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      07-17-2013, 05:43 PM   #1
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Arrow Our First Drive of the BMW 4 Series Coupe

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By David J. - July 17, 2013

Many BMW fans have been waiting for the F32 4 Series Coupe [full official details] to arrive. And arrive it has. We have recently driven the 435i Sport Line in Portugal - Lisbon and at the Estoril Track. It was a joy.

What I Loved?

The cliché holds true for 4 Series as it does with many BMWs - the styling looks so much better in real life than in 2D photos on a computer screen. As for the package? Besides all the standard qualities that make a BMW a BMW, the new 435i has some extras that put the car in the uber-klass when it comes to premium sporty coupes. What are those extras? HUD/drivers package, lane departure warning, LED headlights (not for US market yet) and more use of leather inside the car, together with the use of more two-tone colors throughout the car. Even some of the leather is of contrasting types by design - for instance on the seats and door cards.

But what everyone really wants to know about the 4 Series is how it drives, right? I really liked it. The ride quality is very good with the latest generation runflat tires (something that could not be said in past models). And the 435i coupe’s shock/spring valving is pretty darn good. It’s not until you encounter rough or pot-holed roads when the suspension get rough (in the Sport+ mode). For most of the road surfaces you’ll encounter, the suspension is a winner in my opinion.

The ZF-sourced eight speed automatic transmission is a true wonder. It shifts so quickly and without any violence or drama. It’s truly awesome. Even under brutally hard acceleration, it never fails to keep up. It just keeps providing clean crisp shifts at the bat of an eye. The transmission is perfectly mated to the N55 engine. Even at near 7K RPM shifts, the transmission and engine work as one, never failing to communicate properly. Nice work on this pairing BMW! Who but the most hardcore track warriors need DCT when an automatic can shift this fast.

Launch control is available for optimally quick launches from a stop. But, if you're looking for a nice blend of wheel slip to revs, I noticed that the best setting is Sport Plus with DTC turned off.

The N55 engine is equally up to the task in the 4 Series. It produces 300 hp / 300 lb-ft torque in 435i and powers the car from 0-60 in 5.0 sec (auto) / 5.3 sec (manual). The N55 engine serves up plenty of power throughout the power band. When you engage the Sport Plus mode, the DTC is deactivated while DSC remains active. Sport mode works the same, but with both safety nannies active. There is also ECO PRO to maximize fuel economy. When in ECO PRO, the transmission will shift into neutral to coast more often when you lift off the throttle and the engine profile changes to allow for a less responsive motor with less powerful acceleration on throttle inputs. When in ECO PRO mode the Navigation will also interact with the eco gauge, letting you know when you can start coasting (or "sailing" as BMW likes to call it). It's quite a cool feature to see in action. Plus it saves fuel, of course. Adding to its efficiency are the air curtains in the front bumper and the air breathers (located behind the wheels on the front fenders), which are both functional and work together to reduce turbulence.

As for the chassis, BMW engineers explained that the F32 has much more torsional rigidity over the E92. The 4 Series is 60% stiffer than the outgoing 3 Series Coupe. One main way that BMW achieved a significantly stiffer chassis was by use of beefier cross bracing under the front and rear suspension points. As for suspension changes compared to the F30 3 Series, the 4 Series shocks, springs and sway bars have all been retuned for a sportier driving experience.

I won't cover all the features of the very robust and advanced ConnectedDrive and Navigation as they are covered in plenty of details in the 4 Series press release, but one very cool feature I found while using the navigation is that a Driver's Package equipped car will have its steering wheel shake when you are about to miss your exit or turn.

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What I Didn't Love?

So... what did I not like as much? The steering and the brake action. The electric power steering (which has been tweaked from the F30) is just a bit too light for my preference. But, steering tends to be a bit of a subjective area in terms of 'lightness/heaviness'. In fact, my co-driver (another journalist) loved the steering. However, I think previous BMW owners (I currently drive a E82 1 Series) are used to the classic BMW steering feel of being slightly heavy and providing great feedback, instead of the slight light steering found on the 4 Series. Rest assured, it was not vague nor insensitive to input, but simply overly light and slightly lacking in providing feedback, at least compared to my E82. This is especially true in Comfort mode when the steering is at its lightest setting. In Sport or Sport Plus modes, the steering along with shock valving and throttle response all sharpen up - quite noticeably (for the better). In either Sport modes the steering is quite good, if a bit light.

