It is refreshing to get in to a mid-sized coupe and not an SUV or crossover for a change. The 4 Series is the two-door version of the 3 Series saloon/sedan and as such is meant to be the less practical but prettier version of the two – well we can confirm its less practical. As a car the 4 is quite accomplished but the elephant in the room is its divisive styling.
The new coupe’s longer exterior (+128mm) has attracted more criticism than praise. Our black test car does a reasonable job of disguising the new 4’s bucked-teeth kidney grille and large rump so choose you colour and grade carefully. From some angles the car looks a little out of proportion. Coupes are meant to be stunning, graceful and more desirable than the four-door cars they’re based on but sadly the new 4 Series, despite its frameless doors lacks that instant wow factor. If you squint and ignore the grille (that will feature on more new Beemers) the front end is nicely low set and you know the car has a slippery drag profile (420d Cd. 0.25). The flanks lead the eye to the rear wheel arch and C pillar area where to my eyes things could be sleeker. The convertible version manages this area a lot better. Access is good with doors that are not too long and there is the motorised seatbelt giver that makes the driving process more civilised. The 4 looks like a fastback but features a good sized boot that also houses a couple of levers to allow you drop the rear seat backs.
The coupe’s cabin is bigger thanks to its longer 2,851mm wheelbase (+41mm) and the car is a little taller too by 6mm. Inside you’ll find a contemporary looking BMW with digital displays, the familiar iDrive controller and all the familiar high quality switches and materials you’d expect. The new 4 gets BMW’s operating system 7 and this allows for lots of connectivity and over the air update ability. The technology side of the 4 Series needs buyers to pay attention at the handover or they will need to go to night classes to get the most out of the OS. Our test car weighed in at circa €60,000 and at that price you’d expect to want for little, but no.
When you press the auto high beam function on the indicator stalk a display appears for the driver that says you you can the function is ‘acquirable’… acquirable?! BMW and other premium German brands are travelling down a slippery slope of charging for additional functions that should be standard in a premium car. I don’t want to go to BMW’s online store to buy options and neither should buyers! A premium car should be well equipped at base level – if mainstream cheaper brands can include things like auto lights in their pricing BMW should too. This recent rise of subscriptions services must be resisted as it is about making blatant profit and not about delivering a premium ownership experience. If certain higher-end brands aren’t careful they will lose their lofty status and be seen as money grabbers – rant over (for now).
The new Dingolfing built 4 Series gets 48 volt MHEV technology in its diesel engine range (420d, 430d & 440d) and on the 440i petrol (straight-six). This mild electrification helps increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Petrol only models are available from the 420i (430i & 440i) up to the 510hp M4. An eight-speed ‘steptronic’ auto gearbox is standard and it can be ordered with an optional ’Sprint’ setting. Rear wheel drive is standard with xDrive intelligent all wheel drive available. BMW says ‘Customers can tailor the driving experience with options that include M Sport suspension, Adaptive M suspension with variable sport steering, M Sport brakes and the M Sport differential’.
On the road, as you’d expect, the 4 Series drives and handles beautifully with 50/50 weight distribution. The coupe also has a lower centre of gravity compared to the 3 Series. The coupe also has a wider track than the car it replaces (+28mm front +18mm rear). Our rear wheel drive 420d four-cylinder 2 litre diesel test car delivered a reasonable amount of power without feeling particularly thrilling. You won’t crave fast laps on the Nurburgring with its 190hp but it does deliver an impressive 400nm of torque. The 420d will cruise the motorway network effortlessly. 0-100km/h takes a brisk 7.1 seconds and top speed is 240km/h. With the rapid rise of petrol/hybrids and petrol/PHEVS the 420d should ideally be chosen by long distance commuters. Its fuel consumption is impressive at 3.9-4.2 l/100km (72.4-67.3mpg) and emissions are low with a CO2 figure of 103-112g/km.
4 Series pricing in Ireland starts from €53,930 for the 420i (petrol). Our 420d M Sport model started from €56,188 and came: M Sport Brakes with Blue Calipers, BMW Individual Lights Shadow Line, M Sport Seat Belts, Enhanced Active Sound Design, BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line with extended contents. The M Sport Pro Package (€3,381.34) delivers 19″ M Double-spoke Bicolour Jet Black Alloy Wheels and Adaptive Suspension. Our car’s black sapphire paint cost €906. The new 4 Series is a lovely car to drive and its relatively compact proportions manage Ireland’s road network well… I just wish it was prettier.