2021 BMW 430i xDrive Coupe — The Ultimate Schnoz

By Jim Prueter

(March 13, 2021) The folks at BMW recently released their second-generation 4 Series coupe, formerly known as the 3 Series Coupe. The new generation, as expected, launched with more power, better performance, and necessary safety and tech upgrades. Most of these upgrades are thanks to the 3 Series sedan, which was redesigned for the 2019 model year.

The first-generation 4 Series was available as a coupe, convertible, or four-door hatchback called Gran Coupe. The main differentiator between the 3-Series and 4-Series is the number of doors — two for the 4 Series and four on the 3 Series.

For 2021, BMW is offering the 4 Series in two versions: a coupe and a soft-top convertible. The coupe version is available in three models: the high-performance M4 Coupe with either 473-horsepower or the M4 Competition with 503-horsepower, the 382-horsepower M440i, and the 225-horsepower 430i Coupe. The 430i Coupe comes with standard rear-wheel drive or optional xDrive ($2,000) intelligent all-wheel drive. The M440i is only available with xDrive.

For this review, we drove the 430i xDrive Coupe, powered by the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. For comparison, the M440i uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. Both engines are matched to an 8-speed sport automatic transmission. There is no manual transmission option for this car.

The new 4 Series is lower and wider than the 3 Series and further distinguishes itself with its controversial “love-it or hate-it” cartoonish grille. From my weeklong testing experience the overwhelming majority of comments I received were the latter. Simply put, the Ultimate Driving Machine now has the ultimate schnoz, an understatement to be sure.

The new controversy associated with its new proboscis harkens back to BMW’s infamous “Bangle Butt,” when chief BMW designer Chris Bangle redesigned the rear of the 7 Series for 2001 to be very bulbous, bulging and, in most people’s view, simply ugly and wrong for a BMW. Unfortunately for Bangle, the millions of people calling for his job over design outrage eventually let him to retire. A few model years later BMW did fix the ugly butt. Time will tell what the future of the new grille will be, but BMW’s design team is confident auto buyers will grow accustomed to it and that it will become a preferred look across the entire lineup of BMW products.

The design look from the side and rear view is completely inoffensive and rather similar to numerous vehicles on the road from Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia and others. Inside, changes to the new 4 Series are few. There’s ample room up front and a rather surprising amount of useful space in the rear seat. The instrument panel carries over from the 3 Series almost intact and the overall look and design of the interior could be mistaken for one of any number of BMW vehicles.  

Standard features include 10-way power front sport seats, two-way power glass moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic high beams, three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, live Cockpit Plus Navigation features, iDrive 7.0 controller for most operating functions via the instrument cluster with horizontal 5.1-inch display, 8.8-inch touchscreen, HiFi sound system with Sirius XM 360L, power-folding heated outside mirrors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Options included the attractive Portimao blue metallic exterior paint finish ($550), black leather upholstery with blue stitching ($1,450), and dynamic handling package with MK sport brakes and blue brake calipers, ($2,450). Additionally, the Premium Package ($2,300) added heated steering wheel and seats, keyless entry, lumbar support, ambient lighting, head-up display and Live Cockpit Pro including navigation, wireless charging ($500) and harmon-kardon surround sound audio system ($875).

On the road, the 430i felt much quicker than the 255-horsepower would suggest. In terms of acceleration and passing, it was quick, not 382-horsepower quick but we never longed for more power to satisfy our driving needs. I really appreciate that, because prior to testing it, I didn’t really get the feeling it was going to be this special given a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a $60,000-plus price tag.

The car is also smooth on the road. The transmission shifts are smooth, especially downshifting when passing on the highway. The car also handled better than what I expected given its heavier weight. Still, it isn’t as fast or sporty handling as you might want when buying a BMW and for that you can certainly move up market and consider the 440i or full-on M4 with the additional horsepower. Still, I don’t see any drawback to the 430i and overall it is an excellent and pleasing car to drive, with good technology that’s easy to use.

Bottom line, the new 439i is a pleasing car that’s fun to drive and is an extremely comfortable highway grand tourer for relaxing on longer road trips or short commutes. Again, the drawback for most will be the exterior styling and in particular the ostentatious snout. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear of those who would take it out of their consideration set because of it and overrule the BMW’s raves and reputation as the Ultimate Driving Machine with advanced safety and operating technology. Only time will tell if the design grows on you or if you’ll be continually repulsed.

Vital Stats
Base Price : $47,600
Price as Tested: $61,220
Engine/Transmission: 255-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivered through an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive.
Fuel Economy: 23/33/27 mpg – City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 4

Where Built: Dingolfing, Germany

Crash Test Ratings: The 2021 BMW 4 Series models have not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as of this writing.

Competes With:
Audi A5
Infiniti Q60
Lexus RC
Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Fab Features:
Comfortable, sporting driving experience
Expansive list of standard features
Ample and plentiful cabin technology