The 1972 BMW 5 Series might have been around the longest, but there’s no doubt it’s the 1975-on 3 Series that can lay claim to the most iconic badge in the line-up. So you can understand our astonishment when we learned BMW had killed off the 3 Series coupe.
Enter stage left the 4 Series which, frankly, just sounds a bit wrong. BMW is claiming it’s anything but of course. It looks the part and the company tells us the 4 Series has the lowest centre of gravity of all its models, offering a properly sporty drive.
Without wishing to call its bluff we headed to Portugal to try the range-topping (for now) £40,795 BMW 435i Luxury Coupe in a bid to find out for ourselves.
It’s sensibly laid out, impeccably built and features some clever detailing – it’s just not the event we expected it’d be.Longer, wider and lower than before, the 4 Series is without doubt sharper than the 3 Series it replaces. That’s not to say it’s more elegant, despite the elongated mid-section, but it’s certainly more modern and distinctive. Up front the familiar double kidney grilles are wider and shallower, and while the side window retains the Hoffmeister kink detail, there’s an especially bold swage line running down the car’s flanks.
It’s not nearly as dramatic inside though. As though the firm is keen to position the Coupe away from the 3 Series Saloon and Touring, it shares those cars’ dash. That’s not unforgivable; it’s sensibly laid out, impeccably built and features some incredibly clever detailing – it’s just not the event that we expected it’d be.
The good news about the car growing is that there’s suddenly more room for passengers – even if the BMW 435i remains a strict four seater. An extra 50mm in the wheelbase liberates an extra 11mm of legroom for rear passengers, and despite the lower bodywork there’s more headroom too – enough for a full grown adult to sit behind another for an extended period.
Up front the electrically adjustable leather covered heated sports seats combine with huge adjustment of the steering wheel to allow drivers to tailor their driving position perfectly. And though the 3 Series Saloon and Touring are more practical, the 435i Coupe will still swallow up to 445 litres of luggage in its well-shaped boot.
Performance & handling
We’re already very familiar with the 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol found in the BMW 435i, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less impressed by what it can do. For a start it makes 302bhp and 400Nm, the latter figure available from a barely-above-idle 1,200rpm. That endows this comfortable coupe with searing pace; with the eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted it’ll complete the 0-62mph dash in only 5.1 seconds – the manual takes a couple of tenths longer.
We’re already very familiar with the 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol found in the BMW 435i, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less impressed by what it can do.The BMW 4 Series use a new stiffer suspension mounting for the 45mm wider front track while the rear has been extended by 80mm – making the rear arches the widest part of the whole car. That translates into far more grip and sharper responses, front and rear, and with a 50/50 weight distribution the 435i is entirely neutral in its chassis balance.
BMW has focused on comfort for the 435i, but though it rides better than before and is more refined regardless of road speed, it’s still very much a true BMW and a joy to drive – either quickly or slowly.
Economy & environment
With the eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted it’ll complete the 0-62mph dash in only 5.1 seconds – the manual takes a couple of tenths longer.There’s a diesel model for those watching both the ozone layer and their wallet, which will return over 60mpg and get close to sneaking under the 120g/km threshold. But consider this 435i packs a mighty 300+bhp and 400Nm its figures of 169g/km and 39mpg are actually an impressive pairing.
Be aware that if you stick with the manual gearbox those figures worsen, but only by a shade. All come with the benefit of the firm’s Efficient Dynamics technology, so there’s electric power steering (which is one of the better ones), start/stop, brake energy regeneration and ECO Pro mode which offers the driver advice to ensure they are driving as economically as possible.
Equipment & value
We’d have liked a more dramatic interior to match the name, but in every other area this new 4 Series is far better than the 3.With a pricetag prefaced by the number four this 435i was never going to be a cheap car – though the range does start at a reasonable £28,280.
Still, the 435i Luxury comes loaded with standard kit including electrically adjustable leather seats, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav, metallic paint, M Sport suspension, multifunction sport steering wheel, xenon headlights, DAB radio, cruise control, Bluetooth and front and rear parking sensors. That’s not to say you can’t go mad with the options list, the 435i Luxury offering a number of different packages including the safety pack and Connected services grouping.
And BMW still offers its Service Inclusive packages which will take care of maintenance of the car for five years or 50,000 miles for around £400 for the basic package and just over £1,300 if you want consumables covered too.
Too new to be subjected to Euro NCAP’s tests, the safety body has subjected the firm’s mechanically and bodily similar 3 Series to a rigorous concrete barrier beating, and the good news is it came out near the top of its pile with five stars. Expect the 435i to achieve the same thanks to its multitude of airbags and clever safety systems.
BMW is completely confident that the new 4 Series represents a step forward over the previous 3 Series Coupe (hence the name change) and on this occasion it appears it has every right to be bullish. We’re still not entirely convinced by some of the proportions, and we’d have liked a more dramatic interior to match the name, but in every other area this new 4 Series is far better than the 3. More comfortable but arguably sharper than before, well-equipped, spacious and practical, frugal, efficient and quick there’re few other four seater coupes that can pull off the host of tricks the 435i does.
Model tested: BMW 435i Luxury
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six
Acceleration: 0-62 in 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Emissions: 169g/km CO2