Driven - July 2017

We drive the updated BMW 4 Series

Updated BMW 4 Series Launch

Mpumalanga is known by many for a variety of reasons, it has vast greenness, a large canyon and is the home of the Kruger National Park. This location then, might seem like a strange location for a sports car launch, but what many people may not know is that Mpumalanga is also home to something else, great driving roads.

These great stretches of twisting and turning tarmac are fairly pivotal when testing a car built for sporty driving. I was excited, the thought of putting the updated BMW 4 Series through it’s paces for the day didn’t seem too shabby at all…

The updated BMW 4 Series doesn’t receive a major host of changes, rather small elements which come together in an all-round better package. This starts with the headlights, featuring a hexagonal design for the day time running lights which surround the LED beams. Rear lighting is also upgraded and is now an LED system, with both updates giving the BMW 4 Series a slightly sharper appeal. One will also find minor changes inside the cabin which spruce up the executive feel, helped along by three new upholstery colours and interior trim strips to choose from. The biggest change would be the optional navigation system which has the same interface as the BMW 5 and 7 Series’, large style control pads feature on the screen to control different elements, with each one receiving live updates and information.

Driving

Lined up outside Nelspruit airport were an array of BMW 4 Series in a variety of colours and engine specifications. The vast majority of the fleet were either 420i’s or 420d’s in Convertible, Coupé and GranCoupé form – as these are likely to be the most popular models. There was one 440i convertible glistening in the sunlight in the new Snapper Rocks Blue colour – an exclusive for the 4 Series range. My driving partner and I decided that we would not run for the 240 kW/450 N.m 440i, but we ended up with it anyway, so the roof went down, the neck heaters went on and off we went.

The first thing you will notice about the 440i compared to the other 4 series models is the noise, it purs on idle and growls under acceleration. It’s not mind blowing, and it certainly doesn’t compete with the Audi S5 in the volume department, but this doesn’t mean it’s not nice, because it is, especially when coupled with the sport auto gearbox with gives a delightful thump on the upwards gear change.

In terms of performance, the 440i is comfortably fast. It provides beautiful, linear power throughout the rev range and it feels very controllable. A big selling point for the 440i is that it can be driven easily and comfortably on the morning drive to work, but has enough in the tank to provide bucket loads of fun on the weekend – it’s definitely the middle ground if you’re looking to buy an M4, but your other half  says no.

As one would expect, the 440i has plenty of grip and gives confidence in the corners. The driver can really lean on the outer tyres when cornering without the worry of being spat out and sent tumbling down the side of a mountain pass. It’s not as sharp you might think though. Being the convertible model, it’s aimed more towards comfort than performance and does not receive the suspension upgrades that the Coupé and GranCoupé have.

After 200 km in the 440i, we swapped vehicles and jumped into a 420d Coupé for the remainder of our drive. Automatically, you may think that the 420d is the boring model in the range, aimed at the fuel economy enthusiast who drives miles everyday. While the latter may have some truth, it is certainly not a boring car to drive. It produces 140 kW and a mighty 400 N.m of torque which gives it some fantastic low down grunt. The power does fade after 4 000 rpm, but your aim isn’t to beat land speed records in this model, it’s to have a comfortable, quiet and economical vehicle in the guise of a sporty, stylish and tech savvy 4 Series. That being said, if you come across a twisty section of road, there is no doubt that you will have plenty of fun. As mentioned, the Coupé models have received suspension upgrades which give a sharper, more dynamic feel, especially across the front end.

Also sitting pretty at the launch was the updated BMW M4 in Competition Pack form. This model receives updates as well, with the adaptive full-LED headlights coming as standard, along with full LED lighting for the rear. Further to this, the BMW M4 also features the technology upgrades mentioned earlier, which are available across the range.

Overview

Although only minor changes, the updated BMW 4 Series range definitely offers a better all-round package in terms of style, comfort and performance. The 4 Series was a great car to begin with and bringing it up to date with the latest technologies was all the TLC it needed for now.

The 4 Series has a broad range with the 420d, 420i, 430i and 440i models all available, meaning that there is a good offering for a wide variety of people who may be interested.

Alternatives

Audi A5 – The updated Audi A5 launched earlier this year and offers a fantastic all-round package, as well as a great range of engines. It is definitely the more stealthy option, but does lose out a little on driving dynamics.

Mercedes Benz C-Class Coupé – Arguably, it may not compete when it comes to looks or style, but it does have driving comfort tucked firmly under its belt and years of Mercedes-Benz experience under the shell.

BMW 4 Series Pricing in South Africa

Coupé and GranCoupé 

420i – R604 794

420d – R639 300

430i – R692 992

M4 – R1 227 376

Convertible

420i – R718 250

430i – R831 476

M4 – R 1 441 302