RE: BMW 4 Series: Review

RE: BMW 4 Series: Review

Friday 19th July 2013

BMW 4 Series: Review

Bye bye 3 Series coupe, hello 4 Series - Harris gets acquainted



The video that will eventually accompany this story is going to be an even bigger shambles than usual. It's all over the place, or rather the presenter is all over the place. One minute I'm whinging about how dull the new 4 Series is, the next it's slewing about Estoril like we're on a track day for people with an endless tyre budget with some yelping berk procrastinating on matters of rear-driven excellence.

It's the new 3 Series Coup- damn, no, 4 Series
It's the new 3 Series Coup- damn, no, 4 Series
As I write this on the plane flying home I'm wondering what it all means. I think it might be quite complicated. Then again it could be very simple.

The 4 Series is a 3 Series coupe. I was too busy being hormonal to ask why BMW saw fit to change the name after 30 years of calling it that, but have to assume it is bound up in words such as 'niche', 'identity' and 'those gits at Audi'. Call it BMW's Oil of Ulay moment. Despite encroachment from Audi, Mercedes and the rest, the 3 Series Coupe (it's going to take me time to get used to this '4' thing) has always been the benchmark prestige, usable two-door coupe. With that status comes a set of expectations which can cause havoc for people like me.

'Those gits at Audi'
I have always seen this car as the sensible choice; albeit one which carries with it the credibility of rear-wheel drive and exceptional dynamics. The image has always been a problem, the way it drives never has been. So why does it comes as a surprise to spend the first hour in a new 435i (it doesn't even look right when you type it, does it?) and wonder how on earth a company like BMW can fashion something so bloody dull from ingredients such as 306hp, rear-wheel drive and stiffer bodyshell than a 3 Series. Saloon. Here's the full press pack.

Lower and a bit meaner than the saloon
Lower and a bit meaner than the saloon
But wasn't it ever thus? I remember reading about the E36 325i coupe in 1993. Articles littered with adjectives dancing around notions of respect and admiration. Just buy the Corrado if you want to have fun.

BMW doesn't want this thing to tear around too much, that's going to be the job of the M4 (try and tell me that doesn't look profoundly wrong), leaving the 435i a potentially minute seller in Europe. So why didn't I test the 428i or the 420d? Because that wouldn't do massive slides at Estoril of course.

That bloody 1 Series
Some observations about the 435i Sport on the road. With the optional adaptive dampers in Comfort, the ride is good to promising. In Sport it's quite harsh. The motor has a real zing to it, but as someone who spent a week in an M135i very recently this car feels a little flat afterwards. BMW decided to reduce the power and torque for the base car (there's some aftermarket bits to discuss soon) leaving a machine that is both heavier and less lusty than its baby upstart. The 435i enjoys the same glorious smoothness from the blown straight-six and the optional ZF eight-speed, and the noise is decidedly expensive, but it never quite manages to feel quick enough to make you grin at the silliness of it all. Whereas the last 335i had more than a whiff of Q about it, this one somehow doesn't. Blame that entirely on the aforementioned 1 Series.

Playing it a bit safe though? Discuss...
Playing it a bit safe though? Discuss...
The dynamics, curiously enough, are 3 Series plus six per cent. Everything is a little better supported, more accurate and firmer. The car sits 10mm lower, and the seat is actually 9mm lower, so the overall effect is one of being in something quite a bit more serious than the 3 Series. BMW claims that the 4 Series has the lowest centre of gravity within its model range.

The cabin is a mixture of the utterly predictable and the slightly worrying. First up is the now customary electric presentation arm which protrudes forwards to hand you the seat belt. It's a disaster. Sometimes it lunges and misses like a drunken man, other times you grab it and the belt rolls-over itself within the buckle . You know the one: you give it a yank to free it and the b*stard gets wedged.

'No drifting'
The rest is pure, generic BMW. Utterly familiar, superbly executed and now free from Bangle's influence. The iDrive dial has a touch pad on it for scrolling around the nav and other widgets. I suspect it takes a more delicate touch than mine.

'Drunken' seat belt thingy just out of shot
'Drunken' seat belt thingy just out of shot
Rear leg room is fine, but limited if your driver is a fast bowler. The boot is a good size and the luggage net can be dragged over several large bags. I know: the details we discover for the PH massive.

