BMW 4 Series Review

Find out more about the BMW 4 Series in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • Great looking exterior
  • Lots of quality equipment
  • Fun to drive
  • Cons
  • Diesels lack refinement
  • Practicality does suffer
  • Ride can be very firm
  • MPG
    36 - 60
  • CO2
    124 - 176 g/km
Model Review

Based on the daddy of the mid-size saloon category – the BMW 3 Series – the 4 Series was introduced to dominate the mid-size coupe sector in 2013.

With the distinctive dual kidney grille and inlet design at the front, the 4 Series is a sleeker and sportier-looking alternative to the saloon, as it is roughly the same size but is arguably more attractive.

Coming in three body types – coupe, gran coupe and convertible – the 4 Series has six engine options to choose from, with three petrol and three diesels.

A minor update for the model was introduced at the start of 2017, which refined the design further and added some extra equipment for an improved finish, although it may age when compared to its nearest rivals.

Latest Model

BMW updated the 4 Series for the start of 2017 and with the facelift came a redesign front end, new tech and a further refined driving experience.

A new suspension set-up has also been employed for the coupe and gran coupe models that was brought in to improve the car’s handling without compromising the ride comfort. These improvements have been added to the M Sport and Adaptive suspension packages also.

New interior design options have also been introduced and the finish of the cabin has been improved, but is still quite sterile and similar to every other BMW.

The engine line-up has also been tweaked, with many of the range coming with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.

 

Value for money

If you consider the M4, there are only three trim levels for 4 Series customers to choose from, with ‘Sport’ the base option. Coming with heated sport front seats, multi-function leather steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, drive performance control, BMW ConnectedDrive infotainment system and park distance control, the Sport spec has quality accessories that the driver can use.

Other mod-cons include Bluetooth hands-free, USB connectivity, 60/40 split rear seats in the coupe and automatic two-zone air conditioning. Starting from £32,580 OTR, the premium finish and brand reputation can allow for that price, but that doesn’t mean pre-facelifted premium models can’t be found on the used market for a cheaper price.

On the pre-owned market, there are more examples of convertible than coupe models on offer, however of the coupe options there are, plenty come with a high spec and some of those are fitted with the more desirable petrol units.

One example is a 435i in M Sport spec and that comes with a head-up display, electric sunroof, M Sport Plus package with adaptive M Sport suspension, 19-inch alloys, satellite navigation and front and rear park assist.

With a 306bhp 3.0-litre petrol under the bonnet and automatic transmission, this example has 25,550 miles on the clock and is in a good condition. It is good to point out that pre-facelift model may not have the tech that the new models have, but in terms of looks and drive they are very similar indeed and well worth looking at.

 

Looks and image

As the sleeker sibling to the 3 Series, it has a sportier edge thanks to its wider stance, sloping roofline and frameless doors and that makes it one of the more attractive BMW on sale. The new LED head and tail lights offer a different character also and is on par with the competing mid-size coupes on the market, like the Mercedes C-Class Coupe and Lexus RC Coupe.

The convertible uses a metal folding roof that transforms the model into a stylish cruiser, while the gran coupe version does edge towards the styling of the 3 Series more than the rest of the range but is marketed as a sportier 3 Series Gran Turismo, which is a fair comparison to make.

Thanks to its lower and wider stance on the road than the 3 Series, the 4 Series is even more refined and responsive through corners than its more well-known rival and with the rear-wheel drive format it has a sportier driving feel.

The suspension set-up has been engineered to be well-balanced and composed to be great in more dynamic situations and comfortable over most surfaces. Thanks to the lower ride and centre of gravity body roll is kept to a minimum. Even with the electric steering that can be numb at times, turn-in is good and the 4 Series feels controlled through the corners.

Despite having a more dynamic orientation, the 4 Series has been well-built to cope with most road conditions and is more comfortable than you would expect. When fitted with the more advanced M Sport adaptive suspension, you can choose the ride feel to suit your attitude and preferred feel, but in Comfort mode the 4 Series copes well with most ruts and holes in the road.

You will get some noises if the wheels have to travel far to cope with a large imperfection in the road, but it does well in most circumstances. The simpler sport suspension may not be as refined but still does well.

Space and practicality

Like its 3 Series counterpart, the 4 Series does have a lot of space but as with any coupe you lose practicality with the sloping roof and lower profile. You can select to have folding seats in the coupe and gran coupe, but they are an option so make sure that if you want extra practicality you select it.

It has a marginally smaller boot than the Audi A5 but does well when compared to other coupes at 445 litres, although it is quite shallow due to the model’s lower stance on the road. Only the gran coupe can seat five in the back, as the coupe and convertible versions sacrifice the middle space for an armrest.

