Motors: BMW 4 Series review

BMW 420d Coupe
BMW 420d Coupe
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THE number may have changed but the BMW 4 Series’ recipe for success is largely the same as the 3 Series Coupés that preceded it.

This time round, the 4 has been on a weight loss plan and features a lower centre of gravity, but otherwise you know what to expect.

The oily bits are shared with the 3 Series as it would be cost prohibitive to do anything otherwise. This means a choice of three engines, the biggest seller of which is certain to be the 181bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel in the 420d coupé. Should you prefer a petrol engine, you’ll like the turbocharged 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol unit producing 242bhp in the 428i coupé. Despite the badge suggestion, it’s not a six cylinder motor. For this you’ll require the range-topping 435i coupé, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine that delivers some 302bhp.

There’s also a base 420i model with a 184bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol powerplant and two 3.0-litre six-cylinder common rail diesel variants: the 430d with a 258bhp and the 435d xDrive with a hefty 313bhp at its disposal, drive being directed to all four wheels here. BMW has come late to the all-wheel drive game but is catching up fast, with xDrive models making up an increasing share of the product mix. The suspension is a modified version of the 3 Series’ largely aluminium setup, this time with adjustable dampers. Additional bracing helps it achieve a torsional rigidity figure some 60 per cent better than the E92 3 Series Coupé.

Does that bonnet look familiar to you? You’ll be forgiven a little deja vu there because it’s the only body panel the 4 Series shares with the 3; everything else is unique to this model. Also noteworthy is the fact that unlike 3 Series coupés of the past, the widest part of the 4 Series’ body is not across the front axle line but across the rear, giving it a subtly more power-packed look, underscoring its rear-wheel drive priority.

Otherwise, things are much as you’d expect if you were asked, sight unseen, what you expected a coupé version of the 3 Series to look like. It’s slightly larger than before but only by degrees. Overall length is up by 26mm, width increases by 43mm and height has decreased by 16mm.

Likewise, the cabin holds no great surprises if you’re familiar with the 3 Series’ architecture. You sit 19mm lower but you’re not going to need retraining when it comes to operating the dash controls or the infotainment system. There’s a robotised arm for the front seat belts and the door cards and seats are 4 Series-specific. The rear retains individual seats with a divider down the middle, which means the 4 Series is a strict four-seater.

The entry-level version gets leather heated seats, xenon headlamps, LED rear lights and a parking radar, as well as climate control. Satellite navigation is standard on most versions, but the adaptive dampers are a box you might want to tick on the options list as well as the sport steering. We could take or leave the sports seats, but the stereo upgrade is worth giving a listening to.

Should you feel that you can’t wait for the top M4 super-coupé variant, BMW will sell 435i owners a Power Kit which endows the car with another 34bhp and 37lb ft, taking its totals to 334bhp and 332lb ft. Prices for the standard 4 Series models are around £500 more than the outgoing 3 Series Coupé, which means that you’ll pay a premium of around £3,000 to go from equivalent 3 Series saloon to 4 Series Coupé.

The 4 Series may be pricey to buy but it’s surprisingly affordable to run. BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology is standard across the range, helping the cars achieve economy and emissions levels that belie the kind of performance that’s on offer. It’s hard to be unimpressed by the 428i, a petrol-engined performance saloon that can dip under six seconds to 60mph, yet still returns a fuel economy figure of 42.8mpg and emissions of just 154g/km.

The real standout performer at present is the 420d, which manages to wring 60 miles from a gallon of diesel and emits a mere 124g/km. Go for the range-topping 435i and you’ll see 35.8mpg and 185g/km.

VERDICT: A winning formula