- Low, sporty stance
- Variety of looks through trim lines
- Both manual and automatic transmissions offered
- Available all-wheel drive
- Front-end styling is very aggressive
- No manual transmission with AWD
- The inevitable 4-Series Gran Coupe -- a four-door 4-Series
The 2014 BMW 4-Series stays resolutely in the same orbit as the last 3er two-door: everything's just a little better than it was, except its steering and its styling.
What is the BMW 4-Series ? It's what used to be known as the 3-Series Coupe, except it's completely new and rather different than the latest 3-Series lineup. The 4-Series uses the same engines, and most of the same equipment, as the 3-Series sedan, but it's longer, wider, and lower, as well as having two fewer doors.
The silhouette is no big riddle. We'd venture BMW has a lot to gain by making this two-door the last to rely too heavily on the BMW grille and the Hofmeister kink to carry the day. It was perfected on the old 8-Series coupe, and this is a near-copy--if the 4-Series weren't a half-foot longer, it would overlay the 8er neatly. The cabin has some adventuresome lines and trim that can lift the 4-Series out of its basic-black doldrums.
Performance is about what BMW offers in the current 3-Series. BMW excels at engineering sweetly tuned in-line engines, transmissions that shift with ease, suspensions and tires that bear-hug the road. The 4-Series outlines a quick and easy path to M-world, too, with a rasher of performance and braking upgrades.
The base 428i coupe makes 240 hp from a 2.0-liter turbo-4, and 255 lb-ft of torque. The 435i powers up 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque from a 3.0-liter turbo-6. On both, a 6-speed manual comes standard. An 8-speed automatic is an option, and it's required on all-wheel-drive cars. Manual 428i coupes can hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, but the 435i drops it in about 5.2 seconds, approaching M territory not just with speed but with M Sport adaptive dampers, sport brakes, and a lower ride height. On either model, steering feel is the dull spot on the 4-Series' glossy polish, but the ride is remarkably absorbent, probably linked to the 4er's chunky curb weight.
There's ample room in front, but the back seat is no place for anyone you'd call a friend. Charm oozes from the pricey trim packages BMW makes available, and the sport-seat bundle is well worth the upsell. It's also possessed of a quiet interior.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have crash-tested the 4-Series. BMW tosses in options like a rearview camera, surround-view cameras, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.
BMW groups options in trim bundles. Luxury cars get nicer leather, three wood trim choices, unique color combinations, chrome swipes on the body. Sport cars make that chrome black, and wear red leather with red highlights inside. M Sport cars have their own aero bodywork, sport seats, and M-style interior details.
BMW's iDrive system runs the infotainment system, with a new layer of touchpad input. Block off a few hours a day for the first week you drive with it; a Kaplan course wouldn't be too extreme.
A 4-Series Convertible has been made official, coming to showrooms soon. Its folding hardtop retracts in 20 seconds. For that inevitable M4? You'll have to wait a little longer for confirmation.