The new BMW Four’ bold styling may be divisive. But the pun is fully intended
Hey, big mouth! I’m talking to you… BMW says its all-new 4 Series’ styling is ‘standalone’. We say its controversial big-mouthed face has divided opinion like few cars ever before.
Company suits call it edgy. They remind us that the car will match its expected extravagant owners’ character to the tee. Well, with a mouth like that… They also say it also borrows its cues from legendary BMW coupés to reflect the engine’s cooling needs. I definitely has a distinctive character, squarely focused on delivering dynamic driving pleasure.
“THE BMW FOUR IS GROWING ON ME”
Well, after finally witnessing it in the flesh, I have to confess that the new Four is starting to grow on me. It certainly very clearly differentiates itself from its four-door 3 Series sedan siblings. BMW speak defines the new Four as ‘a signature coupé with edgy, clean surfacing and a striking front end. And it certainly has split opinion right from the get-go.
We had the opportunity to drive the car today and I can confirm that there are far worse days to spend a Tuesday morning. BMW has launched a three-model five-variant range in SA. The 275 kW 500 Nm lightweight aluminium 3-litre straight-six AWD M440i xDrive Coupé flagship gets revamped turbocharging to improve fuel efficiency and turbine response. It’s good for a 4.5 second 1-100km/h dash with a speed limited 250 km/h top end. It sips 6.8 l/100km and emits 155g CO2 per km.
We think it will be even quicker though, if our impressions today and our recent test of the M340i xDrive are anything to go by. It’s backed by the choice of the 135 kW 300 Nm 7.5 second 0-100 240 km/h 5.3 l/100km 122 g/km 2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol 420i Coupe. And the 140 kW 400 Nm 2-litre turbodiesel 420d Coupé that will take 7.1 seconds to reach 100 and also go on to 240 km/h. We also had the pleasure of getting to know the diesel a bit more intimately today.
FOUR BENEFITS A LITTLE HYBRID BOOST TOO
Both the straight six petrol and the diesel models we drove benefit an 8 kW 48 volt starter-generator mild hybrid system. To boost the combustion engines for even sharper response and optimal efficiency. The diesel now also now has two-stage turbocharging, while the optional eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission gets a new Sprint function to instantaneously select a more dynamic temper.
M Sport spec is standard on the M440i and optional on the lower models. M Sport Pro adds Sport transmission, 19-inch M light-alloys and a ‘sporty interior soundtrack’. You can also tick Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport brakes and a fully variable lockable M Sport differential boxes when you spec your Four.
Stiffer and weight-optimised, the new 4 Series Coupé benefits a 21-millimetre lower centre of gravity and 23 mm broader rear axle track than the latest 3 Series for 50:50 weight distribution. Optimised aerodynamics reduce rear axle lift. New 4 gets bespoke tuned lift-related damper suspension with an even firmer optional M Sport option.
A DRIVER FOCUSSED CABIN
The new Four’s sporty driver-focused cockpit has a new display grouping with a 10.25-inch Control and optional fully digital 12.3-inch instrumentation. That’s backed up by a far better integrated and improved new generation 3D head-up display. Add sports seats up front and two individual pews aft, a new, far more interactive sports leather steering wheel and a ‘high-quality centre console design’ too.
A wider range of driver assistance systems includes warnings for front collision with brake input, and lane departure with steering assisted lane return. There’s also a new cloud-mapped active navigation with an emergency lane function. Add Park Distance Control with front and rear sensors and an optional Parking Assistant Plus and that intelligent personal assistant. Don’t forget Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile phone integration. And WiFi connectivity with remote software upgrading.
WORSE WAYS TO SPEND A TUESDAY MORNING
There are far worse ways to spend a Tuesday morning. We were tasked to get to know the newcomers over the Cape’s finest roads. First up, we had the pleasure of the M440i. Packing BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive and a tuneable M Sport differential, that M tuning extends to the monster 348 mm front and 345 mm rear disc brakes with M-branded big blue callipers. Electronically controlled dampers come as part of the optional Adaptive M suspension system.
Packing a literal kitchen sink full of spec around BMW’s quite astounding Operating System 7.0 with fully digital instrumentation and interface. It’s controlled by your choice of touching the screen, the iDrive Controller, steering wheel buttons, gesture or voice control. The gesture control may be a tad too sensitive if you’re Italian!
But the voice command impressed even with our thick Saffer accent. More than can be said about some of it’s much acclaimed rival vocal interfaces.
4 Series can even drive hands free on properly marked roads. But the system will slow the car, pull over and stop if the driver fails to respond. And demand assistance if there is still no reaction. Quite eerie! Some may never get to exploring all the tricks this car can turn – it really does have it all. And more.
BMW FOUR IS POISED, BALANCED AND PRECISE
Sublime on the road, the 440i is poised, balanced and precise. It responds to driver inputs brilliantly and tests your limits rather than you it’s. And M440i splendidly reports everything I want to know about what it is doing. Stepping ‘down’ to the 420d I was impressed with its soft, smooth but stlll certainly sporty enough character.
That finely electric power steering tech is starting to feel like it did at the acme of those brilliant mechanical old days. Our white steed had black 18-inch alloys wrapped in Sport rubber that roeard a bit much on some surfaces. Some may find it a touch too hard over less than ideal surfaces, but to the purist driver that’s a well earned compromise. And fuel consumption is a boon versus what the likes of a 335i Coupé would devour just ten yers ago. Uncanny, actually.
All in all, the new BMW Four Series challenges you on your fist encounter with it. But that controversial nose is out of sight when you get behind the wheel and that is when this car shows its brilliant true colours. That look is growing in us however, as we are sure it will on you. But then if you are the kind of person BMW has earmarked as an owner, none of that will matter anyway. This one makes a pretty big statement both on, and off the road. Go get it, tiger! — Michele Lupini
BMW 4 series pricing 420i R755K 420i M Sport R800K 420d R802K 420d M Sport R848K M440i xDrive M SPort R1.11M