What is it?
BMW UK’s roll out of four-wheel-drive models continues apace with this, the 435d xDrive. Tested here in M Sport guise, at £45,040 it’s the pinnacle of the non-M BMW 4 Series range in both performance and price. It’s also the one variant in the range that is only available with all four wheels connected to the engine.
Then again, with 467lb ft of torque straining at the leash, in inclement weather you might just be thankful for that.
The xDrive system consists of a central, electronically controlled, multi-plate wet clutch to split torque, acting on signals from the DSC and ABS systems. The default torque split is 40:60, front-rear, but as much as 100 per cent of available torque can be sent to either axle.
What's it like?
The full-strength 3.0-litre oil burner needs no introduction. With 309bhp and that aforementioned grunt it endows the 435d with addictive performance: 0-62mph is quoted at just 4.7 seconds and predictably, it barges into the limiter at 155mph (and all for 143-146g/km C02 and 50.4-52.3mpg, depending on tyre choice).
The reality is relentless acceleration, delivered with the usual gruff BMW diesel ‘six note kept just far enough away. The engine’s rev range is surprising: you really can hang onto gears in the excellent 8-speed auto ‘box. Predictably, the traction benefits are most obvious during hard acceleration on slippery surfaces and at the exit of a corner, where – with DSC off - the 435 is more likely to exhibit gentle power understeer than suddenly snap into a torque-heavy drift.
Whether that’s a good thing or not depends entirely on your personal viewpoint, but this BMW coupé really spits out of curves with grim determination.
The 435d will effortlessly blast from one side of Europe to the other, using surprisingly little fuel given the performance, but it’s a rather aloof car to know. Yes, it corners flatly with impressive lateral grip, but like other variants in the range this 4-series is more GT than sports car. It can’t quite shake off the feeling of mass.
At 1,700kg it’s got some bulk to haul around - just under 100kg more than a rear-driven 4 Series – but the main culprit is the steering, which resolutely denies you any sense of what’s happening down at the front wheels, nor reassures by adding much weight with lock applied. Combine that with outstanding refinement (granted, a positive attribute, and it rides well too on adaptive dampers) and you’ve got a car that keeps the driver deliberately distanced from the action.
Inside, the ambience is entirely predictable, but if you’re not too concerned with the wow factor it’s a fine place to spend time, thanks to excellent ergonomics, clear instrumentation and a low-slung driving position notably racier than that of a 3 Series. Kit levels are high, as you’d hope at the price, although there’s plenty of potential to spend more.
Should I buy one?
As you’ve probably gathered, the 435d xDrive M Sport is unlikely to make the forthcoming M4 feel threatened.
Nevertheless, it’s a subjectively handsome machine, with a broad spread of talents that holds undeniable all-year-round appeal. For that alone, it warrants further investigation and may just prove bothersome to similarly spec'd Audi A5s.