Hot M4 trio to lead sportier line-up

The M4 (rendered above) will be offered in Coupé, Cabriolet and, for the first time, Gran Coupé forms, with 375kW.

BMW is uprating the dynamics of the 3 Series’ cousin, which will again offer three bodystyles alongside three 5375kW M4s – plus a new electric i4.

BMW will greatly expand the 4 Series line-up for the sporting coupé’s second generation later this year, spearheaded by a trio of M4 models with 375kW and the 390kW i4 electric saloon.

The German manufacturer is working to increase the differentiation between the 4 Series and the closely related 3 Series saloon, with engineers involved in its development telling AutoDaily’s sources that substantial work has gone into improving the dynamic qualities of the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé rival.

To this end, the 4 Series has also been given a major design revamp – including the grille featured on the Concept 4 Series that caused great controversy when it was revealed in September last year.

Known internally by the codename G22, the new 4 Series will be launched shortly in two-door Coupé form, followed by the Cabriolet and the four-door Gran Coupé.

The range will then be crowned in the autumn of 2021 by the M4, which will be offered in Coupé, Cabriolet and, for the first time, Gran Coupé forms.

However, the most powerful 4 Series variant will be the i4. The new Tesla Model 3 rival will use a pair of electric motors to offer up to 390kW and around 800Nm of torque. The i4 will be the second electric BMW to share its underpinnings with a conventional internal-combustion-engined car, after the iX3 SUV.

The importance of the 4 Series to BMW can be seen in the strong sales of the current model. Since its introduction in 2013 as a replacement for the 3 Series Coupé (the history of which stretches back to 1975), almost 700,000 examples have been sold worldwide.

Of the three bodystyles offered today, around 50 per cent of buyers choose the Gran Coupé, while the Coupé and Cabriolet each account for around 25 per cent.

BMW has committed to significant modifications over the 3 Series to provide the 4 Series with greater individuality and increased standing within the line-up.

Leading the host of changes is that striking new look. Inspired by the vertical kidney grilles that graced BMWs from the 1930s, the bold front end has been described by design chief Stefan Woerns as the first step towards giving each BMW model a unique interpretation of the brand’s most recognisable styling element.

When it goes on sale in the UK later this year, the 4 Series Coupé will offer up to three petrol and three diesel engines, each with four or six cylinders.

The M440i and M440d M Performance variants will both feature 48V mild-hybrid technology, providing off-throttle engine-idle coasting, regenerative braking and a Sprint mode that calls up an additional 8kW and 20Nm of torque for stronger acceleration under load.

Further developments for the 4 Series include a raft of unique structural stiffening measures to provide it with greater steering precision and improved suspension control. There are new front suspension strut tower braces within the engine bay and work has been carried out to increase the rigidity of the rear suspension.

Like the 3 Series, the 4 Series will get BMW’s lift-related dampers as standard, bringing progressive damper control qualities. Adaptive dampers will be standard on the M440i xDrive and M440d xDrive and part of an optional M Sport pack on other models.

In a return to its roots (it was called the 3 Series Cabriolet from its arrival in 1985 until 2013), the 4 Series Cabriolet will swap its folding hard-top roof for a multi-layer fabric structure. Similar to the arrangement on the 8 Series Cabriolet, this will include a composite tonneau cover and a dedicated stowage area.

The M Performance pair will be the initial range-toppers, before the second-generation M4 – developed under the codename G82 – arrives in the autumn of 2021.

The M4 will again be offered with the Coupé and Cabriolet bodystyles, as well as in standard rear-wheel-drive and top-spec four-wheel-drive Competition forms.

The regular M4 will use the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine, known as the S52, that features in the recently launched X3 M and X4 M SUV duo and is also set to be used by the new M3 saloon.

With a six-speed manual gearbox and traditional rear-wheel drive, the M4 will produce 353kW and 600Nm of torque in its standard guise.

Meanwhile, the 353kW M4 Competition will feature an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox and a fully variable M xDrive four-wheel drive system, mirroring the more powerful M5 saloon.

By comparison, the current M4 uses the older S55 turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six to deliver 317kW in its standard specification and 339kW in the M4 CS (which retains rear-wheel drive).

Those cars are assembled in BMW’s home city of Munich, Germany, but the second-generation M4 models will be produced alongside standard 4 Series Coupé and Cabriolet variants in nearby Dingolfing.

BMW is also planning to add four-door practicality to the M4 line-up for the first time by offering a Gran Coupé version. The junior sibling of the recently introduced M8 Gran Coupé is scheduled for launch in 2022 as a rival to the Audi RS5 Sportback, according to well-placed BMW sources. They told AutoDaily’s sources that the popularity of the original 4 Series Gran Coupé in North America and China was behind the decision to introduce its successor to the M4 range.

The versatility of the Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform that BMW introduced in 2017 is displayed by plans to base the i4 on the same structure as that used by its conventionally powered siblings – the first time BMW hasn’t used bespoke underpinnings for an EV.

Previewed earlier this year by a thinly veiled concept, the i4 is due in 2021 as the first in a wave of new electric cars being developed by BMW. The company plans to launch up to 25 plug-in hybrids and EVs by the end of 2023.

Based on the 4 Series Gran Coupé, alongside which it will be assembled in Munich, the i4 will produce up to 390kW and some 800Nm of torque from a motor on each axle in its most potent, four-wheel-drive guise, dubbed the i4 xDrive.

GREG KABLE

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