At the 4-Series’ release back in 2013, many enthusiasts were left scratching their head at its purpose. Following the first generation 4-Series press release, phrases like “it’s just a 3-Series with two doors chopped off,” and “those rear seats couldn’t fit an infant” could be heard resonating around the web from fans and reviewers alike. Since 2013, those complaints have been justified; the 4-Series really did seem like an impractical and less spacious version of a car that already existed.
With the 2021 redesign of the BMW 4-Series comes a rethink of BMW’s coupe philosophy. The new coupe deviates far enough from the current 3-Series that there are serious reasons to consider it over the slightly more practical option. Styling and unique performance options are the primary standouts here, the likes of which cannot be found in any other vehicle in the BMW lineup.
In our most recent test, we drove the all-new 2021 BMW 430i Coupe; the middle child of the G22 model range. As the minor-league athlete on the roster, the 430i is meant for cruising comfortably around business parks rather than racetracks. With that being said, the 430i puts BMW’s new coupe theory to the test as a rival city cruiser to the 3-Series.
By now, almost everything has been said about BMW’s new controversial design direction when it comes to the 2021 4-Series. Some say that the front end is arrogant and begs for attention while others claim that it is a peek into the future of modern automotive styling; there don’t seem to be many people in the camp between. Depending on the individual, the 2021 430i could either be considered the ugliest vehicle of the year or the prettiest.
Luckily, if you do find yourself disappointed by the styling, BMW does offer different – but only minorly different – front bumper options as standard from the factory. Our test vehicle was outfitted with the ‘M Aerodynamics’ package, adding no additional price to the MRLP while invigorating the front and rear end with gaping inlets. While the alternate bumper doesn’t mend the grille size, it does increase the appeal ever-so-slightly.
Although the new 4-Series wears a new and groundbreaking skin, the interior is an area where innovation is yet to be seen. As standard in the rest of BMW’s current sedan lineup, the cabin is defined by soft leather, brushed aluminum, and rubberized plastic. The repetition isn’t necessarily a negative, as the interior of the 430i still feels roomy and inviting, if not just a bit sterile. The build quality of a few interior pieces was brought into question on a couple of occasions while driving, like an audible rattle coming from the leather wrapped sport steering wheel when going over bumps in the road.
The 430i is loaded with onboard tech. A 12.3” digital cluster sits front and center, with an additional 10.25” touch control display positioned immediately to the right. Between the two screens, there is plenty of digital real-estate for operating navigation, Apple Car Play and diagnostic systems; all of which come included from the factory.
BMW has emphasized new and groundbreaking safety features in most of their modern vehicles. While it is hard to argue against these new features, some of them still need to have kinks resolved before they are truly seamless. The ‘Driving Assistant Professional’ package included in the 430i is BMW’s answer to lane assist – aiding the driver to stay in their lane if the vehicle starts to drift. While a good feature in concept, at this point it is atrociously anti intuitive – forcing you from nearing any dotted lines on the road as though it is made for people who are cross-eyed or suffer from vertigo.
Performance is a tricky spot for the 430i. Caught between its bigger brother – the M440i – and the youngest child – the 420i – the 430i is a messy blend between the two. Weighing in at 1545 kg, the 430i lugs around 75 more kilos than the 2021 330i which shares the same engine. This added weight is immediately noticeable and makes the 430i feel sluggish with only 190kW on tap from its twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. For a daily cruiser, the limited power wont often be an issue especially given its smooth acceleration, but you wont likely win many races.
BMW attempted to solve this bloating issue with stiffer and sportier suspension to handle the body roll tendencies that the 430i struggles with around sharper bends. Unfortunately, the suspension is spine-punishingly rigid as a result. Sport suspension paired with the standard low profile run-flat tires adds up to a borderline uncomfortable ride, especially on uneven roads.
So, with appearance, interior and performance of the 2021 430i adding up to a 3-series rivaling package, all that remains is an aspect that was a letdown in the previous generation 4-Series: practicality. In terms of sheer statistics, the 430i is well improved on this front. With 440 litres of boot space, the 430i has only 40 litres less in the back than a 2021 3-Series. Not bad for a two door. While the sloping roofline does decrease headroom a bit, the 430i’s rear seats are fitted for average sized humans, not just shopping bags.
The 4-Series has clearly carved out a market of its own in BMW’s “refreshed” lineup, giving buyers the option for a fresh, sporty face without much of a sacrifice. When it comes to a luxury cruiser for daily use, the BMW 430i makes owning a two door a viable option.
By Amandeep Sethi