First Drive

FIRST DRIVE: 2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe

4 Series Coupe is the replacement vehicle for the long-standing 3 Series Coupe

2014 BMW 435i Coupe - front 3/4 view
CASCAIS, PORTUGAL – The 3 is now a 4. That’s not new math, that’s BMW’s way of referring to the 2014 replacement for the long-standing 3 Series coupe – the 4 Series coupe. 

2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe.jpgDue to cross the Atlantic in October, the newly named coupe shares most of the underpinnings of the current 3 Series including length, wheelbase and engines. 

But pretty much everything else has been fettled to arrive at a distinct model, one with a sportier demeanor than the model it replaces. 

The 4 Series coupe is seriously wider and lower with a much more aggressive stance. Its widest point is at the rear wheel arches and it boasts a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and the lowest CG (Centre of Gravity) of anything wearing a BMW badge.

Characteristically BMW

The long hood, short deck, steeply sloped glass and minimal overhangs both front and rear identify this as a BMW coupe. As does the signature Hofmeister kink at the rear C-Pillar and wheels that fill the wheel wells – 18 or 19-inch alloys depending on model and trim. 

2014 BMW 435i Coupe - rear 3/4 view.JPGFrom the forward-sloping twin-kidney shaped grill to the broad rear taillights the coupe stands apart from the 3 Series sedan. Its lower front end incorporates a small pair of air inlets alongside the fog lights, which have been carefully developed in coordination with boomerang shaped air outlets aft of the front wheels.

Those outlets encourage air to flow more smoothly around the front wheels, improving aerodynamics and thus both wind noise and fuel economy. It is details like this that confirm the new 4 Series coupe was developed by people who like to drive for people with similar taste.

Sporty and functional interior

The interior is another area where it is clear the design team shares the driving gene. 

2014 BMW 435i Coupe - steering wheel and instrument panel.JPGEnsconced in the highly contoured seat behind the Sport steering wheel you can see, reach and figure out everything readily. The instruments and both major and minor controls will be familiar to anyone who has ever encountered a BMW. 

The one issue I had was with the flat-screen monitor that sticks up out of the instrument panel like an after-thought. This might be a German thing as the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, as well as the B-Class, has the same issue.
 
But, like the full-colour head up display, that bright and clear screen is easily configured  and very legible. Unlike earlier versions, the iDrive controller on the centre console is easy to decipher and allows control of a myriad of features. 

2014 BMW 435i Coupe - rear seat access.JPGThe rear seatback is split 40/20/40 so you have a number of options when it comes to carrying long or bulky cargo. If your hands are full and you opted for the option, you can swipe your foot under the rear bumper to open the trunk lid.  

The interior can be a bit dull, however, unless you opt for the newly available two-tone trim option. The vehicles available here for the global introduction of this new BMW were all so-equipped and the result was a pleasantly sporty image.

Two engines

The 4 Series will come to Canada in 428i and 435i designations, both with twin-turbo, in-line engines featuring direct injection and variable valve timing. 

2014 BMW 435i Coupe - engine cover.JPGLifted straight from the 3 Series sedan, the four-cylinder 428i produces 245 horsepower while the six generates 306 horsepower. Both models are available with an updated version of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. 

The 428i comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment with an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters a $1,600 option. 

The 428i xDrive is only available with the automatic. The 435i comes with the automatic, but the manual gearbox is a no-charge option.

Both engines have an auto stop/start system to save fuel by shutting the engine down when the vehicle is stationary for more than a second andrestarting it instantly when you take your foot off the brake pedal. You notice the silence when the engine stops and made are aware of it restarting only by a slight shudder. 

Both the 428 and the 435 also come with a standard Brake  Energy Regeneration system that converts braking energy to electricity, which is used to supplement that used by onboard systems.

Extensive equipment list

As you would expect from this brand and price point, the standard equipment list includes all the requisite power assists and such things as automatic climate control. 

2014 BMW 435i Coupe -rear wheel detail.JPGThe option list is impressive both for what it contains and the effect on the bottom line. Some items like the rear view camera and park assist are standard equipment on many cars costing much less. 

But items like Surround View with side and top views, parking assist, full LED headlights with high beam assist, Active Drive Assist, Active Cruise Control with Stop-And-Go ability and a new navigation system with a touchpad atop the controller are all features that may filter down to lesser cars in the future.  
 
On road and track

The two-hour drive from downtown Lisbon to this coastal resort area took us over a variety of roads from high speed autobahn-type sections to twisty mountain passes. The alacrity of the chassis and the accuracy of the steering were evident from the outset. 

2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe.jpgWhile the major components and pickup points are shared with the current sixth-generation 3 Series, the alterations make this an even more impressive driver’s car.

The engineering team altered everything from camber to springs, dampers and bushings. They even developed an additional structural brace attached to the front sub-frame. 

All of this attention pays off when you start to push. And that we did with unrestricted hot laps of the Estoril Race facility. 

2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe.jpgHere the low centre of gravity and excellent weight distribution helped show off the steering and suspension calibrations developed by the chassis team. The brakes were powerful, progressive and fade-free despite some cruel and unusual treatment on the track. 

No four-cylinder models were available during this event. The six showed its stuff on road and track. Silky smooth and silent as you’d expect from a BMW straight six, it is able to hustle this relatively large car from zero to 100 km/hr. in 5.4 seconds. Another tough day at the office!

Canadian packages

The 428i coming to Canada will be equipped with the Sport Line package with glossy black exterior accents and red accents inside. 

The 435i will come with the M Sport package which gives you a number of unique lower body panels, 19-inch alloys, and unique steering wheel, seats, sill plates and foot rest. It also includes the Sport suspension on rear drive models. 

An M Performance package is available adding upgraded steering, suspension and brakes. The top rung on this ladder is the M Performance Package II which adds 26 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque.

It may have been a bit of a wait for the coupe since the latest 3 Series came to market. But it was definitely worth it.     

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