2014 BMW 4 SERIES REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Luxury coupe
Price: $80,500 (plus on-roads) | $87,760 (as-tested)
Engine/trans: 180kW/350Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.4 l/100km | tested: 9.8 l/100km
"There's no substitute for cubic inches..." Well, yes there is. Ask BMW.
The German automaker has spent the past few years downsizing its engines as it chases increasingly tougher fuel efficiency and emissions targets.
Take the new 428i. Though the first digit is now a four, it’s essentially the replacement for the old E92 325i coupe - but now with a 2.0 litre turbo four-pot instead of the latter’s 2.5 litre atmo straight six.
But while the 2.0 litre might be smaller, it also goes harder. So, does a smaller, edgier turbo work for a luxury coupe with an $90k-plus price tag?
Quality: BMW interiors have really stepped up a notch, always classy, our tester’s Sport Line trim didn’t disappoint.
The presentation is neat and crisp, and the dash echoes the 3 Series in terms of control layout and design.
It’s hard to find flaws with fit and finish and there’s a reassuring solidity to most things. We think however some plastics don’t quite have the premium feel we expect of a BMW.
Comfort: We can only vouch for the more heavily bolstered seats that come with the Sport Line package, but we found them very comfortable.
The squabs are adjustable for length which is appreciated on longer stints at the wheel.
The back seat is surprisingly roomy, with a scooped-out roof lining and low-set seats allowing rear passengers to adopt a natural seating position without feeling hemmed-in.
The front seats glide forward electrically to make getting in and out easier (though they move a bit slowly), and there are also rear air-outlets, armrests and cup holders for those in the back.
Equipment: The standard equipment list has all the luxuries you’d expect and includes things like BMW’s high-end navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio integration bi-xenon headlamps and reverse parking sensors/camera.
Other standard creature comforts include dual-zone climate control, electric front seats, and an internet browser that uses your mobile phone’s data connection.
Our test car had a few option boxes ticked, and came equipped with a panoramic glass sunroof ($2920), keyless entry ($1100) and alane departure warning and pedestrian detection system ($900).
Storage: Boot space is improved over the old 3 Series Coupe, with the 4 Series offering a 445 litre luggage space.
The 60/40 split-fold seats are standard (ours got the optional 40/20/40 seats - $500); folded flat, the 428i can carry quite a load.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: While some may see a smaller engine than before, the 428i’s 2.0 litre four-cylinder is in fact a more impressive unit than the 2.5 six it replaces.
Thanks to direct injection and turbocharging, it's endowed with 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque. That compares more than favourably with the old 2.5’s 160kW and 250Nm.
And not only is there more power and torque, but the spread of torque is fatter. With 350Nm between 1250rpm and 4800rpm, the 428i’s motor is more muscular over a broader rev range than the old 325i.
Hooked up to the silky-smooth eight-speed automatic as standard (a six-speed manual is a no-cost option), driveability is superb, and you’ll need just 5.8 seconds to get to 100km/h.
Turbo lag is minimal for a 2.0 litre; the 428i responds swiftly to demands for thrust. It can feel a bit doughy in Comfort mode, but in Sport or Sport+ it’s razor sharp.
Do we yearn for the six? Not when it comes to the sizzle on the tarmac - the four-pot turbo does that job far better. However, about that sound...
Refinement: While it’s not unpleasant, the 428i’s engine note is just… hmm, boring. It lacks the beautiful harmonics of the old naturally-aspirated six, but that’s pretty much the only thing we lament.
Because it rolls on 19-inch run-flats, there’s a little more tyre rumble on coarse surfaces than is ideal, but otherwise the 4 Series has a fairly quiet cabin.
Ride and Handling: The 428i gets BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension as standard, and that brings a 10mm lower ride height compared to the 420i and 420d, as well as adjustable dampers.
In Normal mode, the 428i rides nicely. Even on the big 19-inch wheels it’s a comfortable tourer; poor-quality roads won’t shake your fillings loose.
Dial it up to Sport and there’s a slightly firmer edge to the damping. It helps tame body movements when cornering quickly left-to-right. Despite lacking the steering feel of BMWs of old, the 428i feels wonderfully agile - yet still reasonably compliant.
Braking: There’s good feel and response through the standard brakes, though with simple sliding calipers front and rear they’re not exactly the sportiest brake package BMW offers.
That said, they’re more than enough for the job and pull the 1470kg 428i up smartly.
ANCAP rating: The BMW 4 Series has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Standard safety features include switchable traction and stability control, ABS, EBD, brake assist and cornering brake control.
Six airbags are standard: dual front, dual side and curtain airbags for both front and rear.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service costs: Servicing costs can vary due to BMW’s condition-based servicing system, however BMW offers set servicing schemes for new cars that limit the amount owners will need to spend on maintenance.
Contact your local BMW dealer for pricing.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Audi A5 2.0 TFSI quattro ($75,700) - Still a sharp looker both inside and out, Audi’s A5 has aged quite well. With 165kW/350Nm from a 2.0 litre turbo four, its outputs aren’t shabby either.
In terms of driving dynamics it’s left behind by the BMW, but has a traction advantage in its quattro AWD system. It’s also more affordable, being priced at $75,700 in seven-speed automatic form. (see A5 reviews)
Mercedes-Benz C 250 Coupe ($70,400) - The most affordable of this bunch, but also the least powerful with just 150kW and 310Nm from its 1.8 litre turbo four.
However, the C 250 rides well, handles well and looks great, while being just marginally smaller inside than the 428i. (see C-Class reviews)
Infiniti G37 S Premium ($70,400) - People often forget about Infiniti, but if you’re after a bit more oomph for your money then the G37 Coupe delivers.
Essentially a 370Z in a dinner suit (and sporting two extra seats in the back), the 235kW/360Nm G37 has the most dated interior of the bunch, but benefits from a sporty chassis and a much brawnier engine for the money. (see Infiniti G reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Okay, so we miss the sublime sonics of BMW’s dearly-departed naturally aspirated inline sixes, but that’s where the mourning ends.
In four-cylinder form the 428i is many times better than the car it replaces. While it's lost a little bit of edge in the steering, the 428i is a beautifully balanced coupe and a very satisfying sporting drive.
And, anyway, if you’re really pining for a swift six-cylinder BMW coupe, there’s always the 435i...
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- BMW 420i Coupe - $69,500
- BMW 420d Coupe - $71,800
- BMW 428i Coupe - $80,500
- BMW435i Coupe - $108,500