When it launched in 2014, the 4 Series signalled a departure from tradition for BMW. Sure, it followed the same formula as its predecessor, lopping the rear doors off a practical sedan to create a sexier silhouette, but the powers that be in Munich decided the old formula needed a new name, swapping a 3 Series Coupe badge for 4 Series nomenclature. After just three years on the market, the car has been treated to an update, with a new face and high-quality cabin to combat increasingly stiff competition from Audi, Lexus and Mercedes.
BMW might be calling it the "new" 4 Series, but you'd need to be a trainspotter to notice the sheetmetal changes. There are new bi-LED headlights up front, working with a fresh bumper design and extra chrome detailing designed to make the car stand out next to the stunning Mercedes C-Class Coupe. It's a similar story down back, where revised taillights and a fresh rear apron make the car look lower and wider. Although the changes aren't big, the original car wasn't exactly ugly, so we can't really blame BMW for not messing with the formula too much.
The changes are more significant inside, where BMW has chased a higher quality feel. The new multifunction instrument display isn't quite as advanced as the Virtual Cockpit system in the Audi A5, but it does allow drivers to choose from a variety of dials – ranging from the traditional, simple BMW clocks to a more futuristic look inspired by the i8 hybrid. A fresh double-stitched dashboard and extra chrome elements in the cabin also add a touch of sparkle, but the basic layout still looks tired compared to some competitors.
Under the skin, both the 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe have been treated to a revised suspension setup designed to make the car feel more stable at speed. Even though it's set up stiffer than before, BMW says the new suspension tune hasn't had an adverse effect on ride comfort. That sounds good in theory, but we'll have to get behind the wheel to test the claim out. Stickier tires are also optional on high-end models, including the range-topping 440i with its twin-turbo inline-six engine.
With the full Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe model lines included, there's a staggering 31 different versions of the new 4 Series available. The base petrol engine in the 420i makes 135 kW (184 hp), but keen drivers will want the 240 kW (326 hp) 440i. On the other side of the fence, the range of diesels kicks off with 110 kW (150 hp) 418d Gran Coupe and runs up to the 230 kW (313 hp) xDrive 435d. Of course the fire-breathing M4 is still on offer as well, but the BMW Motorsports Division hasn't seen fit to add any power to the already potent package.
The new 4 Series will be popping up in showrooms soon, with pricing to start around the same US$42,000 when it lands in the USA.