4 Series? What’s a BMW 4 Series? Never heard of it.
BMW has been keeping its sedans, wagons, and utilities at odd numbers while moving its coupes and coupe-like things to even numbers. Because it’s a lot easier to tell someone he or she should pay more for a higher number. That’s why the 2014 BMW 4 Series exists; “the new 4 Series Coupe represents something more than its BMW 3 Series cousins–3+1, if you will” is how the automaker explains it in the puffery of its literature.
Alas, the BMW 3 Series coupe isn’t coming back; you’re going to see a high-performance BMW M4 sooner or later with a turbocharged six-cylinder pumping out north of 420 horsepower sooner or later. In the meantime, we have the 2014 BMW 428i and 435i to satiate the desires of the North American market, representing BMW’s latest coupe offerings to fend off the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, Audi A5, Cadillac CTS coupe and upcoming ATS coupe, and more. BMW has been the top dog in the segment for a while now–a segment it practically created back in the late-1960s with the inception of the 2002 coupe. Now, it looks to heighten its image and push the 4 Series into a higher echelon.
Previewed by the BMW Concept 4 Series that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the production version isn’t quite as wild, toning down the look of its bumpers and interior. But it’s all basically the same vehicle, stretched one inch longer to 182.6 inches total, with two inches added between the wheels (110.6 inches) for greater passenger comfort versus the outgoing BMW 3 Series coupe. The 2014 4 Series roofline is a smidge lower, and the car is a full 1.7 inch wider, all of this going to make the car look sportier and meaner than the outgoing coupe.
Other nifty touches are available the Luxury, Sport, and M Sport trim lines that outfit the cars with specific details exclusive to their respective trims. For instance, the M Sport will have a sportier suspension tuning and more powerful brakes than any of the other 4 Series models, delivering the racy character expected from the marque. BMW connoisseurs will note that the Modern line will stay on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We’re not getting it and its odd ribbed, matte-finish wood.
The 2014 BMW 4 Series is set to launch with available full-LED headlights with automatic high-beam adjustments that keep one beam on at a time as not to blind oncoming traffic, Air Breathers and Air Curtains that better channel air around the wheel arches for improved aerodynamic efficiency, and standard iDrive 4.2, the latest version of the automaker’s infotainment GUI that is part of the larger ConnectedDrive suite. It comes with a new touchpad for writing out script with your finger. Alas, most of the rest of the car is par for the course versus the 3 Series, only minus two doors.
Engine and Drivetrain
Like the BMW 3 Series, the 4 Series will be offered with two engine options initially. The 2014 BMW 428i has the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as the 328i, producing 240 horsepower. The 435i will come with the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that can also be found in the 335i. See? Not a big difference. We do wonder if BMW will put its 180-horsepower engine into the 4 Series in the U.S. eventually, making it a BMW 420i. We hear that would sell like hotcakes in Colorado and Washington state, as well as Venice Beach (as long as you have a prescription).
Both engines come paired to a standard quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, powering either the rear wheels or all of them when optioned with BMW’s xDrive. BMW 428i models with xDrive come in automatic only, while all other models can be had with a six-speed manual transmission for those who still prefer DIY driving. Like the 3 Series, the 4 Series will have different driving modes that include Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. They make the car either better fuel misers or more fun. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, with one mode that does it all. Auto start/stop will also be standard equipment; let’s hope BMW has made its action a little smoother in this iteration.
BMW claims the 428i will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds with either transmission. The 435i will do the same task in 5.3 seconds with the manual transmission and 5 seconds flat with the auto box.
As much as any of this may sound like criticism, it’s only because marketers have run amok at what has always been an engineer’s company. Now we have 4 Series instead of 3 Series coupes, justifying a $1,800 price increase over the outgoing 328i coupe at $41,425 for starters for the 428i. The 435i goes up $900. On the all-wheel-drive front, the 428i xDrive picks up $2,000 over the outgoing base car at $43,425, and the 435i gains $1,200 for a final tally of $48,925, cynically coming without standard leather seats at that price. The 4 Series will hit dealerships by the end of summer.
On the plus side, this opens up more room for the upcoming BMW 2 Series coupe down at the bottom.
BMWs are still among the best-driving cars on the road, but they’re not as good as they were for the focused driver. The 4 Series looks better than the car it replaces, should be more practical for passengers and cargo with a 15.8 cubic-foot trunk. This car should sell well because nearly every BMW sells well. We’re just hoping that BMW keeps on giving us a reason to pick its bread and butter over an Audi or Mercedes-Benz. Driving dynamics have always been its breadwinner.
We’d like BMW to continue with that, hopefully rectifying the few shortcomings the current 3 Series has to make the 4 Series an even better car.