Ask anyone about the new BMW 4 series, and their first comment may well be along the lines of, "Ah, the kidney grille car!"
Admittedly this piece of bold (some might say iconic, others may say underwhelming) styling has attracted plenty of attention, but that's not the only reason why the 4-series is in the spotlight.
Out-performing many others in its class, this sporty, high-end motoring option delivers a stunning driving experience, as well as a comfortable ride with plenty of hi-tech details.
From some significant design changes through to fresh styling and some innovative tech, the 4-series is considerably different from its 3-series predecessor. With premium, high-spec vehicles an increasingly popular choice in Australia, the 4-series could be an excellent choice where quality and performance are essentials.
Let's get the grille out of the way! The twin, kidney-shaped grilles (a more subtle, blacked-out option is available for owners who find the eye-catching brushed aluminium a little too much) form the signature feature of a front end that's a radical departure from the 3-series.
Much sportier and more aggressive than the usual BMW offering, the front end sends out the message that this is a car with attitude. And, to be fair, the 4-series does "walk the walk": a lower centre of gravity results in exceptional handling; wider, longer, and lower than the 3-series, a solid back end adds to the impression of a car that's all about serious road performance.
In addition to impressive speed and power (the 440i's 6-cylinder, twin power turbo petrol engine delivers 0-100 kph in a very respectable 4.5 seconds, for example), the 4-series also benefits from an improved suspension, revisited drive train, LED headlights, and the option to add on comfort, driver assistance and sports packages.
Interior and Exterior Design
The 4-series comes in three designs: the coupe; the convertible; and the 4-door Grand coupe (which will be released after the coupe and the convertible). Each has the revamped front end that epitomises this generation of BMW.
As mentioned earlier, the longer, lower profile, coupled with subtle shape changes create a car that's significantly sportier and has more presence than previous models.
The interior is, as you would expect from a BMW, high-quality and brimming with tech! BMW upped its interior game with the 3-series, and the 4-series has continued the tradition of more overt opulence.
The result is a stylish interior that features quality materials and a high-end look, but where the focus is on the driver, rather than passengers. Intended for drivers who like to drive, everything from the seating position to the controls and features are designed to give drivers a stunning experience behind the wheel.
In keeping with the 4-series' edgier style, the engine delivers serious performance. The sporty 440i benefits from a 3l, six-cylinder, twin power turbo engine that provides 387hp, 0-100 kph in 4.5 seconds, and 500 N/m torque. This makes it seriously fast!
Even the entry-level 420i's 2l, 4-cylinder is capable of delivering a more-than-adequate 184hp and 0-100kph in 7.5 seconds. The 430i delivers somewhere between the two, offering 258hp and 0-100 kph in 5.8 seconds.
Feedback on drive performance has been overwhelmingly positive. Capable of constant, rapid acceleration at any point in the range, when it comes to overtaking, the BMW 4-series has got what it takes.
A revisited suspension, advanced braking, and the option of x-drive (a BMW variant of 4WD), ensures versatile handling and superior performance on the bends. Comparing favourably with competitors, it's hard to fault anything about the 4-series driving experience.
An added benefit to the range is a distinctly miserly fuel consumption: the 440i uses 7.8i/100km, whilst the 420 has been shown to use around 6.4/100km.
Tech is something that BMW does well, so it's little surprise that the 4-series goes above and beyond when it comes to connectivity, autonomy, and cutting-edge installations. The Live Cockpit feature uses a 22cm display for infotainment, with controls clustered around a smaller, full-colour screen.
Drivers can also upgrade to a larger screen if required. Operated using an iDrive rotary joystick, the system can be integrated with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
A DAB radio and integral sat-nav are further useful features that form part of the 4-series' tech offering. For drivers who are serious about their tech, BMW offer the option of an upgrade package.
This contains a number of additional features that add quality and variety: wireless phone charging, and a Harman Kardon sound system, for example, are two extras that are available. For something truly innovative (and which has a strangely quirky appeal, despite the price) the add-on tech package includes a function that lets you control infotainment proceedings using finger gestures! What's not to like?
BMW has an excellent reputation for car safety, which we expect to be carried on in the 4-series. ANCAP safety testing on the new 4-series hasn't been completed yet, so it's too early to give a definitive rating.
That said, traditionally, BMW performs well, and with the 3-series gaining a 5-star rating, there's no reason to think that the 4-series won't follow suit.
Key safety features that come as standard include lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking. For drivers that prefer to take a pro-active approach to safety, BMW provides the option to purchase a Driving Assistant Professional pack as an add-on.
This includes features such as front collision control; active cruise control; speed limit assist; and a lane control function. The parking assistant plus minimises the risk of bumps and scrapes, whilst a tyre pressure monitoring system ensures optimal pressure at all times.
Broadly speaking, pricing is in line with other luxury models with similar specs. The number of packages and range of engine choices mean that there is considerable variation in price: drivers can literally customise their 4-series to suit their budget.
The entry-level 420i, for example, starts off at about $74,400, whilst the 440i kicks off at around $122,150. This is before you begin to take into consideration the added extras, however. Adding the M-sport plus package (which includes enhanced rear seat belts and a rear spoiler) will set you back around $1,730.
The enhanced visibility package costs nearly $5,000. Whilst these add-ons allow customisation and enhance the driver experience, they demonstrate that the 4-series will never be a cheap investment. That said, the luxury and performance it delivers means a hefty price tag is likely to be inevitable.
Pros and Cons
- Sportier, more eye-catching exterior styling.
- Lower centre of gravity for better handling.
- Excellent performance in terms of speed, power, and handling.
- Exceptional driver experience, including a good range of tech.
- Extremely safe.
- Reasonably economical when it comes to fuel consumption.
- Drivers tend to either love or hate the new look of the 4-series. The grille can be a "make or break".
- As you would expect from a coupe, rear passengers travel in adequate comfort, but with limited space, it's not the best experience.
- Once you get beyond the styling, it's debatable whether the improvements BMW have made in the 4-series justify the price hike in comparison to the 3-series.
- Some of the add-on packages are, frankly, over-priced and unnecessary.
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