2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe Review: 420d, 428i And 435i

Tim O'Brien | 19 Comments

BMW 4 SERIES REVIEW

What’s hot: Beautiful long wide styling; fabulous chassis and handling
What’s not: Vague ‘Comfort’ mode, kickdown a tad slow
X-FACTOR: Performance, glamour looks and beautifully trimmed – BMW’s new style leader.

Vehicle style: Premium sports coupe
Price: 420d: $71,800 | 428i: $80,500 | 435i: $108,500

Engine/transmission:
420d - 2.0 litre turbo diesel; 135kW/380Nm; 8spd sport automatic
428i - 2.0 litre turbo petrol; 180kW/350Nm; 8spd sport automatic
435i - 3.0 litre turbo petrol straight-6; 225kW/400Nm; 8spd sport automatic

Fuel consumption
420d - 4.6 l/100km | tested: 6.3 l/100km
428i - 6.4 l/100km | tested: 10.1 l/100km
435i - 7.4 l/100km | tested: 10.7 l/100km

Is this – BMW’s new 4 Series Coupe – the best looking coupe to come from Bavaria since the venerable 3.0 CSi?

Long and wide, a spearing bonnet and beautifully sculpted coachwork sitting squat over fat rubber, the 4 Series Coupe is a very arresting car. Even if it drove like a dog, you’d want one in your garage.

Fortunately, it doesn’t.

We drove the 420d, 428i and 435i at the new 4 Series Coupe’s Australian launch. This put us across some of the best driving roads you’ll find in this country: a reaching run over Victoria’s high country and down to The Ninety Mile Beach.

The entry 420i petrol variant, not available at launch but arriving January 2014, rounds out the new 4 Series range.

And what is it about that number ‘4’ on the boot - a 3 Series with a newer hat and two less doors? Well, yes, but no. What might once have been the 3 Series Coupe is now the 4 Series.

While it shares a lot of what you don’t see with the 3 Series: it’s been busted-out into its own range and sits wider, lower and flatter, with shorter overhangs and more heavily-sculpted front and rear quarters.

Whatever (and who cares), these cars will sell on good looks alone. But that’s to sell it short. The 4 Series Coupe is to its core a driver’s car.

Each of the engine variants is immensely enjoyable on-road: swift, responsive, and beautifully balanced.

The 435i is quickest by a good margin, but put any on a mountain pass and you’ll revel in the rigid chassis, low centre of gravity and precise handling. Even the least powerful 420d is surprisingly fleet-footed.

THE INTERIOR

Of the premium Germans, a BMW interior is - I think - now the benchmark.

Typically more daring than Audi in colour combinations and style, and with more panache and flair than the stolid but superbly executed accommodation you’ll find in Mercedes.

Like the 3 Series with which it shares a platform and many of its styling elements, the 4 Series Coupe is stunning inside.

Beautifully trimmed, flawless ‘thick’ leather, impeccable snug build, only the most ardent nit-picker could find fault with this layout and design.

Perhaps the screen is a little far away; the M Sport steering wheel a little too thick-rimmed (we preferred the standard sports wheel), and the doors swing a bit wide – they can be hard to reach to close when you’re settled in.

But that’s about it. The seats are nicely contoured, grippy and comfortable for press-on driving (even when nursing a shagged back), and there is a terrific sportscar feel to the square-on wheel and low seating position.

The rear seats are similarly well-shaped, access to the back is good - as is legroom - although headroom is a bit tighter.

The screen display and controller is very easy to use, the sound system is thumping, sat-nav includes a nifty satellite view, and comfort functions for the aircon and heating are clear and simply operated.

The 4 Series Coupe can be specified in three ‘lines’: Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line (the latter available November), each with subtle changes to design elements and feature specification – Sport looks a little more dynamic inside and out, Luxury, more sumptuous.

Across the range there is no shortage of standard features (something that could not be said of BMWs past).

2013 bmw 4 series launch review 16

Each comes with Dakota leather upholstery, auto climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX-in and USB interface, anti-dazzle mirror, sat-nav, rear-view camera, electric seat adjustment, gearshift paddles, rain-sensing wipers, bi-Xenon headlamps, among a longer list depending upon specification.

Safety features common across the range include ABS, cornering brake control, stability and traction control, and front and side airbags for driver and front passenger. You won’t find a BMW with less than 5-Star NCAP safety rating.

ON THE ROAD

BMW’s ‘twin-power’ turbo engines are delicious units. The one you choose will depend upon the depth of your pocket and how hard you want to hammer the nail.

