New BMW 4 Series (435i). FIRST DRIVE

Engine Power Torque 0-100kph Top speed Weight Basic price
Inline 6cyl, TwinPower Turbo, 2979cc 306hp @ 5800-6000rpm 295lb ft @ 1200-5000rpm 4.9 secs 250kph (limited) 1590kg $69,400
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Now though the front end is really at my mercy, proving impressively manoeuvrable and feelsome (aided I’ll add by a centre of gravity 500mm lower than the 3 Series, and the lowest full stop of the current BMW range). In an effort to undercut understeer, of which there’s little trace, the wider wheel track makes for a surprisingly lively rear end, held at bay by the traction control – sometimes obsessively so – in Sport mode but unleashed in the feistier Sport Plus mode to really keep you on your toes. Wrestling 306hp under your control is incredibly entertaining (albeit not on these narrow mountain roads where I’m not feeling that brave), and yet cruising at leisure in Sport, despite the stiffer suspension is no more uncomfortable than Comfort: very rarely did I feel the need to switch from Comfort to Sport during a 500km test drive.

There are though some problems with the 4 Series Coupe, cardinal of which is the eight-speed Sports automatic gearbox. Upshifts are beautifully smooth, offering just enough kick to rubberstamp the transition from one gear to the next. Downshifts though can be somewhat problematic, the system following the Mercedes AMG school of thought by waiting until a ‘safe’ rpm limit before changing down rather than when you actually want it to: more than once I found myself barrelling into a tight turn one gear higher and consequently much faster than I wanted simply because the gearbox hadn’t caught up: as good as the brakes are, engine braking is necessary when you’re on it. There is though – happy days – a six-speed manual alternative available on the 4 Series to keep things simple.

Which brings me to my other concern with the Coupe. The 4 Series is good. Really very, very good. And yet a myriad of technical extras and nanny-ing systems I feel just aren’t necessary on Beemer’s mid-size saloon comes close to wiping out all that good work. This is no luxurious 7 Series or company executive 5 Series: it’s a mid-size three door coupe, designed to be driven by the scruff of the neck or with which to cruise from A to B, whichever way spontaneity takes you. Our test 435i however boasts an iDrive, buttons on the dash and a multifunction steering wheel; a Sport’s Package, offering black trim, red leather and silver detailed upholstery; BMW ConnectedDrive that offers Lane Watch (that vibrates the steering wheel when you deviate from lane), Driving Assistant Plus (which warns of accidents by slamming the brakes on), and Active Cruise Control. There’s just so much on offer you can very easily get lost amongst it all.

I love the 4 Series Coupe. I really do, and will wax the virtues of it to anyone who’ll listen, voluntarily or otherwise. The problem I have – and I’ll admit this opinion may not be shared by everyone – is the rose tinted spectacles. Yes, the intelligent driver assist systems are very clever and the enthusiasm with which BMW has gone into this project is not only staggering to behold but clear to see. The former-3 Series owner in me though finds it difficult to completely part the waves between the 3 and the 4.

There will come a time though when the spectacles are shelved and I will want a 4 Series Coupe in my garage.

BMW 435i xDrive
Engine: Inline-6cyl / TwinPower Turbo / 2979cc
Power: 306hp @ 5800-6000rpm
Torque: 295lb ft @ 1200-5000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed Sport automatic / xDrive all-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
Weight (kerb): 1590kg
0-100kph: 4.9sec
Top speed: 250kph (electronically limited)
Basic price: $69,400


Categories: Car Review,Road


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