BMW takes Coupe down a different road
BMW's new 4-series Coupe is a new stand-alone model which takes over from the 3-series Coupe. Here's the report and verdict.
First drive: BMW 4-series coupe
On the road - The look
It is more muscular – less glass, more metal – than the 3-series Coupe and the roof is sharply crescented and lower.
BMW has made a virtue of necessity and created a triangular rear-side window that gives loads of over-the-shoulder visibility.
Even with overhangs cut, it looks bigger and longer than the 26mm it says it has stretched.
It has beefed up rear-wheel arches so you get something of a sports-car look.
Those arches now mark the spot where the car is broadest (43mm wider).
The front seats (really supportive) tilt and slide a long way forward leaving a decent gap to climb into the back.
Head room at the front is fine. The rear seat bench is divided in two and sloped so your bum is lower than your knees.
Forget the back if you are over 6ft. My head was jammed against the sharply sloping roof (16mm lower) although I had good knee room.
Put the young ones in there. Or the tall mother-in-law. They get 30mm more rear legroom because the wheelbase is 50mm longer.
From the driver's seat it is a 3-series saloon, apart from some minor trim changes – nice dash, clear instruments and iDrive infotainment system.
The 435i I drove had red leather upholstery and decent quality red plastic across parts of the dash. I know, it sounds horrible, but for some reason it works.
You don't have to be told the car is lower. I knew it the second I sat in. No bother getting a good seating position.
On open roads the 435i (0-100kmh in 5.1 seconds) with 8spd auto box (and paddles on the steering wheel) slipped quietly into serious speed (if it were in Ireland).
Where the 3-series Coupe was favoured by women, this could accommodate male egos too.
Then we took to twisty, hilly roads, poor camber, rougher surfaces, the sun shining. The wider track and low centre of gravity stood it in good stead. It gripped, stayed level, the rear wheels didn't get out of line on the hairpins, where I wasn't fair to it by braking too late and accelerating too early.
And I had fun with the paddle gears. Down to second, hit the accelerator on the apex, away like a shot.
I know, I know, the 435i will barely register here, but isn't it great to know the suspension and tyres can take that sort of punishment?
Despite all that I craved far more feel from the steering. It was accurate and placed the car where I wanted it. But it didn't let me know with nearly enough feedback. I wanted it to give me the sense of grip it was accomplishing out there. A big enough failing on a car of this profile.
This let me push grip and chassis (body is 60pc stiffer) to the edge of slippage, especially on a great big fast right-hander that seemed to go forever.
The 435i tied up the rear a few times with my eejiting but never lost control. I just wanted more steering feel.
You'll never drive it like that here and anyway you'll almost certainly take the diesel.
This car is more direct in looks and drive. The low centre of gravity makes it a coupe trying to be a sports car. For most people that will be enough. There's enough there for a decently nippy drive while it is still sufficiently mannerly not to scare off existing buyers. But I still want the steering giving me more feedback.