One thing you can count on with BMW is that there’ll be plenty of variants to follow the launch of every major product line. And so it is with the 4-Series coupe we first saw in June. Just a week ago the Bavarian automaker revealed the next-generation M4 and, today, we’re getting our first look at the 2021 BMW 4-Series Convertible.
There are a number of relatively modest changes this time around, with one big switch, the 2021 cabriolet migrating away from a hardtop to a more conventional cloth top. There’s no specific explanation but a look elsewhere suggests that the era of the hardtop convertible may be drawing to a close, the victim of cost, complexity – and perhaps even an issue of mass.
For those who might question that decision, BMW is hoping buyers will be satisfied with the new model’s increased horsepower, torque and performance numbers – along with an array of new and updated digital technologies.
The 2021 cabriolet carries over most of the key design revisions we first saw in June in the form of the 4-Series coupe, a more curvaceous appearance featuring a lower nose framing a larger version of the familiar BMW double-kidney grille. The double-twin LED lamps flow into a hood that is more aggressive, with subtle bulges enhancing the feeling of muscularity.
The cloth top is roughly 40% lighter than the old model’s metal hardtop. The less complex mechanism also ensures an additional 1.2 cubic feet of cargo space – not totaling 9.0 cf. The top features new insulation designed to come as close as possible to matching the old car’s interior noise level and, at just 18 seconds, it’s a lot quicker to open and shut. It also pulls taught enough to come close to the look of the 2021 coupe’s basic fastback design.
Compared to the outgoing model, the 2021 convertible is is a full 5.2 inches longer (5.3 inches with the M440i), 1 inch wider, 0.1 inches taller and boasts a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase. The front and rear tracks have each been widened more than an inch. As a result, the 4 Series is now longer, lower and wider than the 3-Series sedan.
The interior will be familiar to BMW fans, though it adopts a bit more of an upscale feel. But the 2021 4 Series retains the traditional driver-focused cockpit layout. Both the M Sport and M440i xDrive versions add more knee padding, along with unique steering wheel and door sill plates.
All versions of the new 4-Series cabrio deliver increases in horsepower and torque. With the 430i and 430i xDrive models, that means 255 hp and 295 lb-ft, up 7 and 37 respectively, out of their 2.0-liter I-4 TwinPower turbo engines. The 430i will hit 60 in 5.9 seconds, with a top speed of 130 or 155 mph, depending upon wheels and tires.
As for the M440i and M440i xDrive, they make 382 hp and 369 lb-ft, up 62 and 39, from BMW’s B58 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo inline 6. The bigger engine cuts launch times down to 5.0 seconds even for the M440i, and top speed remains 130 or 155, depending upon tires and wheels. The M models feature a new, 48-volt mild hybrid system, stored energy used to both improve fuel economy and boost performance.
Both engines, and both rear- and all-wheel-drive models, share the same 8-speed automatic transmission.
One of the notable revisions to both 4-Series coupes and convertibles is the use of wider twin digital screens, the infotainment display flowing into the digital instrument cluster. Meanwhile, BMW has moved the start/stop button to the center console, near the newly redesigned gear shifter and iDrive control knob.
The 2021 BMW 4 Series now gets an upgraded infotainment system with standard navigation and improved maps, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system also features the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant which operates much like the Amazon Alexa system by saying “Hey BMW” to operate numerous vehicle functions, from setting a destination to adjusting the radio or cabin temperature.
All models also feature an assortment of advanced driver assistance systems that include: lane departure warning with steering correction; frontal collision; pedestrian warning with braking function; blind spot detection; rear cross traffic alert; rear collision preparation, automatic high beams; and speed limit information.
There’s also an optional Driving Assistance Professional Package which includes features like lane keeping assistant with side collision avoidance, and Extended Traffic Jam Assist which, BMW explains, provides Level 2 autonomy on limited access highways “which helps to reduce fatigue in stop-and-go freeway traffic by allowing for extended hands free vehicle operation.”
The RWD Convertibles go on sale next March, starting at $55,100 for the 440i, and $64,000 for the M44oi. The AWD models won’t arrive until July 2021, priced at $55,100 for the 440i xDrive and $66,000 for the M440i xDrive. Add another $995 for delivery fees.