SAY what you like about the front end of the 2021 BMW 420i M Sport, in fact the whole 4 Series in general. It’s probably the most controversial grille to ever grace a range of vehicles from the German car maker. We’ll say this. In the flesh, it’s sexy.
For all those who just choked on their coffee in shock, hear us out. The design harks back to some of the most legendary BMW models ever built, and is simply a modern twist on an iconic look. And we love it, right down to its LED headlights and fog lights.
Until you’ve actually sidled up to the 420i and its sleek design, in person, it’s easy to brush off the way it’s drawn as ugly, unattractive our even completely out of place. But as a whole package, this thing just works. It looks the goods. Truly.
With classy styling and decent performance, the 2021 BMW 420i M Sport is essentially the entry level model to a range that tops out with the beast that is the M440i, and is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine.
That powerplant generates 135kW of power and 300Nm of torque. It’s paired to an 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. It will haul in the 100km/h benchmark in 7.5 seconds. It’s no slouch, but it’s no speed racer either.
The combination generates a claimed 6.4-litres/100km. The best we could manage was 7.1-litres/100km in a pretty decent attempt at being economical. That’s pretty damn close to what BMW says you should get.
On the road, the 420i is smooth to drive, and feels genuinely settled, even when pushed hard. The M Sport suspension is just right and its trio of driving modes (Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport), all offer a quality driving experience.
Comfort feels a little too controlled, or perhaps sedate, but Sport is good. In fact it’s really good. The nice thing about this two-door cruiser though is you can use the Individual settings to find the perfect marriage of control and performance.
For us that sat in having everything but the steering in Comfort mode, with that one component switched to Sport mode. The combination gives you exceptional handling, and a car that’s eager to dive into corners, and eat up twisty roads.
It rides on 19-inch M light alloy wheels and features the M aerodynamics packages as standard, which adds front and rear bumper trims and side sills. But like a good chocolate, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Thanks to the latest BMW operating system and vastly improved voice recognition, you can genuinely interact with the car, and all while not even having to take your eyes off the road. If you do glance to the infotainment system, it’s big, at 10.25-inches.
All that screen space means it’s easy to navigate too (thanks to the options of touchscreen or BMW’s control pad in the centre console, or the steering wheel – so many choices). There’s plenty to interact with too.
That infotainment system is powered by BMW ConnectedDrive and features satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, real time traffic information, split screen functionality, DAB+ digital radio, and Bluetooth connectivity.
There’s also a pretty kick-ass 10 speaker sound system with a 205W digital amplifier, and the instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch full digital display. There’s no leather in the 420i, but what you do get is a combination Alcantara/Sensatec interior in black.
It features contrast blue stitching and is actually really nice, and probably a little more family friendly. There’s one standard USB-A port and a USB-C port as well (handy if you have a modern phone), a 12v power socket, and wireless phone charging.
You can stay chill, or warm, with automatic three-zone climate control, and the sport seats up front are electrically adjustable (with memory function for the driver). Looks wise, all the shiny bits feature aluminium tetragon. It’s very snazzy.
Luggage wise, you’ll find a very decent 440-litres of boot space. We took the 420i M Sport to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for a winter weekend getaway, and even with a 9-year-old in tow (and all the luggage that adds), we had plenty of room.
If you find yourself seated in the back, rear head and leg room are adequate, providing you’re under 6-foot. The rear seats are genuinely comfortable though, which is a nice change from the parcel shelf antics of some other brands.
It even got the tick of approval from the small human, who was not only cosy, with her various toys and devices spread out across the seats, she didn’t feel car sick (a bonus given we were travelling all the way from the Central Coast in a single trip).
As the base model, it does miss out on a few things that the other variants get though, like adaptive cruise control, and BMW’s digital key (that lets you open your car and start it with your iPhone).
You also won’t get M Sport brakes (unless you option them) or Parking Assistant Plus, the latter of which adds front cross-traffic warning, steering and lane control assist, lane keep assist with side collision warning, crossroads warning and the evasion aid.
What you do score though is a bunch of airbags, automatic and dynamic stability control, ABS, brake assist, cornering brake assist, dynamic traction control and a head-up display.
BMW also adds its standard driving and parking assistant packages, which include lane departure and lane change warning, front collision warning with brake intervention, rear cross traffic warning and rear collision protection.
It also comes with reversing assistant, park distance control for both ends, a lateral parking aid and rear view camera. All in all that means the 420i is pretty damn safe, but the 430i and M440i are a little bit safer.
The 2021 BMW 420i M Sport comes with a 3-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and is available in Alpine White, Black Sapphire, Mineral White (as tested), Portimao Blue, San Remo Green, Actric Race Blue.
It can also be had in BMW Individual colours Dravit Grey Metallic and Tanzanite Blue Metallic. The 420i M Sport competes with the likes of the Audi A5 40 TFSI, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe.
It’s priced at $70,900 plus on-roads in its standard form. Throw in the Visibility package and Shadow Line components our test vehicle came with, and you’ll be looking at a drive away price somewhere around $85K.
Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2021 BMW 420i M Sport, contact your local BMW dealer.