We have a new sweetheart and it’s not the BMW 3-Series Coupe. It can’t be, because, well the 3-Series Coupe isn’t new, and in fact, for 2014 it no longer even in BMW showrooms. Instead, our new sweetheart du jour –we’re notoriously fickle–is the new 2014 BMW 4-Series. Even more specifically it’s the 2014 BMW 4-Series 428i M Sport.
More about why, but first a little background. The BMW 4-Series replaces the 3-Series coupe for 2014. The new nomenclature puts the coupe in sync with the larger BMW 6-Series and 8-Series vis a vis the respective sedans, and secondly, the 4-Series is more than just a two-door skin living on the four-door’s bones.
Indeed, the 4-Series is .6 inches lower and just an inch longer overall, but the wheelbase has been stretched significantly by two inches. What’s more, the width of the coupe is increased by 1.7-inches, the widest point measured at the rear wheel arches. The front track is wider by 1.8 inches and a significant 3.1 inches more rear track.
The dimensional changes combine with the passenger compartment set back for a long hood and short overhangs to give the BMW 4-Series an extra dose of sporty.
It’s even more than that. The BMW 4-Series has the lowest center of gravity of any BMW production model, and a near perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution.
To further differentiate the 4-Series from the three, the double-kidney grille tilts slightly forward and combined with the headlight cluster to make a single band spreading across the front end. The front apron gains the vertical scoops for the Air Curtain system, which blows air around the front wheels for improved aerodynamics, and the front fenders have the Air Breathers vents, which allow allows inside the front wheel wells to escape, further enhancing aerodynamics.
BMW took the M Sport trim level, which we drove and is pictured here, with large air intakes in the front apron, added an air diffuser under the rear bumper and side skirts to the rocker panels. Eighteen-inch double-spoke light alloy wheels are also included, along with the M Sport brakes, with their M Sport-emblazoned blue calipers highly visible behind the wheel spokes.
The dash has a familiar horizontal element, our tester’s in Estoril blue, matching the exterior (exclusive to 4-Series with M Sport), reaching across the doors and onto the doors along with a large hood over the white-on-black dials beloved by Bimmerphiles. The dash gains a freestanding multi-information display, a new BMW design element. The M Sport sport seats have large seatback bolsters, but for the moderately-sized us they were comfortable. Because the seats have
The BMW 4-Series is available with either a 2.0-liter turbo four or 3.0-liter inline turbo six, designated 428i and 435i respectively. The engines are familiar properties to BMW fans, the 4-Series rated at 240-horses (as in the BMW X1 recently tested), and the six at 300 horses. Both are available with rear or all-wheel drive. A six-speed manual transmission is available with the 428i with rear-wheel drive only. Our test car was equipped with the 8-speed automatic.
Not that we aren’t seducible by the charms of a BMW six, but having driven both in the 4-Series, we’re particularly enchanted by the four in this application. It produces adequate power—adequate in BMW terms, that is—to move the 428i briskly and with a distinctively four-cylinder sound.
Naturally the eight-speed automatic has a paddle-shifted manual mode. Many cars with paddle or other manual shifting systems we often leave in full automatic mode. Not so this engine/transmission combination. It made us want to be an active partner in the process.
The engine/tranny combination, by the way, chops the throttle on upshift so there’s no jerk as the next gear is engaged, and the pause is audible and crisp. But hold the throttle down and the transmission will upshift, even in manual mode. Use it to get maximum rpm out of each gear, rather than having to manually anticipate and precisely time the next shift for maximum accelera6tion. The engine and transmission can do it better than you.