BMW 4Series: Shorter, wider with plenty of muscle to spare

By Liz Dobson

Redesigned from rear to shark-nosed front, BMW's 4 is a worthy replacement for 3 Series coupe

The "shark nose" grille on the 4 Series merges with the front headlights.
The "shark nose" grille on the 4 Series merges with the front headlights.

It's not often you strive to be shorter and wider to make an impression but when it comes to sports coupes the supermodel measurements of tall and thin don't count.

Fittingly the fourth generation of the premium mid-sized coupe has been re-designated as the 4 Series, replacing the 3 Series coupe and creating a new class for BMW.

The German company has pushed aside the vege platter and has instead moved on to the muscle-enhancing diet when it came to designing the all-new coupe.

To make an impact in this segment, BMW has totally redesigned the vehicle to create a wider and more dominant stance on the road.

The overall length has increased by 26mm to 4638mm, the width is now 1825mm, up 43mm but the height has been lowered to 1362mm, cutting 16mm off the previous model with the roofline running lower to enhance the crouching appearance. Despite the increases, the 4 Series coupe is 15kg lighter than its predecessor.

While technically the 4 Series coupe is based on the chassis of the latest 3 Series sedan, it has had 50mm added to the wheelbase while the track width gains 45mm in the front and 80mm at the rear.

That low-slung appearance, plus the new front headlights that merge with the "shark nose" grille, produces a macho appearance and keeps in style with the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.

Officially launched in Australia last week and on sale now in New Zealand, we will get two petrol, eight-speed sports automatic variants - the 428i with a 2-litre priced at $98,000 and the $126,500 435i with a 3-litre engine offering the addition of the M Sport package.

An extra $5500 add the M Sport package to the 428i, including features like 19in double-spoke alloys and adaptive suspension.

The BMW engineers have tinkered with the engines to increase performance. The 428i has the award-winning twinpower turbo four-cylinder petrol engine developing 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque hitting 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds, all with a combined cycle of 64.l/100km for fuel economy.

The big daddy of the two, the 435i pumps out 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque via the twinpower turbo in-line six-cylinder engine, polishing off 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and having the fuel statistics of 7.4l/100km.

To help with aerodynamics on the low-slung coupes, there are wide air intakes in the front apron with air-curtains behind the front wheels.

The interior of the BMW 4 Series 428i.
The interior of the BMW 4 Series 428i.

Inside the coupe gains the notable iDrive Touch where the top of the infotainment dial works as a pad so you can write letters of locations for the satnav system instead of having to scroll through your options.

The four seater has sufficient head room in the rear seat and a plenty of boot space, ample for a weekend getaway.

To show off the 4 Series coupes, BMW held the launch near the Victoria border town of Wangaratta to take in the stunning Great Alpine Way drive before ending at the coastal town of Paynesville.

Nabbing the M Sport 428i for the first straight leg from Wangaratta to the start of the Great Alpine Way and the base of Mt Hotham, I made the most of the car's four settings: eco pro, comfort, sport and sport-plus.

While the car automatically defaults to comfort mode, in sport setting the car transforms into the performance car that you expect from its exterior appearance.

But there was only one vehicle to be in to take in the climb from the base to the top of Mt Hotham past the snow capped peaks, the 435i.

The car growled, desperate to charge ahead and urged you to put your foot down to experience the dynamic suspension.

Moving into sport mode, and engaging the manual transmission, the car's lower stance was evident and worked superbly, pushing the vehicle solidly through corners and devouring the sweeping road.

Too soon it was over - It would have been tempting to turn around and do that mountain road again.

- NZ Herald

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