You can blame the Audi A5 for the new BMW 4-series. Once upon a time, a BMW 3-series saloon would arrive and then, a short time after, so would the 3-series Touring, followed by a 3-series coupé and, eventually, a 3-series convertible.

But the Audi A5 coupé, which brought with it significant differentiation from the A4 saloon on which it was based, has changed the dynamic of the market.

You might argue that a 3-series is classy enough for BMW to continue with a coupé that looks and feels just like it, except with two fewer doors. But things have inevitably changed with the inexorable rise of Audi

This, then, is the new BMW 4-series, and it’s no longer simply a slightly less practical and more desirable variant of the saloon, at least according to its maker. Instead, the two-door 3-series has been rebranded as a model in its own right, with its own dynamic and aesthetic appeal.

BMW has history in such exercises with body styles – witness the 6-series’ long-standing relationship to the 5-series – so it’s not an illogical step.

Is it an appealing one, though? We’ll find out later, but it’s worth remembering that this nameplate is imbued with all that made the 3-series a stand-out model in its class.

That means it shares the same basic underpinnings, but at 4638mm in length, 1825mm in width and 1362mm in height, the 4-series coupé is 26mm longer, 43mm wider and 16mm lower than its 3-series coupé predecessor. The wheelbase is up by 50mm to 2810mm, and the front and rear tracks are extended by 45mm and 81mm to 1545mm and 1593mm respectively.

It has a lower centre of gravity than any model in the current BMW range, but weight has grown marginally over the old Three coupé.

The BMW 4-series range features six engines. Petrol choices comprise the 181bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder 420i, the 242bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder 428i and the 302bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder 435i.

Diesel engines match the petrol range closely, with the 181bhp four-cylinder turbodiesel 420d, the 245bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder 430d and a 309bhp version of the same engine in the 435d.

The 435d is sold exclusively with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, a configuration available optionally on 420i and 420d models.

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week