BMW sells the 4-Series in a staggering number of ways: convertible or a coupe, with all- or rear-wheel drive, a 6- or 4-cylinder engine, an 8- or 6-speed transmission. Prices range from about $42,000 to more than $60,000.
Every 4-Series BMW has power features, Bluetooth, climate control, and an audio system with satellite-ready radio. Luxury-themed cars get better cockpit leather, chrome trim, a choice of three interior wood trims, and unique color combinations. The Sport line replaces the chrome with high-gloss black exterior cues, red-stitched leather in the interior, and red highlights in the instrument cluster, among other upgrades. The M Sport line gets a unique M aerodynamic kit, an optional exclusive Estoril blue exterior color, Shadowline exterior accents, an anthracite headliner, sport seats, and M-themed interior details.
The 4-Series Convertible's folding hardtop 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.
Other major options on the 4-Series include a color head-up display; active cruise control; a collision warning system; and a sport suspension and sport brakes with blue calipers, the latter as upgrades to the M Sport package.
The optional navigation system is governed by the latest version of BMW's iDrive, the roller-controller system that's now flanked by a host of buttons, augmented by voice controls, and layered with a touch-sensitive surface on the controller that lets drivers write out text such as addresses with a fingertip. It comes with real-time traffic data, and can be teamed with a data subscription that adds Google search capability. It's a system that's grown many override layers to the original, austere version that relied only on the knob--and lots of spinning and clicking--but it's still a maze of functionality that takes a few weeks to truly understand and customize.