Wednesday, March 12, 2014

4 This Moment - Driving the BMW 435i Coupe.

 photo P1170321.jpg Launched towards the tail end of 2013, the BMW 4 Series represents the first car to breakaway from BMW's traditional naming nomenclature. With all sedans and "practical" cars taking on odd numbers while more "lifestyle" oriented cars are blessed with even numbers.  photo P1170304.jpg Taking this approach might seem sacrilegious to most enthusiast of the marque, especially when it concerns the 3 Series (which started out in Coupe form in the first place), but it does allow BMW to spread their wings out even more, enabling them the option to create a full range of cars based on a single model or platform. Beyond the PR or marketing hijinks though, beats the heart and soul of what we all know is the new 3 Series Coupe.  photo DSC00492.jpg  photo DSC00476.jpg Aesthetically, BMW's quintessential Coupe has always been a beautifully restrained work of art and it's latest evolution continues that trend. Everything here has been tapered, sharpened and stretched to give the F32 a much more striking silhouette compared to the Sedan it spawned from.  photo P1170203.jpg I'm speculating here but i'm of the opinion that given a new nameplate, BMW's designers probably had more leeway when penning the lines for the 4. In previous iterations, the Coupes bore much more than a passing resemblance to their Sedan counterparts but with this new car, no doubt the styling similarities are still present, it seems the designers had a little bit more freedom of expression.  photo P1170185.jpg The 4 Series is shorter, longer, wider and most importantly, sits closer to the ground than it's 3 Series counterpart, with the most noticeable styling difference being the elegant sloping rear roof line which not only gives a sportier outlook, but also more space for the rear passengers and while the new front end might not be to everyone's cup of tea on the Sedan, it fits perfectly here.  photo DSC00509.jpg The 4 Series also gets a boomerang shaped vent just aft of the front wheels, first seen on the 3GT. Our test car came in "Sport" trim, which gave us a more aggressive front bumper and shadow-lined trimmings for the window surrounds and those "side-blades".  photo P1170160.jpg Inside, those familiar with the new 3 Series would find everything almost pretty much the same here. Not a bad thing really as the ergonomics are spot on and you can't fault the red and black interior combo on our test car. All of which when put together makes for a very good looking car indeed (even more so in this lovely shade of grey), so good looking that every time i parked it, i had to do a triple take as i walked away.  photo P1170123.jpg Walking away when you have the keys to this car though is something you'll probably do with reluctance because the drive, is just sublime. With the 3 Series easily one of, if not the most dynamically excellent cars in it's class, you might think BMW would just glue the two rear doors together and call it a day. Thankfully they didn't, and the end result is a car that is able to tip the 3 Series in every driving attribute you can think of. With the only six-cylinder TwinPower petrol engine in the entire lineup, you get slightly over 300 horses and a nice juicy 400Nm's of torque to play with and propelling the 4 from 0-100 in a respectably rapid 5.1 seconds.  photo P1170118.jpg 10 millimeters might not sound like much to most of us, being just a small space of air between our thumb and index finger, but with a 10mm drop, the 4 Series now has the lowest center of gravity of any current BMW. BMW had also set about retuning the suspension and camber settings to suit the car. Putting all those ingredients into a very well built and stiff chassis makes for one of the best driving Coupes on the market.  photo DSC00506.jpg Everything here flows together very well, the power delivery, the way the car pitches into the bends and holds itself through the twisties. The 4 Series Coupe just dances through the back-roads and feels very light footed throughout. The best part? It isn't intimidating at all. The agility and balance of the 4 Series just gives you that little bit more confidence to pop it into Sport+ and leave it there the entire run through the back roads. When the fun roads come to an end, the 4 slots back into cruise mode for a more leisurely ride home. On comfort mode, the ride remains on the slightly firm side, but the suspension does well in soaking up most of the nasty imperfections on our roads. It takes quite a bit of restraint to keep it in comfort though as it just feels so much better in Sport or Sport+.  photo P1170073.jpg One disappointment (and again on pretty much all new BMWs), is the sound, or rather the lack of. BMW really just needs to fit one of those new trick butterfly-valve exhaust systems to their cars.  photo P1170375.jpg Overall, there really is a lot to like with the new 4 Series. It looks fantastic, drives like a dream, pips it's sedan sibling in every dynamic way and easily outperforms it's very accomplished predecessor in each and every way. If COE prices were not as the levels they are now, i would not be surprised to see more of these on our roads. The BMW 4 Series range is now available for viewing in Performance Motors Showrooms.  photo P1170395.jpg


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