The German manufacturer is working to increase the differentiation between the 4 Series and the closely related 3 Series saloon, with engineers involved in its development telling Autocar that substantial work has gone into improving the dynamic qualities of the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé rival.
To this end, the 4 Series has also been given a major design revamp – including the grille featured on the Concept 4 Series that caused great controversy when it was revealed in September last year.
Known internally by the codename G22, the new 4 Series will be launched shortly in two-door Coupé form, followed by the Cabriolet and the four-door Gran Coupé.
The range will then be crowned before the end of 2020 by the M4, which will be offered in Coupé, Cabriolet and, for the first time, Gran Coupé forms.
However, the most powerful 4 Series variant will be the i4. The new Tesla Model 3 rival will use a pair of electric motors to offer up to 523bhp and around 600lb ft of torque. The i4 will be the second electric BMW to share its underpinnings with a conventional internal-combustion-engined car, after the iX3 SUV.
The importance of the 4 Series to BMW can be seen in the strong sales of the current model. Since its introduction in 2013 as a replacement for the 3 Series Coupé (the history of which stretches back to 1975), almost 700,000 examples have been sold worldwide.
Of the three bodystyles offered today, around 50% of buyers choose the Gran Coupé, while the Coupé and Cabriolet each account for around 25%.
BMW has committed to significant modifications over the 3 Series to provide the 4 Series with greater individuality and increased standing within the line-up.
Leading the host of changes is that striking new look. Inspired by the vertical kidney grilles that graced BMWs from the 1930s, the bold front end has been described by design chief Domagoj Dukec as the first step towards giving each BMW model a unique interpretation of the brand’s most recognisable styling element.
When it goes on sale in the UK later this year, the 4 Series Coupé will offer up to three petrol and three diesel engines, each with four or six cylinders.
Autocar has already driven prototype versions of the 255bhp 430i and 369bhp M440i xDrive petrols, while German automobile registry records show that the range will also feature an entry-level 420i and 420d, 430d and M440d diesels.
The M440i and M440d M Performance variants will both feature 48V mild-hybrid technology, providing off-throttle engine-idle coasting, regenerative braking and a Sprint mode that calls up an additional 11bhp and 15lb ft of torque for stronger acceleration under load.