BMW has been doing some housekeeping recently, renaming and redefining a few new models. The 4 Series not only fills the 'shoes' of the 3 Coupé, but takes it further.
It is built on the same platform as the award-winning 3 Series, but the wheelbase has been stretched by 50mm. Overall, the car is just 26mm longer than the 3 Series saloon. The 4 Series is lower and wider, too - by some 43mm. More importantly, for both looks and handling, the track is also wider.
The rear track has grown by 81mm, while the front is wider by 45mm. BMW has, for the first time, produced a mid-sized coupé that is widest at the wheel arches! This gives the 4 a very muscular stance on the road and, in fact, BMW tells us that the 4 Series has the lowest centre of gravity of any current Beemer.
The 3 Series Coupé was always a fine-looking machine, so why mess with a winning formula? BMW is well aware of the success of rivals like the elegant Audi A5, a car that is basically an A4 Coupé. The 4 Series comes with virtually the same engine range, but now the two-door gets a more distinctive exterior in an attempt to move it upmarket. It features short overhangs, frameless doors and 'L'-shaped rear tail lights; that 'Hofmeister Kink' panel shape at the C pillar and the air breather slots help make the 4 Series stand out from the 3.
Inside, the cabin is elegant and well thought-out. Sadly, the dreadful manual seat height adjustment that BMW persists with remains! Those familiar with the mechanism hate it, as you have to pull yourself up and almost out of the seat to get the seat base to raise up. Thankfully, there are automatic seatbelt feeders to save the front seat occupants from twisting their backs reaching backwards. And apart from the seat niggle, the cabin is a great place to be - once you have an automatic gearbox (as there is no resting space for your clutch foot in the manual gearbox version).
The 4 Series is available in rear-wheel drive and xDrive (all-wheel drive) form. We took the 428i (petrol) for a test and it goes without saying that the car is beautifully balanced. 428i uses a four-cylinder engine that pushes out 245hp and 350nm of torque. This means 0-100km/h takes just 5.8 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. CO2 is relatively low at 147g/CO2 and fuel consumption is an acceptable 44mpg.
Five trim levels are available, starting with SE and rising through Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport. There is a further options list, of course, to help personalise your car. BMW expects to sell over 100 4 Series in Ireland in 2014 and over 80% of them will be automatic.
On the open road you can really feel the benefit of the lower CO2 and wider track. The 4 Series is a beautiful car that is a refined yet dynamic machine.
Enthusiastic drivers will definitely enjoy taking the long way home in the 4 Series.