Yes, it is real. No, we can’t stop staring either. Welcome, dear readers, to our first official look at the polarising G22 4 Series which, quite obviously, has a gargantuan grille. But let’s put a pin in that for now because there’s more important things at play here than how this car looks.
BMW is pitching this second-gen 4er as its mid-sizer for drivers and has given it new engine tech, a stiffer chassis, and subtle dimension changes. Think of it as the 3 Series’ hunkered down, sportier sibling and you’re most of the way there. Plus, imagine an even squatter stance, larger wheels and angrier body work and you’re looking at the next M4.
The 4 Series is 23mm wider than its sedan sibling, with a 57mm reduction in height lowering the centre of gravity by 21mm. The track front and rear has grown by at least 23mm, giving the G22 a larger footprint on the road.
BMW has created 4 series specific chassis bracing for the G22 to improve body rigidity, while a 48-volt mild hybrid system has been introduced for certain variants. Engines mimic the 3 Series, with turbocharged four- and six-cylinder units, while Australian variants will include the 420i, 430i, and M440i xDrive.
The entry-level 420i is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, in a 135kW/300Nm state of tune. BMW claims this model will crack 100km/h from a standstill in 7.5 seconds, with a claimed fuel economy of 5.3-5.8L/100km.
In the middle of the range, the 430i is also fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, but makes 190kW and 400Nm, for a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds, and combined efficiency of 5.7-6.1L/100km.
The quickest non-M 4 Series will be the M440i xDrive, which gains a mild-hybrid system, and sends 275kW/500Nm to all four-wheels thanks to its turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. Want rear-drive action and you’ll need to opt for a lower-spec turbocharged four-cylinder model. A 48-volt starter motor is fitted to the turbocharged six-cylinder which can act like a small electrical drive unit, assisting the combustion engine, with an extra 8kW of grunt. BMW claims this model will crack 100km/h from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds.
All 4 Series variants use an eight-speed automatic transmission - no manuals here. At least not until we get the much-anticipated M4, due to be shown (most likely after a million teaser images) to the world late this year.
M-Sport variants are equipped with a new ‘sprint’ function for the transmission. Think of it like a ‘push to pass’ button like that seen in some Porsche models, offering the sportiest possible calibration and lowest-possible gear ratio for a short burst of speed, activated by holding down the left steering-mounted paddle. The gear ratio spread for the eight-speed has been widened in the name of efficiency.
BMW’s engineers have focused on making the 4 Series a more enthralling steer – which delights us at Wheels, as the 3 Series is one of the most dynamically pleasing sedans on the market.
For the two-door coupe version the negative camber on the front wheels has been increased, for a keener turn-in. BMW claims it has achieved a perfect 50:50 weight distribution with the G22, while it has also developed 4 Series specific dampers.
The lift-related dampers (which debuted on the 3 Series and give you more damping force the further the spring travels) have been tweaked to improve dynamic ability, and are complimented by firmer springs and anti-roll bars compared to the G20. All up, the ride height has dropped by 10mm for the coupe.
Built at BMW’s Dingolfing plant alongside the 8 Series, 7 Series, and 5 Series the new G22 4 Series is expected in Australia by October.
Despite the best efforts of the engineers, the biggest roadblock to the new 4 Series’ enduring popularity will be the designers and their choice of (purely aesthetic) grille. So, can you abide?