On July 1, BMW Group Plant Dingolfing celebrated the production launch of five new or updated models. Among these are the new 6 Series GT (which isn’t coming to the U.S.), the G30 5 Series LCI and it’s accompanying stablemates, the facelifted 5 Series Touring (G31) and the freshly updated 2021 M5. The most notable model, however, is easily the G22 4 Series Coupe.
A show-stopper from the moment it was unveiled last year in Frankfurt, the new 4 Series has divided the automotive community with its looks. Regardless of how you feel about it though, the new Four has gone into series production, with units rolling off the line at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing. BMW has a way of staying uncannily true to its concept cars, with compromises typically only made in the face of industry regulations. The 4 Series—and Concept 4—are no exception, and it’s only a matter of time (October of this year) before they start showing up in the flesh.
As we explained when the 4 Series was officially revealed, precedent exists for the new model and its design in BMW’s coupe and roadster lineage. Dating back to the prewar period, BMW was winning races with the narrow-grilled 328, and in the generations since, the automaker has always offered something in that fills the role of a “big coupe.” From the 2000CS, and continuing with the E9, some of BMW’s most captivting and compelling models have been long two-doors that are designed to cover mileage on a continental scale.
This tradition is present at BMW’s Dingolfing production facility as well. Over 40 years ago, the factory was where E24 6 Series Sharknose production first began, a model that still commands a strong following to this day. Succeeding generations of big BMW coupes have kept the flame lit, like the 8 Series and 6 Series, while more recently, the outgoing 4 Series coupe seemed to reignite driver interest in an almost forgotten vehicle segment, the personal luxury car.
Whether or not the new big-grilled 4 Series can live up to its storied ancestry remains to be seen. There’s a lot of hard-earned tradition and history at stake, but perhaps even more important is where the brand is headed. There isn’t much doubt that the new 4 Series, specifically the M440i, will be a strong performer—BMW says it can hit 60 in just 4.5 seconds, a figure that is sure to shrink in real-world testing—but performance cannot always speak for itself.
Whatever emotions the new 4 Series evokes for you, one thing worth mentioning is that, while public perception of the model seems strongly polarized, at least a few in the automotive community have expressed a dissenting opinion. Will the bold design of the new 4 Series eventually grow on us and win drivers over? Only time will tell.
Another semi-new model going into production alongside the Four at Dingolfing is the G30 5 Series LCI. The longest-running BMW series model, the current Five has been given its mid-cycle update for the 2021 model year. This update, which includes enlarged grilles, revamped lighting, and few other subtle tweaks, appears conservative when juxtaposed to BMW’s fourthcoming design language, but perhaps the biggest change is the addition of a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
The new looks have also been grafted over to the M5, which is also going into production in LCI form. Any mention of the M5 gets us excited, as it is simply one of the best BMWs you can buy right now, given the incredible performance and comparatively understated appearance.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]