As for the brakes, which are dual piston calipers in front and single piston calipers in the rear; while they were very effective as BMW brakes tend to be, the pedal effort was a lot lighter than I expected. Nothing bad, but different from what I was expecting coming from the E82. Pedal modulation and balance was fine and up to normal BMW standards.

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On the Track?

We were let loose on the Estoril Circuit in the 435i for a track evaluation (drifting prohibited however ). The 4 Series was good, damn good I thought. The perfect N55 / ZF 8 speed pairing shined even brighter driving the car at its limits. As for my earlier criticism of the steering and brake pedal feel, I felt them much less on the track with all settings cranked up for highest performance and throwing the car around. The 4 Series did not feel too big nor too small on the track and ably hit the proper apexes and exits. No brake fade (though we were limited in number of laps) and no limp mode experienced. And while the 435i is no M3 beater, it holds its own on the track and turned in some pretty darn fast runs. All of this comes as no real surprise. We all know (and have seen) the extensive Nuburgbring testing that the 4 Series underwent.

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What’s Sexy?

The 4 Series Coupe is. Whether you think the 4 Series name change is warranted or not, most of you would probably find it to be a sexy coupe in the flesh. I had this reaction immediately upon seeing the 435i in Sport Line trim. It’s definitely a sexier looker than the F30 sedan. No surprise, as the F32 coupe is significantly lower and wider than the F30 sedan – nearly 3 inches lower and 0.6 inches wider. The rear track is 1.5 inches wider on the 4 Series [see the F32 vs F30 specs comparo. This added rear track width really makes for an aggressive look. Overall, I am pleased how the new 435i turned out. It’s definitely a desirable sport coupe and I think BMW has likely scored another success.


Extra Notes on M Sport and M Performance Parts

BMW had both an M Sport and M Performance Parts equipped 4 Series models on display for us to check out. Both cars looked great and judging by the comments to those threads, it looks like BIMMERPOST members agree.

An interesting note about the M Sport 4 Series. The M Sport suspension will have the same ride height as the other standard models. The only models that will have a different ride height will be the xDrive models, which will ride slightly higher, and the M Performance Suspension fitted cars will sit 10mm lower. An M engineers shared his opinion that the M Performance Suspension is the perfect solution for both daily and sporty driving, although you do lose the adaptive shock control.

Also new for M Performance Parts on the 4 Series is an all alcantara dashboard, with matching door inserts and dash trim also in alcantara. The white M Performance 4 Series we showed you had every M Performance Parts fitted, except the M Performance seats. Those will be ready by year's end - sometime in November. See the full details/specs on the 4 Series M Performance Parts.

Be sure to also catch our 4 Series Q&A with answers to your frequently asked questions.

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Please see our photos and videos below.

4 Series Launch at Portugal

4 Series Coupes

435i Modern Line

435i Sport Line

435i Sport Line

N55 Engine

435i Sport Line

435i M Sport

435i M Performance

4 Series M Performance Parts

4 Series M Performance Parts Presentation




VIDEOS

Reving...








On the Estoril Circuit...




On the road...




Exterior...




Interior...

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      07-24-2013, 03:41 PM   #2
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New BMW performance seats?

You had my curiosity but now you have my attention!

Btw awesome review
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      07-24-2013, 03:52 PM   #3
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I'm disappointed in remarks about the steering...I thought they would at least make it just as heavy as the E92 since it's suppose to be "sporty."
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      07-24-2013, 04:00 PM   #4
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Great writeup, thanks for sharing.

I wonder how this translates to the steering for the M3/M4? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Those M performance wheels are insane!! I'm sure wheel insurance is a must if you spec your car with a set of those.
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      07-24-2013, 04:11 PM   #5
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utterly hate the front lower bumper on that silver car... from a distance it looks like it plowed something on the highway and is missing half of it
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      07-24-2013, 04:14 PM   #6
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whatever your feelings are for this car, it will be another BMW desirable success...

looks especially good in Estoril M Sport !
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      07-24-2013, 04:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdeerfield View Post
utterly hate the front lower bumper on that silver car... from a distance it looks like it plowed something on the highway and is missing half of it
i personnally love it how it looks like its "missing" half of it.... i think that was the intentions of the designers... ...
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      07-24-2013, 04:16 PM   #8
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Great review!


