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BMW 4-Series engines, drive and performance

2020 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 4.2 out of 54.2

Written by James Dennison Published: 23 July 2021 Updated: 17 December 2021

  • Three petrol engines, three diesels
  • Range-topping M440i is impressive
  • Eight-speed auto gearboxes for all

Petrol engines

As is traditional with BMW coupes, there are in-line four- and six-cylinder powerplants to choose from, and here they all feature twin-turbocharging for a smooth power delivery. The entry point to the range is the 420i, which has 184hp and is good for a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds. Add xDrive four-wheel drive and the extra weight of the transmission has an impact, so it has a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds.

The 430i is slightly confusing. If you’re familiar with BMW’s numbering scheme, then you’ll know that a ’30i’ badge on the tail of an older car indicates a 3.0-litre engine, but this one has the same four-cylinder engine as the 420i with power turned up to 245hp. If you want a straight-six petrol, then the M440i is your only choice this side of an M4. It has 374hp and xDrive as standard, while 48v mild hybrid technology helps to improve its efficiency.

Diesel engines

With an absence of plug-in hybrid power, diesel engines are the efficient option in the 4 Series, and they all come with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. The 420d is a 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder with 190hp that can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds. Like the 420i, adding xDrive sees the 0-62mph time increase by three tenths, to 7.4 seconds.

Go for a 430d and you do get a straight-six diesel, but it just has a single turbo. This makes 286hp, has xDrive as standard and can sprint from 0-62mph in a rapid 5.1 seconds. If you want to go faster, then the M440d adds another turbo to make 340hp. It can go from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds.

BMW 4 Series Coupe (2020) handling
BMW 4 Series Coupe (2020) handling

What’s it like to drive?

  • Sharp steering will keep you alert
  • All cars deliver lively handling
  • Good range of electronic aids

The 420d’s combination of 190hp diesel and 48-volt mild-hybrid system means it’s quite refined on the move. There’s gentle electrically-assisted acceleration and coasting when rolling off-throttle, but while there is still a low rumble of diesel noise, it’s so well damped inside the cockpit it feels like you’re driving one of the most refined four-cylinder diesels on the market.

Torque still comes in a sizeable lump between 2,500rpm and 4,000rpm, then completely drops off after that. While it’s standard fare not to rev out a diesel, this engine is geared in such a way that doing so is completely pointless – there’s next to no sensation in acceleration between 4,000rpm and the redline.

BMW’s eight-speed auto is great, offering fast, smooth shifting, which further emphasises the kick you get in full-throttle gear changes in Sport mode. While the four-cylinder 430i needs to be revved to deliver decent pace, the straight-six-powered M440i can build up speed effortlessly. But if you do want the excitement of taking it to the redline, it’s happy to do that, too – the choice is yours.

Whichever model you choose, we’d recommend adding adaptive dampers. These offer the ability to put the car into Comfort mode for supremely relaxed cruising, while picking Sport or Sport+ settings delivers a sharp, focused drive that lets you make the most of the 4 Series’ perfect 50:50 weight distribution and agile chassis.

BMW M4 (2021) driving
BMW M4 (2021) driving