Is the BMW 4 Series as good as we remember? Deputy editor James takes the 435i M-Sport out for a thrash to find out if the admiration he felt for the coupe last year was misplaced.
|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|Inline-6cyl, TwinPower Turbo, 2979cc||306hp @ 5800-6000rpm||295lb ft @ 1200-5000rpm||5.1 secs||250kph (limited)||1590kg (192hp/ton)||$69,400|
The holiday romance. It’s a situation we’ve all experienced. You’ve met someone abroad. Someone fun. Someone clever, adventurous, gorgeous. Romance starts to blossom and the time you spend together stays with you for weeks, perhaps months afterwards. Of course you get back home and those same feelings take a dive. Was what you felt even real?
Last year I admit I got a little carried away on a sojourn to Portugal, during which I put the brand new BMW 4 Series Coupe through its paces. It was new, exciting and glorious to drive, and I felt sure that someday I would own one. Now of course the European climes are behind me, daily working life has resumed, and Middle East traffic has once again set my teeth on edge. Now the BMW 4 Series Coupe is on home turf in the Middle East, and I’m about to take it for a spin. Will the romance remain strong, or will it crash and burn?
Fortunately we’re off to a good start with the looks, which are just as striking on the 4 Series as they were in Portugal. There’s a wonderful mix of aggression and elegance at the front end courtesy of those angry headlights, sleek kidney grilles and prominent sweep in the bonnet. Our Mineral Grey test model though also boasts the M-Sport package, meaning a re-designed front bumper with larger intakes, widened wheel arches and 19-inch lightweight wheels, all of which introduce a whole new dynamism. Fortunately the boys and girls at the Bavarian design easel haven’t gone overboard with the M badges, a couple on the M-spec alloys and front fenders fitting the bill nicely. Couple this with strong bodylines across the flanks and an elegant sloping roof, and you have what could arguably be one of the best looking coupes on the market today.
Inside we have BMW’s customary quality upholstery and leather sports seats in a sharp Dakota Coral Red (fully adjustable electronically, natch). M Sports Package options on our test model include the M-spec steering wheel, an anthracite roofline and Aluminium trim, striking as you would imagine. There’s also bags of legroom. Even in the back, with the sloping roof to contend with, the six-footers amongst us can still recline with ease. Comfort and practicality then are no issue, even if my gripe about the slightly button-heavy centre console remains.
Now though, the main event: does the 4 Series Coupe drive as well as I remember? Is the ‘romance’ still there?
New M-Sport (read ‘stiffer’) suspension is the only fundamental change, our 435i test model boasting the same 3.0-litre TwinPower turbo six-cylinder as our Portuguese test model. With that comes an impressive 306hp, 295lb ft of torque, the now routine 250kph electronically limited top speed, and 0-100kph in just 5.1 seconds. In short, the 4 Series can shift.
There were concerns that the TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder would produce lag in the lower revs, fears that fortunately prove fruitless. Engine pull is beautifully strong, the pick-up gaining a tad more aggression as we hit the 6000rpm sweet spot. The 306hp at full chat won’t contort your face but the sensation of speed is difficult to ignore and will widen the smile on your face without fail. Shifts through the eight-speed transmission prove similarly swift and crisp, as well as addictive: flick the paddle shifter as you hit the high revs and there’s a short, sharp burble from the overrun that quickly becomes addictive. Throw full caution to the wind and the gearbox can on occasion stop you selecting the gears you want (BMW’s box selecting a ‘safe rpm’ level before downshifting) but it’s of only fleeting concern on the Middle East’s sweeping turns.
Engine pick-up then is strong, and a superb baritone soundtrack can still be heard through the cabin’s awesome acoustics. But acceleration that pulls at the heartstrings is just one ace in the M-Sport’s hole. There’s superb handling as well. Feed the power in whilst in Sport mode – one of four options alongside Comfort and EcoPro – and you’ll find good weighty steering offers not only good feel for the road but a stronger inclination to really hang the 4 Series out on the bends. Constant grip through the tyres means that the nose stays planted through the apex, a low centre of gravity and superb balance allowing – indeed, encouraging you – to push the coupe on the exit harder and further than you might have thought possible (there’s that M-Sport suspension giving you your money’s worth) without sacrificing ride comfort. Even the rear wheels stay rooted to the ground, though that can change with the flick of a button…
The BMW 4 Series Coupe is proving immensely enjoyable. It’s lairy and exciting, but also a lot of fun. Unlike our all-wheel drive 435i x-drive Portuguese test model for instance, the 435i M-Sport comes with BMW’s traditional rear-wheel drive configuration. Select Sport+ for über lairiness and the rear wheels will be itching to join in, kicking out of line when you really get on the power though not enough to turf you into the scenery if you get it wrong. And that’s just it. The BMW is so poised and easy to manoeuvre, the stiffened chassis providing just the right balance between comfort and dynamism to keep the thrill of the drive intact, that you can’t help but punch it through the corners, on the straights. Even off your driveway. It’s a coupe that excites. It’s a car that you want to own. It’s a car you quickly grow to love.
Sometimes a holiday romance really does become true love.
|Engine:||Inline-6cyl / TwinPower Turbo / 2979cc|
|Power:||306hp @ 5800-6000rpm|
|Torque:||295lb ft @ 1200-5000rpm|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed Sport automatic / rear-wheel drive|
|Front suspension:||Aluminium double-joint spring strut axle with displaced camber / small positive steering roll radius / compensation of lateral forces / anti-dive|
|Rear suspension:||Five-link axle in lightweight steel construction|
|Brakes:||Single-piston swing-calliper disc brakes / inner-vented / DSC incl. ABS and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) / CBC (Cornering Brake Control) / DBC (Dynamic Brake Control) / Dry Braking function / Fading Compensation / Start-Off Assistant|
|Wheels:||7.5J x 17 light alloys front and rear|
|Tyres:||225/50 R17 front and rear|
|Top speed:||250kph (electronically limited)|