- Sporty, hunkered-down stance
- Wide range of trims and appearances
- Widely available manual gearbox
- All-wheel drive, even on a convertible
- Front-end look is over-the-top
- No manual transmission with AWD
- There's a four-door 4-Series (Gran Coupe)
The 2015 BMW 4-Series Coupe and Convertible build on the bones of the 3-Series sport sedan, with comparable performance but a little more flesh and flair.
The 2015 BMW 4-Series isn't just a 3-Series-based family of two-door models. It occupies the same space in the market as the BMW 3-Series Coupe used to, and starts with the 3-Series' underpinnings, engines, and equipment. But the 4-Series is longer, lower, and wider than its sedan counterparts.
The shape of the 4-Series is a little more low-set, aggressive, and alluring than the 3-Series Coupes that preceded, and it has more visual 'weight' than the current 3-Series sedans on which it's based. It has the same proportions of the long-ago 8-Series, as well as some of the styling cues of former generations of 3-Series coupes. The cabin's more adventurous, with some sweeping arcs and trim packages that lift its basic-black wardrobe into something a little more couture.
It's entirely fair to say that performance for the 4-Series is about on par with what you'll find in the 2015 3-Series -- albeit without the diesel, hybrid, or lower-power 320i versions. The 4-Series fires up sweetly engineered in-line engines, shifts with ease, bear-hugs the road--and plots a clear trajectory into M territory with performance suspension and braking upgrades. The 428i uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to generate 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque; the hood of 435i models get the familiar 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available with either engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard (available only on rear-drive models), while an eight-speed automatic is available.
Yes, there's also the M4, and its hugely upgraded power ratings (now 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft). With a TwinPower turbo six, a choice between six-speed manual and seven-speed M Double Clutch gearboxes, an Active M limited-slip differential, and an available Adaptive M suspension, the all-new 2015 BMW M4 takes after the larger M6 in ride and sophistication, yet it keeps its weight down, to enable a supercar-league 0-60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds (in DCT form).
And if you don't go full-on M4, the manual-shifted, rear-drive 428i is as nimble as the 4-Series gets, with 0-60 times of 5.7 seconds and some frisky moves. If you're angling for something more, you'll have to start with the 435i, which is a half-second quicker to 60, with more grip and an available package that goes headlong into M Sport territory with adaptive dampers, lower ride height, and sport brakes. Steering remains a dull spot no matter what, though.
Ride comfort and a quiet cockpit are two areas where the 4-Series makes good on its grand-touring hypothesis. It adds layers of charm as BMW adds interior trim options; standard-issue trim is pretty dark and drab. The sport-seat option is a no-brainer. The back seat? It's something to avoid, if you're of any above-average dimensions.
The 4-Series hasn't been crash-tested, but each one has the usual safety gear. BMW offers rearview and surround-view cameras as options, along with parking sensors and adaptive cruise control.
Equipment and features are grouped into those "lines," trim packages with specific themes. M Sport, Sport, and Luxury are the three divisions, available on any 4-Series model. As the name implies, the Luxury package adds upgraded leather in the cabin, a choice of three interior wood trims, unique color combinations, and exterior high-gloss chrome accents. As for infotainment, the 4-Series' iDrive system is more powerful than ever, but some of the power comes from new interface layers, like voice commands and touchpad input. It's still something to grow accustomed to over a period of time--one best measured with a calendar.
The convertible 4-Series has a folding hardtop which can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds, even if the car is moving at up to 11 mph. The top stows more neatly, which preserves 7.8 cubic feet of luggage space when it's tucked away, or 13 cubic feet when it's raised. The rear seat folds down to extend the trunk space, and BMW fits the convertible with a windblocker, neck warmers, and extra sound insulation to extend the top-down driving season.
Also on the way later in the year is the 4-Series Gran Coupe. It's a four-door with a fastback profile of the 4-Series.
For 2015, Bluetooth audio streaming is standard. Anthracite wood trim is an option, and Oyster Dakota leather is offered outside of the Sport line and included in Premium Package models.There are a number of other packaging changes for technology options.