CASCAIS, PORTUGAL – The 3 is now a 4. That’s not new math, that’s BMW’s way of referring to the 2014 replacement for the long-standing 3 Series coupe – the 4 Series coupe.
But pretty much everything else has been fettled to arrive at a distinct model, one with a sportier demeanor than the model it replaces.
The 4 Series coupe is seriously wider and lower with a much more aggressive stance. Its widest point is at the rear wheel arches and it boasts a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and the lowest CG (Centre of Gravity) of anything wearing a BMW badge.
The long hood, short deck, steeply sloped glass and minimal overhangs both front and rear identify this as a BMW coupe. As does the signature Hofmeister kink at the rear C-Pillar and wheels that fill the wheel wells – 18 or 19-inch alloys depending on model and trim.
Those outlets encourage air to flow more smoothly around the front wheels, improving aerodynamics and thus both wind noise and fuel economy. It is details like this that confirm the new 4 Series coupe was developed by people who like to drive for people with similar taste.
Sporty and functional interior
The interior is another area where it is clear the design team shares the driving gene.
The one issue I had was with the flat-screen monitor that sticks up out of the instrument panel like an after-thought. This might be a German thing as the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, as well as the B-Class, has the same issue.
But, like the full-colour head up display, that bright and clear screen is easily configured and very legible. Unlike earlier versions, the iDrive controller on the centre console is easy to decipher and allows control of a myriad of features.
The interior can be a bit dull, however, unless you opt for the newly available two-tone trim option. The vehicles available here for the global introduction of this new BMW were all so-equipped and the result was a pleasantly sporty image.
The 4 Series will come to Canada in 428i and 435i designations, both with twin-turbo, in-line engines featuring direct injection and variable valve timing.
The 428i comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment with an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters a $1,600 option.
The 428i xDrive is only available with the automatic. The 435i comes with the automatic, but the manual gearbox is a no-charge option.
Both engines have an auto stop/start system to save fuel by shutting the engine down when the vehicle is stationary for more than a second andrestarting it instantly when you take your foot off the brake pedal. You notice the silence when the engine stops and made are aware of it restarting only by a slight shudder.
Both the 428 and the 435 also come with a standard Brake Energy Regeneration system that converts braking energy to electricity, which is used to supplement that used by onboard systems.
Extensive equipment list
As you would expect from this brand and price point, the standard equipment list includes all the requisite power assists and such things as automatic climate control.
But items like Surround View with side and top views, parking assist, full LED headlights with high beam assist, Active Drive Assist, Active Cruise Control with Stop-And-Go ability and a new navigation system with a touchpad atop the controller are all features that may filter down to lesser cars in the future.
On road and track
The two-hour drive from downtown Lisbon to this coastal resort area took us over a variety of roads from high speed autobahn-type sections to twisty mountain passes. The alacrity of the chassis and the accuracy of the steering were evident from the outset.
The engineering team altered everything from camber to springs, dampers and bushings. They even developed an additional structural brace attached to the front sub-frame.
All of this attention pays off when you start to push. And that we did with unrestricted hot laps of the Estoril Race facility.
No four-cylinder models were available during this event. The six showed its stuff on road and track. Silky smooth and silent as you’d expect from a BMW straight six, it is able to hustle this relatively large car from zero to 100 km/hr. in 5.4 seconds. Another tough day at the office!
The 428i coming to Canada will be equipped with the Sport Line package with glossy black exterior accents and red accents inside.
The 435i will come with the M Sport package which gives you a number of unique lower body panels, 19-inch alloys, and unique steering wheel, seats, sill plates and foot rest. It also includes the Sport suspension on rear drive models.
An M Performance package is available adding upgraded steering, suspension and brakes. The top rung on this ladder is the M Performance Package II which adds 26 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque.
It may have been a bit of a wait for the coupe since the latest 3 Series came to market. But it was definitely worth it.