BMW began the process of separating the two- and four-door variants of the 3 Series when it renamed the former 4 Series in 2013. It dialed in a few additional degrees of separation by introducing a concept called simply 4 at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show. The design study hints at what the next 4 Series will look like, and we don’t see a lot of 3 in it.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the grille. Yes, it’s huge. It’s mammoth; it’s even bigger in person, believe us. The love-it-or-hate-it look falls in line with BMW’s recent designs, like the facelifted 7 Series and the X7, and it helps differentiate the 4 from the more elegant-looking 3 Series. Pry your eyes off of it, and they’ll follow a long, plunging hood that hints at an equally long engine positioned between the fenders.
We need to use our imagination when it comes to technical specifications, because BMW hasn’t released any. It’s reasonable to assume entry-level models will offer a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and upmarket variants will benefit from a turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six. BMW previously pledged to electrify every nameplate in its portfolio, so a hybrid variant of the next-generation 4 will arrive a little bit later in the production run, and the range-topping M4 will return packing over 500 horsepower from a turbocharged six shared with the next-generation M3.
Don’t put your thinking hat away just yet; you’ll need to summon a little bit more imagination to picture what the 4 looks like inside, because photos haven’t been released. The 3 and the 4 have traditionally been almost identical inside, but BMW’s efforts to increase the gap between the two models could give the two-door model a specific cabin.
BMW has a proven history of previewing production models with close-to-production concepts, and odds are the 4 is no exception. If it’s displayed as a concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show, it’s not too far-fetched to assume it’s an auto show or two away from making its debut as a production model. Following this pattern pegs the 4’s introduction at the next edition of the Geneva Auto Show opening its doors in March 2020, and sales will likely kick off for the 2021 model year.