- 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.
It does make good on many counts, and one of them is ride comfort. There's also a relatively hushed cockpit. The 4-Series gets seriously charming with its more ritzy interior trim packages (although perhaps too splashy in others that attempt to be sporty or modern), and its sports seats give grip just where it's called for in sporty driving. But the backseat is somewhere we'd stay out of.
Crash-test ratings are still an open question, although standard safety equipment includes a full suite of airbags, stability and traction control, adaptive brake lights, and anti-lock brakes, plus optional add-ons like the Driver Assistance Plus package, with its speed-limit info, side- and top-view cameras, and electronic driver aids; a rearview camera and park distance sensors; and automatic high beam headlights.
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.
And don't forget about the 4-Series Convertible. With a folding hardtop that can lower or raise itself in 20 seconds, at speeds of up to 11 mph. BMW says it's fitted the folded top more effectively into the trunk this time, retaining up to 7.8 cubic feet of storage space when the top is down (or 13 cubic feet when it's up). A fold-down rear seat extends the usefulness of the trunk--and on the less practical side, BMW also fits a standard windblock, three-setting neck warmers, and more sound-deadening materials for a longer driving season and for a quieter ride than in the former 3-Series Convertible.
Also on the way later in the year is the 4-Series Gran Coupe, a model that essentially packs in the low-set four-door layout of the 3-Series, but with the more aggressive front-end treatment of the 4-Series plus a fastback/hatchback rear-end design.
For 2015, Bluetooth audio streaming is now standard, and the so-called Enhanced Bluetooth (with a USB port) is now a standalone $500 option, Fineline Anthracite wood trim is now widely available, 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.