Even though it hasn’t been put through Euro NCAP’s stringent safety tests, it shares a chassis with the 3 Series and that performed as well as you would expect from a German manufacturer.

You can expect it would have gained a five-star Euro NCAP rating and with the raft of optional safety extras available, customers can choose to kit out their 4 Series to a very safe standard.

Park distance control comes as standard across all models, but there are other – sometimes expensive – systems on offer, such as head-up display, driving assistant, active cruise control with stop and go, reversing assist camera and park assist.

As the headroom in the rear is less than suitable for tall people, it could do well as a family car, especially in the gran coupe body – which includes a central fifth seat. With Isofix points on the rear seats and an excellent safety rating, either the coupe or gran coupe could work as a viable family car – less so for the convertible due to the storage space being taken up by the roof.

Engines

With a reasonable selection of engine options to choose from, the 4 Series has three petrol options and three diesel units in its collection. Ranging from 184bhp to 326bhp in the petrol range, the base 420i is the only one that can be chosen with xDrive all-wheel drive but it doesn’t quite grip you as much as the more powerful pair. The 440i offers close to M-car performance, but it doesn’t goad you on as much as the M4 would and is a great everyday option for petrolheads.

For the diesel options you get between 190bhp and 313bhp, which again offers a good range of performance. All the diesels can come with xDrive. The best-seller of the range – the 420d – gives great all-round performance, as well as being the most economical, so it is worth checking out. The top end 435d can offer M4-like performance on your everyday drive with better economy and could be a fun option as an executive cruiser. Manual and automatic transmissions are available with all units except the 430d and 435d.

Running costs

Clearly the diesel options return a much better mpg and emit less CO2s per km than the petrol options, but don’t discount the unleaded options. They are quite impressive still, with the base 420i returning an optimum 48.7mpg and emitting 134g/km CO2. All the diesels are capable of achieving over 50mpg, with the 420d returning a commendable 65.7mpg and emitting 114g/km CO2. All models cost at least £160 for the first year of road tax, with it costing £140 from every year after. The cheapest to insure is the 420i xDrive in Sport trim as it sits in group 30, with the most expensive to insure being the 435d xDrive in M Sport in group 41.

Things to look out for

In its short history on the market, the 4 Series has performed well on the reliability front. It is worth pointing out that some of the BMW four-cylinder engines that are fitted to the 4 have been known to malfunction over time and problems with the turbo have massively affected the units. Be careful to keep the 4 Series well serviced and in good shape, but BMW have been doing plenty to rectify the problems since they became prevalent so it is something to keep an eye on.

 

Rivals

With most of the 4 Series’ competition coming from Mercedes and Audi in the form of the C-Class Coupe and A5, few others can match those three on overall attributes. Arguably the better-looking car is Lexus’s RC, although it can’t match those three in terms of overall performance. There are cheaper coupes that can perform on the same level, like the Audi TT, but they don’t have the practicality the 4 Series can offer.

 

Depreciation warning

You can expect the 4 Series to perform relatively well on the used market like its market rivals – roughly around 45 per cent. Mid-spec diesels can perform better due to their impressive efficiency and good level of trim.

Which 4 Series to Pick

Trims Explained

For the standard 4 Series, BMW only provides two trim levels but they come with a good level of specification and plenty of accessories.

Sport

In Sport trim, the 4 Series is fitted with 18-inch alloys, two-zone automatic air conditioning, BMW ConnectedDrive with navigation and emergency call, drive performance control and park distance control with front and rear sensors. You also get Bluetooth hands-free, heated sports front seats, multi-functional sports steering wheel and LED head and tail lights. In the coupe body, prices start from £31,600, with the convertible model starting from £36,350.

Both are competitively priced when compared to their Germans rivals.

M Sport

For the more recognisable and desirable M Sport spec, you get ‘M’ badges throughout the interior and on the exterior, M Sport suspension, M Sport multi-function steering wheel, M-specific aerodynamic body styling, the option of an eight-speed automatic transmission and metallic paint. Other styling additions are also made, but the £1,350 premium over the Sport model may be slightly over the top.

Starting price for the M Sport models start at £32,950, with the convertible model starting at £37,700.

Summary

  1. Very nice to look at
  2. Good levels of spec from base
  3. Few, but very good, rivals
  4. Limited reliability issues
  5. Composed and fun to drive
  6. Sloping roof does take away some practicality
  7. Based on safe and sturdy 3 Series
  8. Reasonably priced to buy and run
  9. Top-end diesel gives M4-like performance
  10. Well-priced used models in good trim