While the 428i with 180kW and 350Nm is quick, and will rifle through the eight-speed transmission to bolt to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds, the 435i is a spear.

With 225kW and 400Nm, and an extra two cylinders doing the work in the 3.0 litre straight-six under the bonnet, it will find 100kmh in 5.1 seconds and lay a long strip of scorched rubber while doing so.

Of the three under test, the 420d is the cheapest at $71,800 (by a long chalk), the most fuel efficient (by a country mile) and slowest – if 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds is ‘slow’.

But don’t dismiss the oil-burner. This 135kW/380Nm 2.0 litre diesel is one of the best in the business.

It’s quiet, spins effortlessly and mid-speed acceleration is very lively. It has no trouble belting out and around when overtaking, and from 2500rpm it will pull strongly on a gathering wave of torque.

The 435i will show it a clean pair of heels on the straights, but the 420d will be clinging to its foofer through a tight set of corners.

The 435i is available only with the M Sport package. Aside from some suspension tweaks, bigger wheels, brakes and aerodynamic features, it’s essentially a ‘go-faster’ dress-up kit.

Each in the range comes with the eight-speed automatic as standard, paddle shifters and selective transmission, steering and suspension modes. (To clarify, and noting comments below, each can also be specified with six-speed manual as a no-cost option - Ed.)

There is an Eco mode, which activates the stop/start technology and ‘Comfort’ for a more compliant suspension setting and ‘lightened’ steering.

We don’t much like Comfort mode. It gives the steering an indirect and flabby feel and ‘vagues-out’ some of the feel for the road when cornering.

Sure as eggs, it’s the pick around town, but not on a mountain road.

The more dynamic Sport and Sport+ modes are the ones you want when tackling a mountain road. That said, on test we found the 435i a little looser at the front (even in Sport+) than the 428i and 420d.

We suspect the tyre pressures may have been a little soft. It was less inclined to hold a tight line (without some help from the rear) and certainly wanted to squeal more than its four-cylinder counterparts when shown the whip.

If you’re sure of your skills, Sport+ turns off the traction control (almost – it’ll catch you when you run out of skill).

It’s a bit of a hoot. In this setting you can tuck the nose in and get on the gas early to step the back out and tighten the line. Technically, you might refer to it as “increasing the yaw rotation”; to you and me it’s “sliding the arse around”.

We also love the eight-speed transmission: who needs a twin clutch when you’ve got a conventional torque-converter auto as good as this one? (That’s a question we’ve asked more than once.)

In Sport or Manual mode, it will belt though the changes with lightning-quick shifts. But if you want it to kick down quickly, it’s a job for the paddles.

Left to its own devices (in full auto), we think it’s a little slow to downshift, especially if looking for a stamp of power out of a corner.

2013 bmw 4 series launch review 14
Lastly, the amazing balance of this new 4 Series can’t pass without comment.

With a long wheelbase, a really wide track, and 50:50 weight balance, the 4 Series Coupe is superbly settled on road.

The suspension is firm, especially in the Sport modes, and you’re always aware of what’s happening at the wheels, but even over broken tarmac it sits flat and unruffled.

Where once BMW sporting suspensions were almost unbearably firm, this one is about right. It feels alive – it’s a performance drive after all – but it’s not going to hammer your kidneys into mash.

Fuel consumption? We drove them hard; the 420d returned 6.3 l/100km, the 428i, 10.1 l/100km and the 435i, 10.7 l/100km.

FIRST DRIVE VERDICT

On glamour looks, the 4 Series Coupe might just become the car of the moment.

It sits beautifully squat at the rear and its long raked bonnet and rear-set glasshouse is reminiscent of an earlier age of BMW coupes.

But, style aside, the 4 Series Coupe is a car for drivers.

The electric steering might lack the precise connected feel of hydraulic BMW systems of old, but, take your pick – 420d, 428i, or 435i – each is an immensely enjoyable car with fabulous on-road dynamics.

Right now, we’re drawn most to the 420d, but when the 420i arrives here in January it will have a $69,500 sticker hanging from the doorhandle. This car, at that price? It’s going to find a lot of friends.

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

The 4 Series is available from October.

  • BMW 420i Coupe - $69,500 (from January)
  • BMW 420d Coupe - $71,800
  • BMW 428i Coupe - $80,500
  • BMW435i Coupe - $108,500

Filed under: Featured, review, BMW, bmw m sport, coupe, sport, performance, prestige, lifestyle, Advice, special-featured, enthusiast, 6cyl, 4cyl, bmw 4 series, tim o'brien, available, 2014my, bmw 4 series m sport

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  • Driver says,
    9 months ago
    10 likes
    And let the comments about it being too high priced begin. If its too high priced for you it means you are not the target demographic or don't deserve to own it. Get out of denial that you can't own it and get out of of the comments section.

