Update: These are the best pictures yet of the new BMW M4 Coupe, which has been caught during performance testing at the famous Nurburgring circuit in Germany. These latest images clearly show how the new car is taking shape, too, with two engineers in racing gear driving the M4 on the limit.
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Based on the all-new BMW 4 Series, the two-door M4 will get a wider track both front and rear for a much meaner stance than the standard car. In profile, the huge new high-performance brake discs are clear to see through the large black alloy wheels.
At the front, the M4 gets the same twin-spoke grille design as the BMW M6 Gran Coupe but finished in black, as well as an aggressive front bumper with larger air intakes and mesh grille. Under the bonnet, the M4 will continue BMW's downsizing policy by using a twin-turbo straight-six engine tuned to produce around 450bhp but with more torque than the current V8 model.
Other mechanical upgrades include a newly-developed limited-slip differential to help keep all that power on the road, plus a more developed version of the Drive Performance Control system that adjusts the settings for the steering weight, throttle response and traction control.
The new M3 is scheduled to be revealed later this year, ahead of the M4 Coupe and Convertible versions, which are likely to be revealed towards the end of 2013 with a starting price of around £65,000.
The production version of the 4 Series Coupe Concept is expected in showrooms by the end of 2013, with a 4 Series Convertible and more practical four-door Gran Coupe following.
“In the past the resemblance and the DNA between the 3 Series sedan and coupe was obvious, this time we want to take a much larger step,” Ian Robertson, BMW's sales and marketing director, told us. “It’s more than a 3 Series sedan, it has more presence and it’s more dynamic. It’s time to change to the 4 Series.”
Setting the 4 Series apart from the more sensible 3 Series saloon is a sportier profile featuring a low-slung rear end. The car looks far more dynamic than the current 3 Series Coupe, with a track that’s 45mm wider at the front and 80mm at the rear. The roofline is 16mm lower, too.
The L-shaped kink in the rear window is a theme repeated in details all around the new car, such as the air vents behind the front wheels (BMW calls them Air Breathers), the door handles and the LED signature in the lights.
Apparently, the styling updates aren’t just for show. A gaping lower front bumper with Air Curtains at its edges works with the Air Breathers to improve air flow round the wheels and, in turn, enhance aerodynamics.
BMW has also closed off the new satin silver grille to help the 4 Series cut through the air more easily. At the rear, the shape of the lower front grille is mirrored in the bumper, but early spy shots thought to show the production 4 Series reveal this feature could be ditched.
Inside, the newcomer has the same dash layout as the 3 Series saloon, but what really stands out is how the materials are used. The seats are covered in hand-braided leather trim, which even extends to the cup-holders in the centre console and door panels.
Matt-effect Natural Chestnut wood trim helps to provide the interior with more of a unique, premium feel than the 3 Series. While some of the more opulent touches won’t make it through to production, we can be sure that the 2+2 seating arrangement will feature on the final showroom 4 Series.
BMW hasn’t confirmed any details on the engine line-up, but as the new car is the more performance-orientated brother of the 3 Series, only the most powerful engines from the saloon’s line-up are likely. So expect the range to kick off with a 181bhp 420i model, while the 242bhp 430i and 302bhp 435i will complete the 4 Series petrol line-up.
Diesel options will comprise the 181bhp 420d, the 254bhp 430d and a new 309bhp 435d. As with the 3 Series, buyers will get a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic boxes.
A four-wheel-drive version of the 420i will also be offered, and at the top of the range will be an M4 Coupe and Convertible, to sit alongside the soon-to-be-launched M3 saloon. All three cars will use the same engine, which is reported to be a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder with around 450bhp.
Every engine in the 4 Series range – including that in the M4 – will focus on increasing efficiency. As the new car is expected to be lighter than the 3 Series, and has a more aerodynamic shape, it could improve on that model’s economy. This means we can expect the 420d to be capable of well over 60mpg, with CO2 emissions under 120g/km.
The 4 Series Coupe will go head-to-head with the Audi A5 in showrooms. It’ll be priced competitively with the A5, which means it’ll also be more expensive than the 3 Series, which starts from £24,880.
A price tag closer to £28,000 is likely for the 4 Series, and for that buyers will get more equipment than those who go for the 3 Series. There will be a choice of SE, Sport and top-of-the-range M Sport models.
The 4 Series Convertible will appear in showrooms shortly after the Coupe, early in 2014, and the 4 Series Gran Coupe won’t be far behind. The latter will be marked out from the Coupe by an extra set of doors, and a stretched wheelbase to free up more space in the back seats.