Overnight BMW unveiled the controversial front end of the new 4 Series resplendent with those two tall kidney grilles of the Concept 4. But there’s more to this new executive coupe than just a pair of grilles.
It’s the latest in a long line of BMW coupes that promise to do double duty, vehicles with sporting intentions and fantastic engines but with similar practicality to four-door sedans – including 440 litres of boot space. Save for the rear bucket seats, which we think are pretty awesome anyway.
Arriving in Australia in October this year, BMW’s classic take on the everyday two-door will have to deal with the usual raft of foes like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Audi A5 and the coming Lexus IS.
But in a world consumed by sloping roofline SUVs – the Bavarians only have themselves to thank for that – the new 4 Series will face fierce competition from the likes of the X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and coming Audi Q5 Sportback.
BMW foreshadowed the new grille-forward aesthetic of the 4 Series at Frankfurt last year. Between then and now conjecture has run rife – we could hardly believe what we’d seen.
However, over time and, presumably, though design iterations the styling has softened somewhat, for better or worse. Firstly the new nose has settled in better than expected; we’ll wait until we’ve seen the 4 in the flesh, but impressions are more favourable than predicted.
Unfortunately, the production car has ditched the sharply angled boot lip of the concept in favour of a more bulbous shape reminiscent of the previous 4 Series, and current G20 3 Series sedan.
From what we’ve seen so far it’s a good looking thing, though. The low and long proportions are pleasing to the eye, but there’s the feeling that BMW’s designers could have done more to support that centre-piece of a front grille.
Underpinning the new 4 Series is BMW’s cluster architecture, though it shares fewer dimensions with its 3 Series cousin than ever before.
All around the 4 Series sports a 23mm wider track both front and rear, this should improve road-holding. And, despite sharing the same 2,851mm wheelbase, the 4 is 54mm longer at 4,763mm and 25mm wider than the 3 Series. It also sports a whopping 57mm lower roofline than the sedan.
Combined with increased front negative camber and specifically tuned springs and dampers, the 4 Series should offer a markedly different driving experience to the 3. Certainly more so than any of its predecessors.
As for engines, well, the 4 essentially mirrors the Australian 3 Series line-up. That means petrol only, starting with the 135kW/300Nm 420i with a turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder engine.
That same basic engine powers the 430i, though in a more potent state of tune that car will produce outputs of 190kW and 400Nm.
Topping the range is the familiar B58 lump, a turbocharged three-litre straight-six with prodigious outputs of 285kW and 500Nm. It’s a cracking powertrain, but sadly here in Australia, it will only be available in conjunction with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Great for the snow, but not so great if you plan to take your 4 Series to the track.
The new 4 Series also marks the first time that BMW is refusing to offer a manual gearbox on any variant of the compact coupe. Luckily the ZF eight-speed torque converter is good enough to make that a non-issue.
The interior design of the new 4 Series is somewhat similar to the sedan, with near-identical dashboard architecture. BMW’s digital cockpit makes an appearance with the latest software, as do both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in wireless guises, that’s been a while coming.
Exact specification and pricing will be available closer to the October launch of the new 4 Series but expect the sleeker two-door to command a small premium over the 3 Series counterpart.
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