THE SKIN MIGHT LOOK THE SAME, BUT THE ENTIRE PETROL ENGINE RANGE HAS BEEN REPLACED IN THE UPDATED BMW 4 SERIES COUPE, CONVERTIBLE AND GRAN COUPE.
Fuel consumption, power, torque and straight-line performance all benefit from the change. There’s been a rejig to the badging reflect the power boost too, with the 428i and 435i becoming the 430i and 440i respectively
Perhaps of more import for buyers, the 4 Series price and spec equation has also been dramatically altered. Prices are down (way down, in the case of the 440i) and specification levels have been pumped up.
Prices down, more features, new engines... this looks a lot like a better deal for BMW buyers.
Vehicle Style: Luxury coupe/convertible
Price: $68,900 to $117,900
420i: 135kW/270Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl | 8sp automatic
420d:140kW/400Nm 2.0 diesel 4cyl | 8sp automatic
430i: 185kW/350Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl | 8sp automatic
440i: 240kW/450Nm 3.0 petrol 6cyl | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed (coupe):
420i: 5.8 l/100km
420d: 4.3 l/100km
430i: 5.8 l/100km
440i: 6.8 l/100km
The BMW 4 Series family encompasses three bodystyles and four engines, for a total of 12 variants ranging in price from $68,900 (420i Coupe/Gran Coupe) to $117,900 (440i Convertible).
The coupe and convertible dominate the “Sports >$80k” segment, and adding Gran Coupe sales into the mix cements BMW’s position as the king of of sports luxury - at least as far as moving metal out of showrooms is concerned.
To retain that position, BMW’s product planners have sharpened the offering even further. All models are cheaper than before (by at least $2200 at the base end, and a whopping $10k for the 440i), while added standard equipment further improves the value equation.
For the 440i Coupe and Gran Coupe, BMW claims there’s now $22,745 of extra value - that’s huge, especially given that model (which replaces the 435i) not only gets more power, but no longer wears a six-figure price tag.
- Standard equipment: Cruise control, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, lane change warning, top-down camera view, head-up display, Dakota leather upholstery, power liftgate (Gran Coupe only)
- Infotainment: Navigation system professional with 8-inch colour display and iDrive controller, DAB+ digital radio, AM/FM/CD/USB/AUX audio, ConnectedDrive Lifestyle package, real-time traffic data
The differences in here aren’t so obvious, and, cosmetically at least, it’s virtually identical to last year’s model.
But the changes lie in specification. You might notice a few extra buttons here and there, and you’ll definitely spy the head-up display that’s a new addition for 2016.
Lane change warning, a top-down parking camera, self-dimming mirrors and BMW’s Driving Assistant autonomous emergency braking system are now standard across the range too, as is Adaptive M Suspension.
Move up into the 430i and there’s a leather-trimmed dashboard to run your fingers over plus keyless entry, while the 440i boasts the most added features with adaptive LED headlamps, heated front seats, auto highbeam, active cruise control and a self-parking function becoming standard.
Fundamentally though, it’s the same interior as before.
The sports seats that are standard on Sport Line trim offer decent support, the driving position is superb and highly adjustable, the back seat of the Coupe and Gran Coupe isn’t all that uncomfortable for the average adult (though watch that headroom if you’re tall) and the Convertible is best enjoyed by two adults at a time.
Throughout is the typical attention to detail and quality feel that we've come to expect from the Bavarian badge. It looks very smart and everything works as it should.
ON THE ROAD
420i: 135kW/270Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl
420d:140kW/400Nm 2.0 diesel 4cyl
430i: 185kW/350Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl
440i: 240kW/450Nm 3.0 petrol 6cyl
- Transmission: RWD, eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters (standard) or six-speed manual (no-cost option)
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
- Brakes: Disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted, variable-ratio rack in 440i variants
The chassis bits (that is, the suspension, brakes, steering and platform) of the 4 Series range carries over mostly unchanged, though Adaptive M Suspension, which brings electronically adjustable dampers, is now standard on all models.
With the ability to switch between Sport and Comfort modes, ride comfort is now improved without compromising the 4 Series' sporty dynamics
But the engine compartment is where the biggest changes occur, and it's where you'll find a brand new family of petrol engines.
The old N-series petrol engines are gone, with the new B-series family of modular fours and sixes taking their place. The diesel-burning 420d is the only model to feature a carry-over engine.
In the 420i you probably won’t notice much difference in the way it drives. Power and torque are identical to the outgoing model (135kW/270Nm), and fuel consumption for the Coupe is fractionally better at 5.8 l/100km versus the old 420i’s 6.1 l/100km.
It drives much like before. With a 7.5 second 0-100km/h time for the 420i coupe it’s neither fast nor slow, though you start to feel its relative lack of oomph should you call on it to accelerate hard up a hill.
The 430i gets a more tangible effect on driveability thanks to a 5kW bump in power to 185kW (torque stays static at 350Nm), with 0-100km/h times dropping by 0.1 seconds in the convertible and Gran Coupe for a brisker 6.3s and 5.9s respectively. The Coupe maintains its 5.8s sprint time.
It’s a willing motor, and considering the mid-grade petrol engine is the one most 4 Series customers go for, it really does sit in the sweet spot.
Most won’t find the 430i’s powertrain to be lacking - it's certainly no slacker - and more still will appreciate its slight fuel consumption advantage over the outgoing 428i.
But it’s the 440i that’s the biggest winner here. The 440i Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe enjoy a 15kW/50Nm hike in power and torque, which chops 0.1 seconds off its 0-100km sprint time for a swift 5.1 seconds for the Coupe and Gran Coupe, and 5.4 seconds for the Convertible.
That may sound like a marginal increase, but its in rolling acceleration where the true benefit lies. With 240kW and 450Nm to play with the 440i has excellent in-gear shove, and it’s all taken to the rear wheels via a superb eight-speed automatic - manual-lovers will be pleased to know a six-speed manual is also available at no extra cost.
The only six-cylinder model in the 4 Series range bar the high-hitting M4, the 440i possesses a beautiful soundtrack as well.
A variable-ratio steering rack is standard on the 440i and imparts a more agile feel to the way it steers, making the 440i the one to get for drivers who favour the long way home.
ANCAP rating: The BMW 4 Series range has yet to be assessed by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, lane change warning, AEB, ABS, EBD, brake assist, rear-view camera, six airbags in coupe and Gran Coupe, four airbags for Convertible
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There is no facelift here - that’s coming next year - but the powertrain update and generous discounting and spec upgrades really sharpen the deal for the 4 Series range.
The specification on offer is exceptional for the segment, and the price drops across the range make it even more competitive against its younger rival, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe.
It is difficult to fault the dynamics of any of the new 4 Series range, BMW, after all, builds superb driving cars. But the rapid 440i - fast, comfortable, and with a glorious sound when put to the task - is the 'full bottle'. It will have some wondering if an 'M' badge is really necessary.
And the fact that it consumes a little less fuel is a nice cherry on top.