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Thursday 6th December 2012


Official pics and more info on the new 3 Series coupe replacement

“We’re going to take a larger step,” says BMW big cheese Ian Robertson of the decision to rebrand the next generation 3 Series Coupe as the 4 Series.

67mm drop makes the 4 feel leaner & meaner
67mm drop makes the 4 feel leaner & meaner
Pictures of the new coupe leaked out yesterday, but PistonHeads was there for the official unveiling in Munich, and in the metal the 4 Series lives up to Robertson's promise with a much sportier and more aggressive look than 3 Series coupes of old. It’s a subtle but significant change; the 4 Series is to the 3 Series what the 6 is to the 5.

So there’ll be much shared mechanically between the saloon and the coupe. But where BMW’s recent saloon car styling has been sleek, conservative and evolutionary the coupes have adopted a distinct look of their own that’s much more aggressive and assertive. This makes sense when you look at the numbers – the 4 Series is 50mm longer in the wheelbase and 80mm wider in rear track than the outgoing E92. The wheelbase remains the same as the F30 four-door but it’s a little wider in the rear track (+11mm) and in fact 23mm longer than the saloon. It’s a whole 67mm lower though. Numbers only tell you so much though – in the metal the 4 Series looks seriously muscular, low slung and assertive with just enough reference to previous two-door BMWs to keep the lineage going without being stuck in the past.

Interior based largely on 3 Series, as is...
Interior based largely on 3 Series, as is...
With the 4 Series still officially a concept (yeah, right) the talk at the presentation was more of design than engineering but we did corner Adrian van Hooydonk to ask about those distinctive side vents. Decoration or more? “Efficient Dynamics can be an abstract notion,” he says, with typical flourish, “so we as designers can give it form, and our contribution to the need to reduce CO2 is in aerodynamics.” In other words, the vents do serve a purpose, extracting turbulent air from the wheelarches, while intakes in the bumper create a “curtain of air” over the spinning wheel. “It’s ornament and function combined in a very BMW way,” says head of design Karim Habib, also talking cryptically of the car’s ‘hip swing’ (nor us) and visual reinforcement of the rear-driven chassis through more muscular rear arches.

Job done on the styling front then.

...much of the front end.
...much of the front end.
The question burning on our lips is an obvious one though: does this mean the end of the M3? Logically the hot version of the 4 Series would be an M4 and four-door M3s have rarely been big sellers, were the badge to be reserved for the saloon. “M3 is an iconic name,” acknowledges Robertson with a fixed politician’s smile. “We have thought about that.”

He’s not saying any more than that though. So what do they do? Drop the M3 name? Apply it to the M version of the 4 Series? Or keep it for the four-door and create a new M4?

A dilemma for sure. One that won’t be resolved for a while yet either, with the 4 Series Concept making its public debut at Detroit in January and the run out for the current M3 promising more special versions to keep our interest piqued. A new CSL then? The man from M was notable by his absence. “Perhaps he is in the toilet?” said our host as the bigwigs were introduced. If he was he was certainly taking his time. Perhaps he was “still thinking about it.”

Author: Dan Trent
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