Luttrestown Castle has launched many a celebrity marriage in its time, but recently it was BMW’s turn to launch their replacement for the 3 Series coupé.
Introducing the 4 Series, a new name intended to distance the coupé from its saloon siblings and allow it to move upmarket.
To look at, it’s clear where the 4 Series gene pool lies. It’s recognisably based on the recently introduced 3, but it’s longer, lower and sleeker. Every panel has been changed and it’s undeniably a sleek design which will impress wherever it goes.
To drive, it’s the same BMW experience we’ve come to know, with excellent ride, steering and handling.
I drove the 420d, which is expected to take the lion’s share of sales and it represents the base model until the arrival of the 420i petrol, later this year.
It’s a responsive, economical engine, producing 184 bhp. Curiously, just like the saloon, I found myself slightly disappointed with outright performance on my debut drive. No doubt like the saloon, over time, that feeling will pass. On a longer test of the 2.0 litre diesel saloon, I never found the performance wanting.
The coupé has a lovely, well-crafted interior and comes as standard with heated leather seats, dual zone climate control, cruise control, dab radio, iDrive with 6.5″ screen, bluetooth, usb and sports seats on all but the base model.
At the launch, we had the 420d, and a 428i, powered by a 2.0 litre twin turbo petrol unit. Also available from launch is a 435i. Later this year, the range will be filled out with the addition of the 420i, 420d xDrive, 430d and 435d xDrive. Both six cylinder diesels come with automatic transmission only, the 435d only being available with xDrive.
xDrive is BMW’s four wheel drive system, which might seem a departure, although they have been selling four wheel drive saloons for years in left hand drive markets. It’s a particularly efficient system, adding only 6 g/km co2 in the 420d. It attracts a premium of €2,250 over an identically specced rear wheel drive equivalent.
A six speed manual transmission is standard across the range, with BMW’s ultra-efficient eight speed auto also available. The expectation is that 80-90% of buyers will choose the auto. No surprise there, given that it’s both more efficient and economical than the manual gearbox.
Prices start at €47,130 for the 420d SE, an increase of around €700 over the outgoing 3 series coupé although it comes with around €2,000 of extra standard equipment. Although I’ll need a longer drive to confirm, I reckon the 4 series goes straight to the top of the class.
The launch event was actually one of BMW’s regular model updates, so we also had the newly facelifted 5 series, now available in a 518d version, with standard automatic across the range. Mini also had their John Cooper Works GP on hand to drive, which proved to be an absolute hoot. A hot hatch in the old tradition, it really is a car for enthusiasts though, given that the rear seat is entirely taken up with a roll cage.
There wouldn’t even be room for the shopping.
Motoring editor - The Clare Champion
Former Chairman and voting member of Irish Motoring Writers' Association