Best regards,
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      07-24-2013, 04:32 PM   #9
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Great write up, thanks.

No matter how many times I see this car, it just looks huge. I always criticized Audi for making "land yacht" sport coupes with the A5/S5, but it seems that is what the buyers want and I don't blame BMW for cashing in on that market.

It just looks like it should be a sedan, but it isn't.

I guess the upcoming 2 series is the new "3 coupe."
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      07-24-2013, 04:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by catalyst View Post
Great write up, thanks.

No matter how many times I see this car, it just looks huge. I always criticized Audi for making "land yacht" sport coupes with the A5/S5, but it seems that is what the buyers want and I don't blame BMW for cashing in on that market.

It just looks like it should be a sedan, but it isn't.

I guess the upcoming 2 series is the new "3 coupe."
Yeah I can't wait to compare the 2 and 4 in person. I just want to see them next to each other!!
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      07-24-2013, 04:43 PM   #11
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Thanks Dack for the write up! I think the car has a bit of a "over-bite" or something. I can't put my finger on it, but from a certain angle the front looks long and slender. Other than that...can't wait to drive one for myself.
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      07-24-2013, 04:43 PM   #12
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Couldn't agree more about seeing it in person. The F30 looks exponentially better in person. I hope I can restrain myself for at least another year, but I know once I start seeing them around all bets are off.
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      07-24-2013, 04:45 PM   #13
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Certainly more positive than Chris Harris's review!!

I still don't like the non-M Sport front but there seems to be a consistent "it looks better in the flesh" sentiment from those who have seen it.

Thanks for posting
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      07-24-2013, 04:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
LED headlights (not for US market yet)
confused...i thought the $1,900 Lighting Package contains full LED headlights? surely, the site is incorrect and you're not paying $1,900 just for automatic high beams?
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      07-24-2013, 05:19 PM   #15
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Safe to say that I'm not as excited about this as I was when the e92 came out. Looks nice but doesn't really impress me in any way
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      07-24-2013, 05:40 PM   #16
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Nice review, thanks for sharing your impressions .

Makes me even more eager for the M4

I am surprised about this statement though:

When in ECO PRO, the transmission will shift into neutral to coast more often when you lift off the throttle

I have always understood it is more economical for a drivetrain to stay in gear when coasting so the fuel supply to the engine can be shut down entirely. If neutral is engaged, then fuel is still required to keep the engine running at idle.

I could understand that, when in this "sailing" mode, the transmission shifts in 8th gear to minimize engine braking. But going into neutral leaves me a bit perplex...
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      07-24-2013, 05:48 PM   #17
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The M Sport version looks phenomenal. The other lines do not excite me too much however.
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      07-24-2013, 05:49 PM   #18
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i love my super light steering! Hate the heavy steering from the coupes.
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      07-24-2013, 06:05 PM   #19
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the best thing for the m performance is that it includes special seats..

u didn't tell us the differenet in the interior between 3 series and 4?? is it only the idrive, door trims and the additional black high gloss in near the cd player??
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      07-24-2013, 06:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanAutM3 View Post
Nice review, thanks for sharing your impressions .

Makes me even more eager for the M4

I am surprised about this statement though:

When in ECO PRO, the transmission will shift into neutral to coast more often when you lift off the throttle

I have always understood it is more economical for a drivetrain to stay in gear when coasting so the fuel supply to the engine can be shut down entirely. If neutral is engaged, then fuel is still required to keep the engine running at idle.

I could understand that, when in this "sailing" mode, the transmission shifts in 8th gear to minimize engine braking. But going into neutral leaves me a bit perplex...
Going into neutral helps drops the rpms to a minimum which in return consumes little while keeping the engine on since you are still driving and not just at a stand still.

Think of it this way. If you are driving on the highway and your rpms are at 3k, soon as you let off the rpms stay up there until the car slows down and even then the car will downshift, always keeping the rpms high which consumes gas.

Now if you coast in neutral you will save that much more gas. Not sure if its a significant amount. still something.
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      07-24-2013, 06:49 PM   #21
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Quote:
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i love my super light steering! Hate the heavy steering from the coupes.
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      07-24-2013, 07:10 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numba1guju View Post
i love my super light steering! Hate the heavy steering from the coupes.
The light steering in an F30 is weird ( but not bad ) when used to an E90. Initially feels like a computer game....
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