon seats

2021 BMW M4 Competition Interior
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If you've been in a current BMW 3 Series model, you're going to feel very familiar in the M4.

However, even though it is based on the more mundane sedan, it comes with loads of extra features that justify the premium and the "M" badge. For instance, the M4 is fitted with new, electrically adjustable M Sport seats, fine-grain Merino leather trim, and an M-specific infotainment display. BMW now offers seat ventilation for the very first time, but you can also ditch the standard seats for new M Carbon buckets with integral head restraints. These can be dismantled for track driving.

2021 BMW M4 Competition Interior
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The M4 is obviously better equipped than a regular Bimmer. It comes with three-zone automatic climate control, LED interior lighting, ambient lighting, a hi-fi audio, and the BMW Live Cockpit Professional as standard. BMW also enhanced the driving assist system package for this model, with Park Distance Control, Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Speed Limit included as standard. Options include Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Active Navigation function, Emergency Lane Assistant, BMW Drive Recorder, Head-Up Display with M-specific content, and Parking Assistant with Reversing Assistant.

The 2021 BMW M4 is the most powerful M4 yet!

2021 BMW M4 Competition Drivetrain
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As expected, the M4 is available with the same S58 engine that BMW introduced in the X3 M and X4 M crossovers. The engine is available in two different stages of tune, but output differs slightly compared to the SUVs.

The twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six mill cranks out 473 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque in the regular M4. That’s 48 horses more than the old M3, but torque remains unchanged.

The new M4 is also 29 horses more potent than the previous M4 Competition and boasts an extra 20 horses over the old M4 CS. On the other hand, it falls behind the old M4 GTS by 20 horsepower and 38 pound-feet of torque. The 2021 M4 hits 62 mph from a standing start in 4.2 seconds.

BMW doesn’t say in which layout, but it’s safe to assume it the quickest of them all, fitted with the automatic transmission and AWD system.

The 2021 BMW M4 Goes AWD, Packs Up to 503 Horsepower And Massive Grille Exterior
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While production of the previous M4 was split into the regular model and the M4 Competition as a facelift, both cars are now available at the same time. The M4 Competition is a more powerful trim, fitted with a revised S58 engine that delivers an extra 30 horsepower and 74 pound-feet.

The grand total hits 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of twist, making the 2021 M4 Competition the most potent M4 yet.

Compared to previous versions of the nameplate, the new M4 Competition generates 50 horses more than the M4 CS and 10 horses more than the M4 GTS. It also packs an extra 59 horses compared to the old M4 Competition. The top-tier model also comes with a higher engine red line at 7,200 (versus the 6,250-rpm limit of the regular model) and it’s also three tenths quicker from 0 to 62 mph at 3.9 seconds.

The 2021 BMW M4 Goes AWD, Packs Up to 503 Horsepower And Massive Grille Exterior
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If you feared that BMW will discontinue the manual transmission for this generation, I have good news for you. The M4 is still available with a six-speed manual in addition to the eight-speed dual-clutch. But the really big news here is that the M4 is also available with an all-wheel-drive system.

Just like the M5, the compact M4 can be fitted with an M xDrive system with a rear-wheel bias, so you're not missing on the fun you can have with a RWD car.

This setup improves traction and stability and should make the M4 much quicker around a race track.

When is the 2021 BMW M4 coming to the U.S. and how much will it cost?

The 2021 BMW M4 Goes AWD, Packs Up to 503 Horsepower And Massive Grille Exterior
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The new-generation BMW M4 is set to hit U.S. dealers in March 2021. The xDrive AWD models will arrive a bit later, starting with the summer of 2021. Pricing information is not yet available, but it will cost a bit more than the outgoing model, priced from $69,150.

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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