First impressions: Driving the 2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe
This past weekend, while many of you were enjoying Bimmerfest East in Aberdeen, Maryland, I was across the pond tracking the elusive 2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe. I say elusive, simply because I personally had yet to drive or actually see the new 4 series in person. Well, that was about to change. This year, Bimmerfest.com got an invite to spend some quality time with the new coupe. The setting: the streets around Lisbon, Portugal, at the 2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe International press launch.
The 4 Series is BMW's latest line of sporty mid-sized coupes, the next step up from the 3 series, something more. The 4 series will be available in the following trims in the US: 428i, 428i xDrive, 435i, and 435i xDrive.
I picked up the key to the car I would be driving and headed to the garage to check it out. There, BMW had a dramatic audio/visual presentation of the 435i that really played to how striking the car looks. The lowered roofline and the large front air intake, which is stretched to the edges of the front bumper, give the front that wide, low, and aggressive look. That low sloping roofline and pronounced upper door line lead you to the flared rear fenders, then to the stretched rear taillights, which further accentuate the flared fenders and wide, aggressive look. I think my only complaint would be that I would have liked to see a bit more done with the rear bumper. Not anywhere near a deal breaker though.
My drive started out on the highway, leaving the airport, so I played with the Driver Experience Control switch a bit. This car also had the BMW Adaptive Suspension installed. It adapts to the road surface and driving, but can be adjusted further with the Sport and Comfort settings. I started off in Comfort mode. The car felt smooth and handled changes in pavement well. Acceleration and shifting from the 8-speed automatic gearbox were buttery smooth. The variable sport steering had good feel at highway speeds, and a light feel at slower speeds, making for easy city driving. I then found my way off the highway and onto some narrow twisties, on my way to the hotel in Cascais, so I figured I'd been in comfort mode long enough. For these roads, I tried out the sport and sport+ settings, to see what the car could do. This is where the 4 series really started to show some of its personality. Turn-in was quick and precise. There was plenty of tire grip available throughout the turns. The active suspension did a great job of keeping the car sorted over crests and undulations in the road. Gear changes were wicked fast and there was never a shortage of power. This came in handy when overtaking other vehicles on these narrow roads. I found that 4 series braked well too, especially when getting the car slowed for a corner after passing a truck. All in all, it's quite a confidence-inspiring car, able to handle pretty much whatever you throw at it.
Bottom line: The 2014 BMW 435i is a great package. It draws attention because of its great looks, and it backs those looks with some great performance.
If there are any specific questions on the 4 series you have, feel free to ask.
There is much more on the way, including an article on my track experiences with the 435i at the legendary Estoril Circuit!
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