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The BMW 4-Series coupe is lower and wider than the 3-Series sedan. (Richard Russell for The Globe and Mail)
The BMW 4-Series coupe is lower and wider than the 3-Series sedan. (Richard Russell for The Globe and Mail)

First Drive BMW 4-Series Coupe

New BMW 4-Series is more than equal to 3 Add to ...

The wait for the new BMW 3-Series coupe will be over in October when the 2014 BMW 4-Series Coupe crosses the Atlantic. Based on the sixth-generation 3-Series sedan introduced for the 2013 model year, the new coupe will wear the 4-Series designation as part of BMWs move to use odd numbers for sedans and even numbers for coupes.

The 2014 4-Series coupe shares the same platform, has the same wheelbase and overall length as the current 3-Series sedan, but it is lower, wider and boasts a number of updates and changes suitable for its sportier image. The widest point of the car is now at the rear wheel wells. The track, both front and rear, is wider. The centre of gravity the lowest of any BMW product on offer and the weight distribution a perfect 50/50. This is indeed a new model.

The 2014 4-Series coupe will come in 428i and 435i designations at prices ranging from $45,000-$56,000, before options. Both are available with a new version of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

The engines are shared with the sedan. Both use twin turbos, variable valve timing and direct injection. The 428i’s four-cylinder powerplant produces 245 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque while the six-cylinder 435i has 306 horses and 295 lb-ft on offer. The 428i comes with a six-speed manual transmission (an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is a $1,600 option). The 428i x-Drive is only available with the automatic. The automatic is standard equipment on the 435i and 435i x-Drive but the manual gearbox is a no-charge option. All engines come with automatic stop-start to shut the engine down when at rest for more than a second and brake energy regeneration is also standard on all models.

The coupe has the traditional long-hood, short-deck, sloped-glass profile with minimal overhangs. The differences between it and the sedan are plentiful, starting up front where the traditional twin kidney-shaped grill is flanked by standard round Xenon headlights or hexagonal LED headlights.

Look closely at the small air intakes alongside the fog lights in the lower valance. These air curtains feed air into the wheel wells and is extracted by a pair of boomerang-shaped air breather on the front fenders aft of the wheels. While the latter may look like some kind of tacked-on bling, they are functional and help smooth airflow and contribute to the coupe’s low co-efficient of drag and its ability to slip through the air with minimal disturbance and noise.

The side view of the new coupe features frameless glass, a pair of parallel swage lines running the full length of the car and the traditional Hofmeister kink at the C-pillar. The wheels are new – 18-inch or 19-inch alloys depending on model and trim.

At the rear, the broad tail lamps help emphasize the car’s width. As well as the model designation appearing on the trunk lid, you can differentiate the 428 from the 435 by the location of the twin exhaust outlets – alongside each other at the left on the four-cylinder model and at opposite sides on the six.

The interior is a delightful place to spend some time on the heavily contoured seats, especially if you are the one behind the sport steering wheel. Upon startup, a motorized “valet” moves the belts forward so they are easy to reach. The dash is typical BMW, with both major and minor controls easy to reach and decipher.

The flat screen monitor used for the infotainment and other displays is a bit awkward, looking like an afterthought sticking up out of the dash. But it is highly visible and easily configured with the iDrive controller atop the console. An optional two-tone trim livens up the otherwise drab cockpit, wrapping around the car from door to door.

The back of the rear seat is split 40/20/40, allowing a number of different added-cargo configurations. You can gain access to the trunk through the key fob, a handle or by sliding your foot sideways under the bumper if the car has the optional Comfort Access package.

The 428i comes with the Sport Line package as standard equipment. It consists of high-gloss exterior trim details and red accents in the interior. The 435i comes with the M-Sport package with unique lower body add-ons, 19-inch wheels, sport seats and M-specific steering wheel, left foot rest and door sill trim. An M-Performance package is also available that adds upgraded brakes, adaptive suspension and variable ratio steering. One rung further up that ladder is the M Performance Package II, which puts 26 more horses under the hood.

In addition to the expected power assist for windows, seats lock and mirrors, other standard equipment across the range includes a full-colour heads-up display. The twisty roads and mountain passes between Lisbon and Cascais provided proof that modifications to such things as camber angle, roll centre, spring and shock absorbers and the addition of a special strengthening member in the front subframe paid off. The 4-Series coupe was obviously developed to be driven by people who like to drive. There is an level of agility and accuracy in what is a fairly large car.

We also got in a dozen or so unrestricted hot laps on the Estoril Grand Prix course. Here the car’s low centre of gravity and ideal weight distribution came to the fore, as did the powerful brakes and the poke from the six – 0-100 in 5.4 seconds. No four-cylinder versions were available.

There may be those who will criticize the 4-Series coupe’s larger dimensions. But a few minutes behind the wheel should quickly dispense any concern BMW has lost its way.

Tech specs

2014 BMW 428i and 435i

Base Price: $44,900 for 428i; $49,000 for 428i xDrive; $54,900 for 435i; $55,600 for 435i xDrive

Engine: 2.0-litre, twin-turbo, DOHC, four-cylinder in 428i; 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, DOHC, V-6in 435i

Horsepower/torque: 245 hp/258 lb-ft for four

306 hp/295 lb-ft for V-6

Transmission: Six speed manual or eight-speed automatic

Drive: Rear- or all-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.7 city/5.4 highway (428i automatic); premium gas

Alternatives: Audi A5, Cadillac CTS


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