    Get back to the Kia, Hyundai and Toyota 86 reviews where you can salivate over under 30k drive away prices you sad sods.
    • Jeff says,
      9 months ago
      2 likes
      too dear
      • Wtf says,
        9 months ago
        3 likes
        Way too much!
        Should be $30,000 to $35,000 drive away.
        • Balthazaaaaaargh says,
          9 months ago
          2 likes
          Way too much!
          Should be $30,000 to $35,000 drive away.


          rofl
    • the hut says,
      9 months ago
      2 likes
      A bit pricey if you ask me
      • jason mcroberts says,
        9 months ago
        6 likes
        im picking my 435i up tomorrow at 6pm yeeha! had it ordered since July. as for too dear?? maybe, but so is 'everything' in this country, so you kind of get used to it really don't you. people who buy these cars don't really think about price too much..
        • Jonty says,
          9 months ago
          5 likes
          Good stuff jason...enjoy. I find most people who comment seem to have forgotten that for an enthusiast it should be about simply enjoying the drive that you can afford.
    • Roger says,
      9 months ago
      1 like
      You just dont get it do you.....let me explain it again....in other countries the price you pay here for a 4 series will get you an M3, Cayman S or Boxster S just to make a comparison. These cars are on a different level. The 4 series is great, I dont like being taken for a fool though...obviously you dont mind.
      • dayday says,
        9 months ago
        4 likes
        People get it. You live in this country, so if you want to enjoy good things, pay the premium. There is no other way.
      • Steve says,
        1 month ago
        Perhaps you don't get it? We all understand that we pay more than many other countries, but what are you going to do? What do you drive? Whatever it is it can be bought for less elsewhere. Don't sob over it. Move to Singapore and buy a car, then you'll be saying how cheap cars are in Australia. Besides it's all relative - you'll get as much for it when you sell it as the Yanks pay for new.
    • Dianne says,
      9 months ago
      It is comments like this as to why I won't buy a a BMW , I took my boxter s in to trade in on a BMW thinking I would like some comfort over performance , as I paid 120k for the car I appreciate what a car is worth , when it came to doing a deal I wasn't happy with the change over price , only to be told rudely if I can't afford it I should look else were ,
      Maybe you should change you attitude not the price
  • MotorMouth says,
    9 months ago
    5 likes
    I'm sorry but a "car for drivers" has a clutch pedal. If not, then it's just for motorists and poseurs, no matter how good it goes.
    • Jonty says,
      9 months ago
      Wow, talk about a sweeping generality. No manual means no enthusiast or driver...my preference is to judge the car on its merits, not just its gearbox.
      • MotorMouth says,
        9 months ago
        1 like
        My preference is to enjoy driving it, not to sit there while the car does all the work. There is simply no possible way for an auto to be as enjoyable as a manual, simply because nailing a gear change is an integral part of enjoying any driving experience. The car is available with a manual transmission in other markets, it's only in Australia that it is a slushbox or nothing.
        • Balthazaaaaaargh says,
          9 months ago
          Damn it, Jonty, who are you to question MM's definition of what it takes to be considered a true enthusiast? If you're happy with this car having an auto, clearly you are not an enthusiast despite what you might think.

          note: turn sarcasm filter right up.
          • Jonty says,
            9 months ago
            Clearly Balthazaaaargh what was I thinking... As for manual vs 'slushbox' I have owned 4 cars over 20 years, 3 manual and 1 'slushie'. As a non enthusiast I have enjoyed them all.
  • martin says,
    9 months ago
    Styling is quite appealing except for lower front bumper area where driving lights look like a poached egg on a fast food plastic tray and with some added cutlery on the Luxury and Modern lines. Cars 20 years ago looked much classier than this with chrome or stainless bezelled lights flush with the bumper.
  • Don Smy says,
    9 months ago
    1 like
    Is it just me or does the styling look bland to others as well? I owned the previous model but just couldn't warm to this one so changed brands. Now that I'm back on something without run flats, I have to say I'll never go back to them. On our roads, they are useless!

    The other thing that turned me away is this, the dsc system failed on my E92 325i. The cost of repair in the USA was $500. In the uk, $2500. In the lucky country, $5000 just for the part. $700 to install it.
  • Abautomatics says,
    9 months ago
    1 like
    Like the styling and interior. It is comfortable and classy, it is worth buying.

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