Yep, you drive along in the 435i (wrong, wrong - still wrong) suffused with admiration for the inner workings of BMW. This is as painless as 40-something-thousand pound motoring can ... hang-on, ยฃ40K shouldn't be painless. It should be life-affirming! So I trundled into Estoril Circuit wondering if BMW's finely judged sense of the ordinary being quietly underpinned by conspicuous talent had been disturbed. Did ordinary actually mean boring?

Yeah right
Those lingering doubts were nourished by the man giving the briefing ending it with a request of 'no drifting'. What's the world coming to? It's a ****ing 300hp BMW. If it doesn't oversteer it might as well be a ****ing Audi. Besides, telling a man not to oversteer is like telling a teenage boy not to leer at women's breasts.

Hides its true talents on the road
Hides its true talents on the road
It shouldn't have, but the 435i rather came alive on the circuit. Not because it has any great track pretensions - in circuit terms it's too loose, ungrippy and lacking brakes to lap for long - but because it finally had a chance to show itself. Know that mate who, once every 10 years cuts loose on the dry sherry and delivers a virtuoso performance of drunkenness? That's the 435i. You have to delve deep, and you'll need to be on a circuit, which is of course completely irrelevant to the way the car will be used, but there you will find the heart of a real BMW. How did Sir Humphry describe Radio 3? No one listens to it, but we just need to know it's there.

'A bit Rich Tea'
Perhaps this is why BMW will sell you bits from its M Performance accessories to harden your 435i (not getting any easier). First on the list is the M Performance Power Kit. It gives another 34hp and 37lb ft. M135i owners beware. You can have a limited-slip differential, larger front brakes, and a set of front and rear bumpers glistening with carbon. I'm trying to get some prices for this lot, but throw everything at the 435i (nope) and you end up with something quite different to the standard car. I suspect - because I've yet to drive one. But the presence on the launch event of a white display car, festooned with all this kit and a ruddy great black stripe does suggest that BMW knows the standard offering is a bit Rich Tea.

Can still steer from the rear though...
Can still steer from the rear though...
I have huge admiration for this car. It would be a fine companion over a several years and I think BMW has been very astute in offering some aftermarket trinkets for those who want added dynamism. Best of all, as a 420d (it's still not happening for me) many people will enjoy a level of chassis sophistication that separates the ordinary from the excellent.

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BMW 435i
Engine:
2,979cc 6-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual/8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 306@5,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@1,200-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.4sec (auto 5.1sec)
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,585kg (auto 1,600kg, both EU)
MPG: 35.7 (auto 39.2; NEDC combined)
CO2: 185g/km (auto 169g/km)
Price: TBC

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Author
Discussion

Goatex

Original Poster:

164 posts

117 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Think the 2 series badging will be even harder to stomach as there will invariably be some Rover overlap.

g3org3y

17,784 posts

161 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Agree with the 4 Series name, just sounds wrong. I suppose BMW are doing their best to distance the coupe from the saloon and justify the premium.

article said:
You can have a limited-slip differential
Proper mechanical jobbie?

Is this even available as an option for the M135i (I thought it wasn't)?

JamesHayward

655 posts

134 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
What concerns me is the ineviatble M car could be called the M4... just doesn't work. They might as well call the inevitable slow version the M25.

Amirhussain

11,360 posts

133 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
JamesHayward said:
What concerns me is the ineviatble M car could be called the M4... just doesn't work. They might as well call the inevitable slow version the M25.
M3 will come though, the saloon model, just the coupe will be called M4, no longer the M3, ssame st different name really.

monthefish

20,018 posts

201 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Nice write up (and good to see the press pack too)


the article said:
First up is the now customary electric presentation arm which protrudes forwards to hand you the seat belt. It's a disaster. Sometimes it lunges and misses like a drunken man, other times you grab it and the belt rolls-over itself within the buckle . You know the one: you give it a yank to free it and the b*stard gets wedged.
Think this is one of the biggest warranty claims for BMW.

Mine broke and got it fixed under warranty, but trying to describe it over the phone was a bit tricky:

"you know the thing that sticks out of the side trim after you close the door, and sometimes brings the seatbelt with it"
"Yes, sir. The handover" (with a tone suggesting he's been through this many, many times)
"That what??? Anyway, it's fecked. Can you fix it?"
"yes sir"

va1o

15,957 posts

177 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Seriously impressive figures, particularly given the power and weight. Suspect they won't be selling too many manuals either as the auto seems to do far better in every measurable way. Don't like the name though, reminds me of an old Rover too
much. Debadging would be essential!

