We parked our BMW 420i outside a mate’s house and he shouted: “Wow, that’s the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen.” A bit over-the-top, but BMW coupes have always engendered that sort of response…they are show-stoppers.
Our mate had previously owned a 3 Series Coupe so he knows BMWs. So he knows the 4 Series shares its underpinnings with the latest 3 Series but its extra dimensions count for a lot.
BMW 420i Overview
This is the replacement for BMW’s 3 Series Coupe as the German giant seeks to differentiate its two-door and four-door models. The 4 Series Coupe has been joined by the 4 Series Convertible and 4 Series Gran Coupe models.
CarShowroom.com.au tested the new entry-level BMW 4 Series Coupe – the 420i with a turbocharged, 2.0-litre petrol engine. Priced at $69,500 the 420i is somewhat the bargain as next up the ‘Totem Pole’, the 428i, requires an outlay of $80,500.
Our test car was fitted with the ‘Sport Line’ extra which provides a host of exterior and interior enhancements which are worthwhile.
As far as prestige European coupes go, the BMW 4 Series is the latest to be launched and provides real competition for older rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
BMW 420i Engine
BMW’s turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine delivers 135kW of power between 5000-6250rpm and peak torque of 270Nm between 1250-4500rpm. Drive is to the rear wheels via BMW slick eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 420i was added to the 4 Series Coupe lineup early this year after the range was launched with 428i and 435i petrol variants plus the 420d turbo-diesel.
BMW 420i The Interior
Ah, the familiarity of a BMW – the traditional dashboard layout, sporty low driving position and the stalks and switchgear just as we remember. No electric adjustment for the steering wheel but the manual rake/reach adjustment and electronic seat manoeuvring soon had us comfortable.
The supportive sports seats with recessed head restraints were excellent (contrast red stitching as part of the ‘Sport Line’) and the automatic seat belt feeders and tighteners were reminders this is after-all a BMW and technology abounds. Same for the iDrive Touch Controller which got plenty of work straight away as our 420i arrived with the radio set to Sydney stations and we urgently need some AFL scores.
Access to the two rear seats is straight forward and one there the CarShowroom.com.au juniors had their own centre console with intricate fold-out cup-holders.
Luggage capacity is 445-litres.
BMW420i Exterior & Styling
BMW’s Coupes have never been hit with the ‘ugly stick’ but in our eyes the 4 Series Coupe is a standout. The extra dimensions over the previous 3 Series Coupe (+26mm overall at 4638mm, +50mm in the wheelbase at 2810mm and -16mm in height at 1362mm have transformed the aesthetic of BMW’s coupe in a way which you have to see to believe.
Naturally the proportions remain classic BMW coupe – short overhangs, long bonnet, flowing roofline and set-back passenger compartment – are there. But, here’s the significant bit, the newcomer is wider – 43mm overall with an extra 45mm in the front track and 80mm at the rear.
And the 4 Series Coupe brings an aerodynamic transformation too. That detail work at the front-end and lots of clever underbody stuff has delivered a drag co-efficient of just 0.28 and means the 420i actually has the same lift co-efficient as the sporty BMW M3 Coupe.
At the front is the signature BMW front-end design – except there’s a slight forward-tilt for the kidney grille. And BMW’s new aerodynamic ‘Air Curtains’ are there with front inlets and outlet breathers in the front fenders, behind the wheels.
The rear is again muscular and highlighted by the L-shaped tail-lights which are BMW standards these days.
Our 420i test car was fitted with the ‘Sport Line’ extras highlighted by black trim items which add to the high-performance flavour.
BMW 420i On The Road
For once the circumstances worked in our favour and we were able to put our BMW 420i through CarShowroom.com.au’s high-speed mountain roads test loop twice – once in the dry and once in the wet. Significantly wider, lower and more rigid than the previous 3 Series Coupe, boasting 50:50 weight distribution and riding on excellent 225/40/R19 Bridgestone Potenza tyres, the 4 Series Coupe shares the same platform as the 3 Series sedan but with a unique calibration for springs, dampers, camber angle and roll centre (the latter 19mm lower than the 3 Series sedan).
We liked the calibration of the electric power steering – feel was good at all speeds and in the high speed stuff - damp or dry - feedback was good across all types of corners. This point of view does put us at odds with some reviewers who have strangely criticised the 4 Series Coupe’s steering – they must have got out of bed on the wrong side the morning they drove the car.
Same for the suspension which was the usual ‘European firm’ (Melbourne’s notorious tram track crossings test your resilience) which paid off over our high-speed runs with tremendous response, turn-in and balance in the varying conditions.
Back in the city, our BMW 420i was just a delightful car to drive with ample response, good all-round visibility and BMW’s standout reversing camera. However the surprisingly large 11.3-metre turning circle meant CBD and shopping mall parking required a considered approach.
BMW 420i Challenges
BMW’s 420i sedan weighs-in at 1400kgs and the coupe model adds around 50kgs…the result is pushing the edge of the envelope for the 135kW/270Nm turbo 2.0-litre in terms of sporty dynamics.
BMW 420i Verdict
BMW sure knows how to win-over enthusiast drivers – glorious coupe looks and a sweet chassis are a great combo in anyone’s books. And just taking a pew behind the tiller provides all the tactile confirmation you need to confirm the 420i is a driver’s car.
As usual with BMW, the 420i Sport is equipped with ample goodies (just the leather seats, beautifully sporty steering wheel and 19-inch alloys tick our boxes) to justify that sharp $69,500 sticker.
Sure the stretch to the more powerful 428i ($80,500) brings a welcome payback with more grunt but nothing takes away from the looks and driving enjoyment of the 420i. The bygone 3 Series Coupe was a pearler but the 4 Series is better in every department…brilliant.
BMW 420i The Competition
Audi’s A5 Coupe is one Ingolstadt’s standout styling jobs. Front-drive entry-level 1.8 TFSI ($66,900) gets the job done with 125kW/320Nm from its turbo 1.8 but stretch to the 2.0 TFSI Quattro ($80,900) and you get 155kW/350Nm plus all-paw grip.
Mercedes-Benz C250 ($70,400) is the natural predator of the 4 Series Coupe. And here’s where BMW’s turbo 2.0-litre is challenged with the C250 pumping-out 150kW/310Nm from its 1.8-litre turbo. Maybe not quite as agile in the twisty stuff as the ‘Beemer’ but a wonderful car by any measure.