BMW 4 Series Coupe Review and First Drive

by under Review on 17 Oct 2013 10:06:31 AM17 Oct 2013
2013 BMW 4
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You could say BMW forged its formidable reputation on high-performance coupes. Well there is certainly a long line of stunning BMW two-doors and here’s the latest edition – the all-new 4 Series.

2013 BMW 4

Now launched in Australia and to be followed by the hard-top convertible version, the BMW 4 Series has what it takes to fill the big shoes into which it steps.

BMW 4 Series Overview

The all-new BMW 4 Series replaces the previous 3 Series Coupe and while closely related to the latest 3 Series range, there are significant differences (for starters the 4 Series is longer and wider than the outgoing 3 Series Coupe). Looks are stunning and even though the BMW 4 Series is a four-seater, those seated in the rear will enjoy plenty of legroom and comfort.
BMW Australia has launched the all-new 4 Series with three models (420d, 428i and 435i). The entry-level 135kW/270Nm 420i ($69,500) will arrive in January and although its technical details have not been announced, BMW says it will mirror the 420d for equipment.

2013 BMW 4

As always with BMW there is a myriad of technical detail which you need to get on top of. For example the range-topping 435i comes standard with the wonderful M Sport package and both it and the 428i come standard with adaptive M suspension which lowers the ride height by 10mm and provides adjustable damping.
And there’s ‘Sport Line’, ‘Modern Line’ and ‘Luxury Line’ packages to contemplate.
The full range is:
420i $69,500
420d $71,800
428i $80,500
435i $108,500

BMW 4 Series Engine

As per the 3 Series, the BMW 4 Series employs an all-turbocharged engine lineup.
Entry-level 420i sees the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder with 135kW/270Nm.
BMW 428i uses the more powerful 180kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre.

2013 BMW 4

And of course the 435i gains the wonderful turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder with 225kW/400Nm.
Diesel power comes in the form of the 420d’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel with 135kW/380Nm.
All drive the rear wheels via BMW’s superb eight-speed automatic (different ratios for the 420d of course). A six-speed manual transmission is optional.

BMW 4 Series The Interior

Clearly there are some design cues from the interior of the latest 3 Series – that means one of the best automotive interiors of the current generation. Of course the rear seats are unique to the 4 Series with integrated head restraints and variable split-fold functionality (40/60 or 40/20/40 with a ‘ski’ port).

2013 BMW 4

There are nice colour matched accent strips and of course beautiful Dakota leather (our 420d in stylish Veneto Beige colour). And of course - typical BMW - the seats are supremely comfortable (the sports seats in the 435i with M Sport Package were our favourites).
Ditto the driving position (again the thick three-spoke M Sport steering wheel in our 435i won the day). To the left of the driver is the 8.8-inch colour screen for the satellite navigation and audio (16-speaker Harman Kardon in the 435i).
That screen also sees duty for the standard top view/side view/rear view camera system and there’s also a Head Up Display available.
And there’s also the usual BMW technology including active cruise control, lane departure warning, lane changing assistance and collision warning.
A special word for the automatic seat belt feeders for driver and front seat passenger – unlike some other similar design, BMW’s actually work.

2013 BMW 4

But here’s the kicker – there’s lots of space in the rear seat. OK, it’s no 760Li, but full-size adults will find access to the rear seat in the BMW 4 Series easily done and once seated a pleasant surprise in terms of leg room, knee room and head room.

BMW 4 Series Exterior & Styling

The tale of the tape shows the differences. Compared to the outgoing 3 Series Coupe, the all-new BMW 4 Series is 26mm longer overall, 50mm longer in the wheelbase and the roofline is 16mm lower. Also the tracks are considerably wider (+45mm in the front and 80-mm in the rear).
There are lots of contours in the bodywork and the front sees a large intake and the now fashionable ‘air curtains’ (which duct air into the front wheel-wells and ducts it out again with side fender vents). We’ll accept an argument on the effectiveness of those side curtains - at all but autobahn speeds - but not the appearance (they look great and very sporty).

