How do you make a fine car even better?
BMW’s 4-series coupé, based on the 3-series platform and to be launched in November, is an evolution rather than a revolution.
No great surprise there. It’s a case of a little bit meaner to look at, a little bit lower on the road, some techno enhancements, a bit of this and a bit of that.
In the end, the sum total is another highly appealing range of sporting two-door driver’s cars.
Prices start at £39,870 for the 420i M Sport that I tested, probably the version that will be the best-seller, up to £44k plus for the top-engined xDrive.
As designers often do (with encouragement from the marketing department?), there is a huge importance for the front end or the ‘face’ of the new model. So we now have a deeper BMW kidney grille in shiny black that makes a big statement…especially if it’s in contrast to the white paintwork of the test car.
Front and rear lamps are renewed to the usual BMW school of design, but, except to super-close study of the automotive design, that’s about it in the exterior aspect.
It’s underneath that keen drivers who know their BMWs should, says BMW, detect furthering progression in the car’s sporty driving capability.
Work on the suspension and steering toe-in gives the 4-series an extra nudge.
My drive on a 40-mile route that took in all sorts of roads was at its most enjoyable on (thankfully quiet) twisty country roads. Not that the car’s otherwise docile nature and, then, beautifully sporting note when accelerated hard in ‘Extra boost’ mode, wasn’t appreciated in turn in traffic or cruising dual-carriageways.
The car being a hybrid, playing with the various power settings was fun, as was using the paddles for near-instant manual gear-changing in the 8-speed Steptronic box.
Driving Assistant Professional provided some interesting Variable Sport Steering. It’s clever. However, unless you appreciate what it does and/or why, then at first it can be just a trifle disconcerting: taking a long, fast (70 max) dual-carriageway bend, the car suddenly felt as though a strong wind was shoving against the side of the car; but it was in fact just that touch of autonomy that is becoming slowly but inexorably prevalent these days. The car’s brain probably reckoned that I was in danger of drifting into the central barrier. I wasn’t.
But overall the BMW was great to ride in, with particularly comfortable seats, direct steering with excellent response and that suspension that was versatile enough to provide a supple ride along with totally-reassuring handling.
The 420i M Sport has 184 bhp and 300 Nm of torque from its 1998cc; up the range, the same unit is mapped to 258 bhp in the 430i. Meanwhile, the ‘basic’ car’s 0-62 mph in just 7.5 seconds is surely plenty brisk enough for most owners…even of BMWs.
On a short test, discovering the BMW’s connectivity talents wasn’t an option; it’s all there, of course — no manufacturer wants to be left behind in the techno stakes.
One noteworthy feature now from BMW is the clever way their latest hybrids will automatically switch from fossil fuel to electric power in the cities of London and Birmingham via the onboard mapping system. This solution will be extended as the whole eco drive, by councils progresses. All sorts of variations and options should surely cover every different personal requirement.
Fuel consumption in the combined cycle ranges from around 48 mpg up to 55 mpg, impressive figures if they really are true to life. The same can be said for the emissions of 133 down to 122g/km.
What’s not to like with the new 4-series? Hardly anything!
Car reviewed: BMW 420i M Sport Coupé, on the road price £39,870 estimated 0-62mph 7.5secs Top speed 149mph Engine 1998cc 4 cylinder unleaded Fuel Economy WLTP 48.7-53.3mpg CO2 emissions 132-122g/km Max Power 184hp Torque 300Nm Transmission 8-speed steptronic
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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