ON THE ONE HAND YOU HAVE THE RIPPING BMW M4, ON THE OTHER THE BMW 420i; AND IN THE MIDDLE IS THE 430i. And, on balance - for price, features and performance - this turbo-charged four-cylinder coupe may just be the pick of BMW’s 4 Series team.
As you no doubt know, the 4 Series is the coupe version of the top-selling BMW 3 Series range.
Not that the 3 Series is unattractive, but it’s fair to say that the sedan is overshadowed by its elegant and sporty-looking coupe stablemate (another top-notch job by BMW’s stylists).
Vehicle Style: Prestige Mid-Size Coupe
Price: $79,855 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.8l/100kms | Tested: 7.2l/100kms
At $79,855, the BMW 430i replaces the previous 428i in the range but requires some $2500 less from your ATM.
That value is ramped-up when you consider the BMW 430i includes as standard the M Sport package which adds beautiful 19-inch alloy wheels, the gorgeous thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Dakota leather seats, black and aluminium trim highlights and a high-gloss black front grille.
On top of that, you can add other handy extras such as BMW Driving Assistant, Lane-Change Warning, Head-Up Display and the surround view camera system.
- Standard Features: ‘BMW Individual’ instrument panel in Dakota leather, M Sport steering wheel, sports front seats, Dakota leather seats (electric adjustment for the fronts including lumbar support) dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning 60:40 split-fold rear seat
- Infotainment: Nine speaker audio with 8-inch colour screen, AM/FM/CD/DAB+, Bluetooth compatibility, AUX-IN and USB connection, Navigation System Professional
- Cargo Volume: 445 litres
The 430i is yet another example of why BMW ranks in the top three or four automotive brands for interior design (our opinion). In many ways the basic layout hasn’t changed for decades, but constant refinement, new technology and – of course – top-shelf materials make BMWs special.
Naturally, the 430i’s case is aided by standard fitment of the M Sport Package and the leather-trimmed dashboard.
While not the full-on M specification 'race' buckets, the front sports seats are supportive and enjoy excellent extendable under-thigh support (electronic adjustment).
It's a great operating environment for the driver and we still think BMW’s iDrive set-up is one of the best. (We even managed to find the up/down adjustment for the Head-Up Display which was added as part of the running changes.)
Those in the rear aren’t treated like second-raters and there is reasonable legroom (for the TMR teenagers, at least), but adults will need to count on co-operation from front-seat occupants to find adequate comfort (rivals are the same).
Luggage space isn’t lacking but when Saturday rolled around we did need to action the 60:40 split-fold rear seat to house our clubs.
As always with BMW, wherever you look and whatever you touch in the 430i, the quality is obvious. It is a very satisfying and classy interior.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 185kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
- Steering: Electrically-assisted
The 430i Coupe has proper BMW rear-drive dynamics, and, right there, is a statement sure to raise the pulse of keen drivers.
For sure, settle at the wheel under that raked roofline, into the snug-fitting seats - sports dials, a long bonnet, polished stubby shifter at the left hand - and the 4 Series feels like a 'driver's machine'.
The vision wavers a little when you hit the starter button and the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine settles to idle. Its soundtrack isn’t among the BMW ‘classics’, but with 185kW and 350Nm to call on, a close-ratio eight-speed transmission and zero to 100km/h sprint in 5.8 seconds…well, it's hardly lacking.
On road it certainly feels eager. And when you stretch its lungs into the upper end of the rev-range, then it comes to life and wails with a race-car chorus.
Around town, the 430i can be happily noodled around without snatching or baulking - it's a sophisticated urban cruiser - and mid-range performance for freeway overtaking is strong.
Parking too is a breeze thanks to surprisingly good all-round vision (those smallish rear side-windows actually don’t inhibit the view all that much) and BMW’s excellent top-view camera system.
But get it onto the twisty stuff, dial-up the Sport+ drive mode, and the 430i’s standard Adaptive M suspension (which sits 10mm lower than the standard suspension) becomes your friend.
This thing responds as all BMWs should when pushed to perform; it firms below, the steering becomes a smidge heavier and the beautifully balanced chassis responds with a distinct and satisfying rear bias feel.
Over our mountain roads loop we really enjoyed the BMW 430i. It's not as intense of course as the M4, but there is a real sense of athleticism and poise in its delightfully crisp turn-in, the settled mid-turn feel and balanced punch on the way out.
"Cohesive" is the word which springs to mind - it is this blending of engine and chassis that makes the BMW 430i Coupe tick, and makes it such an enjoyable drive.
So after a week in the TMR garage, our only real grumble with the 430i is the tyre noise - it's there all the time but particularly noticeable when you stray onto crook road surfaces.
ANCAP Rating: The BMW 4 Series range has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Eight airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, cruise control, speed limiter, head-up display, BMW Driving Assistant, Land Change Warning System,
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: BMW Service Inclusive allows you to pre-pay for the first five years or 80,000kms (whichever comes first) of servicing at the time of vehicle purchase, with a basic package starting from $1340 for the 4 Series including annual vehicle checks, oil changes, all filters, spark plugs and labour, check with your BMW dealer for full terms and conditions.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
From Mercedes-Benz, the all-new C300 Coupe steps-up as a formidable rival for our BMW 430i. Similarly equipped under the bonnet with a punchy 180kW/370Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre engine (although ‘only’ a seven-speed automatic transmission), the Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe requires a $83,400 (plus on-roads) hit on your bank balance.
Ride/handling are top-notch and the interior is Merc’s usual sporty opulence. As always with ‘Benz Vs BMW, you need to carefully cross-reference standard and optional inclusions.
While there is an all-new Audi A5 Coupe due later this year, from the current crop, the 2.0TFSI Quattro at $77,300 (plus) is a good buy. Audi’s 2.0-litre turbo (driving all four wheels of course via a seven-speed automatic transmission) punches out a competitive 165kW/350Nm.
And don't forget the Lexus RC. At $65,090 (plus) it's well-priced, pumps out 180kW and 350Nm, but can't quite match the chassis balance and sporting feel of the BMW.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 4.5/5
It's like a vanilla choc-chip ice cream this car; you don't need to ask to know that everyone's going to love it, and will want some. Try as you might to fault it, you simply won't find anything significant to moan about.
At $80k-plus, the 430i is getting 'up there', but it's the sort of car that any keen driver would love in the garage. The 2.0 litre turbo is sheer delight, so too the satisfying laser-like handling and that thoroughbred sense of connectedness to the road.
The fact that it looks so stylish and elegant - there is a rare sense of balance and proportion to its lines - and, relatively speaking, presents such of value-for-money, makes it something of a bargain buy.
Cars like this manage to blend coupe-sportiness with a degree of practicality. You can drive the wheels off it on the weekend, and ferry the kids (in the useable - if tightish - rear seat) to school mid-week. (Surely an alluring proposition even for those with a family in tow.)
We have no doubt, the 4 Series is certainly one of the better modern iterations of 'the personal coupe'. And this one, the 430i, 'the middle child', is a little special and perhaps the pick of the brood.