BalhamBadger

1,157 posts

143 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
It should have the increased power and torque from the off. I wonder how many £k they charge for uploading a different map.

trunks82

252 posts

168 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
I have literally never heard of this so called electic presentation arm.is it a new thing?

folos

900 posts

112 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
I welcome the M4 purely because it'll bring down E92 M3 prices. Which is good for everyone smile (except current owners)

Schnellmann

1,893 posts

174 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Can't believe it has the same power as the outgoing model (making it slower than the M135i). BMW missing a trick there.

Overall like the looks except the front spoiler.

mrclav

799 posts

193 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Everyone alluding to the M4 in relation to names of British motorways needs to stop being so myopic - this car is going to be known around the world as the M4, for the most part this means very little to other countries.

I'm actually glad BMW have seen fit to rename the coupe with a "4" designation - the game has moved on and niche marketing is where it's at now. So what if they used another name for 30 years? They're 100% within their rights to change it if they see fit! If it affects their bottom line then I'm sure we'll see the return of the old name but if they continues to profit as they have done before then why should anyone really care? It's only a name!

trackdemon

11,063 posts

231 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
g3org3y said:
Proper mechanical jobbie?

Is this even available as an option for the M135i (I thought it wasn't)?
Yup. Not available on M135i, although Birds will happily sell you one aftermarket

trackdemon

11,063 posts

231 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
So, did you get a bking for doing big skidz? hehe

Repent

358 posts

143 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
I feel the colour doesn't flatter, but those exhausts look pretty awful. Concepts are inherently toned down when they reach the production line but what a cop out...







Edited by Repent on Friday 19th July 18:14

cerb4.5lee

20,427 posts

150 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
monthefish said:
Nice write up (and good to see the press pack too)


the article said:
First up is the now customary electric presentation arm which protrudes forwards to hand you the seat belt. It's a disaster. Sometimes it lunges and misses like a drunken man, other times you grab it and the belt rolls-over itself within the buckle . You know the one: you give it a yank to free it and the b*stard gets wedged.
Think this is one of the biggest warranty claims for BMW.

Mine broke and got it fixed under warranty, but trying to describe it over the phone was a bit tricky:

"you know the thing that sticks out of the side trim after you close the door, and sometimes brings the seatbelt with it"
"Yes, sir. The handover" (with a tone suggesting he's been through this many, many times)
"That what??? Anyway, it's fecked. Can you fix it?"
"yes sir"
I had mine fixed under warranty too on my M3, it does seem a common problem...but I did miss it when it didn't pass it me when it was broken!

Howard-

4,563 posts

172 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
JamesHayward said:
What concerns me is the ineviatble M car could be called the M4... just doesn't work. They might as well call the inevitable slow version the M25.
confused

Why doesn't it work? Because it's new?

Every other M car has its own "motorway version"..

sinbaddio

1,792 posts

146 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
monthefish said:
Think this is one of the biggest warranty claims for BMW.

Mine broke and got it fixed under warranty, but trying to describe it over the phone was a bit tricky:

"you know the thing that sticks out of the side trim after you close the door, and sometimes brings the seatbelt with it"
"Yes, sir. The handover" (with a tone suggesting he's been through this many, many times)
"That what??? Anyway, it's fecked. Can you fix it?"
"yes sir"
These beauties work perfectly on my 21 year old w124 coupe.....

161BMW

1,598 posts

135 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
The name change is rather silly.
I suppose at least all the high revving NA 3 Series Coupe / 2 door saloons are called M3 :-). The proper BMWs :-)

P4ROT

1,217 posts

163 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
I don't think the m135i is the bargain it once was. A salesman at the Goodwood BMW stand was trying to explain to me why it is now priced at 35k instead of 29k. Basically, they've advertised it as a bargain (i.e. under 30k and near the gti), but demand has been better than expected; having found themselves snookered, they have added some (compulsary) options, to increase the price. HMMMFF...

green-blood

147 posts

209 months

Friday 19th July 2013
quotequote all
Just order it debadged and glue on an ebay 335i badge.

sorted