What is it?
The past seven years have been kind to the BMW 4 Series.
Introduced with a good deal of fanfare in 2013, it has now recorded more than 800,000 sales worldwide, with nearly 150,000 of those in the UK, its second-biggest market behind the US. Its success is spread across three models – Coupé, Cabriolet and four-door Gran Coupé – and a range of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which have given it a broad appeal.
But the talk surrounding this new, second-generation 4 Series is not of the task it faces in living up to the sales performance of its predecessor or its new engines, which include the 369bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit of the range-topping M440i xDrive Coupé driven here, but of – yes, what else? – that grille. The 4 Series’ design has widely divided opinions but, like it or loathe it, there is more to the second-generation model than its controversial styling.
BMW says it has conceived the new 4 Series, known internally as the G22 in coupé guise, to be a more distinctive, stand-alone model with greater exclusivity than before and this is reflected in its controversial appearance and improved quality. In dimensions, too, the new model shifts further away from the model it replaces. It’s 128mm longer (at 4768mm), 27mm wider (1852mm) and 6mm taller (1383mm), giving it greater presence and a more sporting form than the car it replaces.
As with its predecessor, the new line-up starts with the Coupé, which has traditionally accounted for 33% of 4 Series sales in the UK. It will be followed next year by the new Cabriolet (17% of sales last time round) and Gran Coupé (50%). The new 4 Series shares its CLAR platform and electric architecture, including 48V capability, with the latest 3 Series. Its wheelbase has grown by 41mm to 2851mm and, as part of efforts to provide it with a more sporting feel, its tracks are wider than the previous 4 Series’, at 1575mm (28mm wider) at the front and 1611mm (18mm wider) at the rear.
Crucially, for keen drivers, the new model’s centre of gravity is also 21mm lower than the first-generation 4 Series’, model for model. This has been achieved partly through a new material mix, with aluminium now used for the bonnet, front wings, doors and front suspension.