BMW’s newest weapon hits the road
It looks just as bold in the metal. Deliberately designed to polarise opinions, the new BMW 4 Series and its enormous grille are a popular talking point in the automotive community.
BMW has defended the look since it unveiled the coupe, making no apologies for a decision to play it safe with the conservatively penned 3 Series sedan and push the boundaries with the braver two-door.
The new machine is available in three trims starting with the 420i priced from $70,900 plus on-road costs, or about $76,000 drive-away - $1000 more than its sedan cousin. It has the same 135kW/300Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo motor as the four-door, and a largely similar cabin including a head-up display, digital dashboard and 10.25-inch central touchscreen linked to wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, inductive charging and a 10-speaker stereo.
BMW rightly reckons coupe buyers are looking for a more dynamic experience than conventional customers, so the 4 Series also gets 19-inch alloys, sports suspension, deep-bolstered seats, a bodykit inspired by the high-performance M4 and a thick-rimmed steering wheel with shift paddles.
It comes with a basic array of driver aids including auto emergency braking, but not adaptive cruise control or traffic jam assistance. Likewise, the seats are trimmed in imitation leather, with genuine stuff reserved for more expensive models. That's also the case for adaptive suspension, or heated seats and a powered tailgate (paired in a $2860 comfort pack). Metallic paint costs $2000 on its own, or $6300 as part of a "visibility pack" including laser headlights, ambient lighting and a sunroof fitted to our test car.
Servicing for five years is reasonably priced at $1650, but BMW's three-year warranty lags behind the five-year guarantees of Mercedes or Volvo.
We'd also relegate BMW's connectivity offering to third place among Europe contemporaries.
It's impressive on paper but not always intuitive. We also had a lot of trouble with BMW's wireless connectivity dropping out.
But the BMW rights a lot of wrongs on the road.
As with its 3 Series cousin, the coupe is a dynamic standout in its class. A relatively light body brings impressive agility helped by a lower, wider body than the four-door. Taut and composed, the 4 Series delivers the sporty driving experience promised by its styling. It's a balanced machine that feels sharper than most cars in this class.
The standard engine and eight-speed automatic transmission are adequate if not outstanding, but BMW can sort that out if your pockets are deep enough. As is often the case in the world of luxury cars, it's a case of asking yourself how fast you can afford to go.
Divisive looks and mean standard equipment are soon forgotten when you hit the road in the 4 Series, which is proof BMW still knows how to build drivers' cars.
BMW 420i COUPE VITALS
Price: About $76,000 drive-away
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 135kW/300Nm
Warranty/servicing: 3-year/unlimited km, $1650 for 5 years
Safety: Not yet rated, 6 airbags, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning
Space: 440 litres
Spare: Inflator kit
Customers who want more wallop have plenty of options in the 4 Series range. If the standard car's 135kW/300Nm engine and 7.5 second dash to 100km/h are uninspiring, consider the 430i's 190kW/400Nm engine and 5.8 second sprint for $88,900 plus on-road costs. Cashed-up customers can drop $116,900 plus on-roads on the six-cylinder, all-wheel-drive M440i xDrive which uses 285kW/500Nm to reach the highway speed limit in 4.5 seconds. Enthusiasts may hold out for the range-topping 375kW/650Nm BMW M4 Competition priced from $159,900 plus on-roads early next year.
Originally published as BMW's newest weapon hits the road