2013 BMW 4

Lines are beautiful and typically BMW-precise with a glorious swoop for the roof and wonderful swage lines along the side.
Fenders are flared with gorgeous style and in fact, thanks to that wide track, the 4 Series debuts a BMW first – the rear-end is actually the widest part of the car.
And of course the BMW 4 Series is an aerodynamic masterpiece – drag Cd is just 0.28.

BMW 4 Series On The Road

Here was a great day. Over the stunning roads from Milawa in northern Victoria to Paynesville on the coast via Mount Hotham and Swifts Creek, we drove a 428i Sport Line, 435i M Sport and 420d Luxury Line.
As you expect from BMW Coupes, the all-new 4 Series is without doubt one of the best chassis’ money can buy. Regardless of the model, wheel size and specs, the balance, the feedback, the precision, the road-holding and the refinement…well it’s a BMW, so we’re not surprised.

2013 BMW 4

Obviously the M Sport equipped 435i was the standout. In ‘Sport’ or ‘Sport +’ BMW has brilliantly calibrated the driver aids so there is just the right amount of rear-end feel (oversteer is too strong a word) for enthusiasts to, well…enthuse about. This car over those roads was undoubtedly one of the drives of the year.
But a word for the 420d turbo-diesel – in terms of driving dynamics only marginally behind the 428i and 435i. Now admittedly the car we drove was fitted with adaptive M suspension (optional on this model) and the luxury line package which brings 18-inch wheels – regardless this is a high-performance German coupe of the highest standing which delights with its sophistication, interior elegance and a neat ‘party trick’ of 4.6l/100kms combined cycle fuel consumption – the same as Volkswagen’s considerably smaller 1.6-litre, 132kW/250Nm Polo GTI.

BMW 4 Series Challenges

‘Sport Line’, ‘Modern Line’, ‘Luxury Line’, ‘M Sport Package’, two pages of optional equipment and one page of genuine accessories means ordering your BMW 4 Series won’t be a ‘five-minute job’.

BMW 4 Series Verdict

Back before the internet was invented your Car Showroom correspondent was lucky enough to be invited to race a BMW 3.0 CSL…so we’ve followed the evolution of BMW coupes for a long, long time. The point is the team in Munich has been at this high performance European coupe thing for decades and the all-new 4 Series is the latest in a line of vehicles which does not contain one model which is less than hugely desirable.
Add the 4 Series to that list immediately.
2013 BMW 4
In fact, the 435i with M Sport package is one of the best cars we’ve driven this year – we’ll be dreaming for months about that run over Mount Hotham with the turbo six revving hard, that sublime chassis and absolutely perfectly calibrated electronic aids doing their thing.
But regardless of the model, the BMW 4 Series rewards with hallmark BMW technology, that beautiful styling and five-star interior. And the fact the rear seat is spacious enough for adults means family buyers can purchase a BMW 4 Series guilt-free.
We’d happily have a 4 Series in the Car Showroom garage permanently. 

BMW 4 Series The Competition

Here’s how tight the competition is between Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The ‘Benz C-Class Coupe starts very competitively at $59,900 (C180 with identical engine performance to the 420i); only $100 separates the turbo-diesel models ($71,800 for the 420d and $71,900 for the C250 CDI). We suspect the 4 Series may have a tad more rear seat space, but we love the C-Class Coupe too and for us picking between ‘Benz and BMW 4 Series would be like asking a parent to nominate their favourite child.

2013 BMW 4

Of course the Audi A5 Coupe is a little larger than 4 Series or C Class, but starting at $66,900 we’re including it in the mix because it too is one of our favourite German coupes (and realistically people shopping in this league will have it on their lists). Both the turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel are crackers (hey they’re Audis, need we say any more?). And if you don’t like the looks of the A5 Coupe we’d suggest an optometrist’s appointment. 

BMW 4 Series Likes:

Glorious looks inside and out; brilliant driving dynamics; genuine rear seat space for adults.

BMW 4 Series Dislikes:

 You need to check what’s standard, packaged and optional to ensure you get everything you require.

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