Tuesday 10 December 2019

The 3-Series Coupe is no more, but will new 4-Series measure up in this cut-throat segment?

Philip Hedderman

When BMW announced that the 3-Series Coupe was to be replaced by its very own brand we weren't one bit surprised. In fact, the only thing puzzling us was why it took so bloody long?

You see, the Bavarian car giant was merely playing catch-up with its country cousins and we fear may just have been a little too cautious.

The term “you snooze .... you lose” couldn't be more apt here but then again so would “better late than never.”

Yes, Audi were first out of the blocks with the mighty A5 – a sporty two-door coupe based on the A4 – which proved so successful, a 4-door version called the Sportback quickly followed.

Now, the Vorsprung Durch Technik team may have won that particular battle but the war is far from over and BMW have come out fighting. At the launch of the 4-Series, we were told that this is not a rebranding exercise – it was in fact, a whole new experience.

Take the body for example, it's longer (14mm), lower (62mm), wider (14mm) and lighter (25kgs) than its predecessor. Design-wise it is simply stunning – almost a perfect mix between the Z4 Roadster and rear end of a 6-Series.

Every single panel on the new offering is different with only the bonnet (minus the nose) shared by the two models.

M-Sport styling is evident almost everywhere starting with the awesome air curtains under the front grille and side gills which channel the air around the front wheels, reducing drag.

Sweeping back to the rear the massively flared wheel arches dominate giving a bit of a throwback to the last  generation M3.

Inside it's a little less exciting with pretty much the same cabin as the tried-and-tested saloon.

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As with the 3-series the build quality is top notch although not as good as Audi but the ‘sameness’ in the cockpit may leave some  customers feeling    a little short changed. Standard kit is generous though and includes 17 inch alloys, Xenon headlights, leather upholstery, heated seats (front) air con, parking sensors and Bluetooth/USB connectivity.

Boasting the lowest centre of gravity of all BMWs this coupe also has the option of Adaptive M-Sport suspension promising unrivalled ride and handling.

Couple that with a spunky enough 181bhp diesel engine and you have the recipe for real fun.

And  it didn't disappoint.

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Hit Sport+ on the drive select, slip into flappy paddle mode, drop the hammer and let the magic unfold. The 0-100kph takes around 7.5 seconds but the seemingly endless supply of torque and power and crisp throttle response leaves one doubting this is in fact an oil burner.

The steering is precise while being light at the same time with oceans of grip and plenty of feedback.

It’s clinically Germanic, but not necessarily in a good way.

Yes, it ticked all the right boxes and did everything we asked it to do but something is missing. Dare I say it but the 4-Series left us feeling a bit cold.

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For a car that looks so stunning it seriously lacked character.

That smidgen of danger, a tinge of unpredictability to keep you on your toes just wasn’t there.

The very thing that made the old 3- Series coupe special has been somehow lost in the mix.

A great pity.

We’ll just have to wait for the M4.

Prices start from €45,180.

The 42D M Sport Auto we tested came in at €51,948.

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