Familiarity has failed to make the Autocar road test jury fans of this car’s styling. The new frontal aspect, with its arrowhead bonnet creases and that new grille, is intended to engender a new-found sense of confidence and a refreshed distinctiveness. But it’s the deficit of the consistency, simplicity and restraint seen on the best-looking modern BMW coupés that we regretted most.

The car’s surfaces mix bulbousness and fussiness; its rear quarters lack both proportion and definition; and its Hofmeister kink can only be described as ‘absent, presumed missing’.

BMW’s trademark Hofmeister C-pillar has been dispensed with, and the rising beltline meets the roofline at an awkward angle. Have the convertible version and this needn’t bother you

There is better news for those prepared to look beneath the skin, but even that search requires persistence. To begin with, that this car has grown so much in comparison to the first-gen 4 Series isn’t the greatest of omens. It’s a significant 128mm longer, as well as both wider and taller than the F32-generation car. The last-gen 435i M Sport weighed 1640kg when we tested it in 2013. This new one has hit 1775kg.

For those looking for points of difference relative to the 3 Series, however, there are plenty to find. A lower body profile gives the 4 Series a centre of gravity that is 21mm closer to the ground than that of the equivalent 3 Series, while the chassis gets specific structural reinforcements. The 4 Series also has wider axles than a 3 Series and retuned springs, dampers, mountings and anti-roll bars.

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BMW’s latest-generation, twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine powers the 188bhp 420d. And what that engine has in common with the 369bhp twin-scroll turbocharged petrol 3.0-litre straight six here in the M440i is that they both use a 48V mild-hybrid electrical assistance system for extra efficiency, as well as for the odd hit of up to 11bhp.

A 2.0-litre 420i petrol with 181bhp and a 2.0 430i with 255bhp are also available, but neither with the new 48V electrical system.

All versions of the car use BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic torque-converter automatic gearbox from ZF, but whereas the four-cylinder models are rear-wheel drive as standard and, in some cases, four-wheel drive as an option, the six-cylinder cars like this one get BMW’s natively rear-driven xDrive four-wheel drive system as standard.

M Sport mechanical specification is the jumping-off point for ownership in the UK, which means most UK cars will come with BMW’s stiffened suspension springs and passive ‘lift-related’ dampers, along with a reinforced frontal structure and variable sports steering. Higher-end engines get BMW’s uprated M Sport brakes to boot, and if you go all the way up to either M Sport Pro Edition or M Performance trim levels, adaptive dampers become part of the package.

Being an M440i, our test car had the latter, as well as BMW’s torque-vectoring rear differential as standard (which can also be added to a 430i or 430d as a cost option).