First Drive: A Week with the 4 Series and Over 500 Miles of Driving

by Mark Jurista on September 19, 2013, 12:55 pm
BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

The BMW 3 Series Coupe is no more. Long live the 4 Series.

The 2014 BMW 4 Series has been the talk of the automotive world over the past few months because of BMW's decision to rebrand the world famous 3 Series Coupe to the 4 Series. After having a few days with the 4 Series in Seattle, I believe the discussion is going to change once more people have a chance to get behind the wheel and see just how much fun the 4 Series is to drive.

Exterior Design

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

The first thing you need to know is that the 4 Series is a very good looking car in person. It was so good looking that I was continuously asked about the car while making stops in and around Seattle last week. Everyone wanted to know what the car was or why they had not seen one yet. The car really does stand out that much from the previous generation and it pains me to say that since I have a 3 Series Coupe sitting in my garage at home.

All of my time was spent behind the wheel of a BMW 428i that was equipped with the optional M Sport package and it is probably a must have option if you want that more aggressive look. The front bumper stands out immediately and the subtle slotted air curtains on the outer edge help frame the driving style of the car before you ever turn on the engine. The lines flow extremely well from front to rear and the fastback styling gives the 4 Series an athletic presence on the roadway. The only part of the car I am still not sold on is the Air Breather integration on the side profile. I would have preferred a more clean integration like on the F15 X5 (see our First Drive of the new X5) but that is just my nit picking on an overall pleasing design.

Interior Packaging

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

The interior of the 4 Series follows on that of all newer BMWs with a more driver oriented dash coupled with a freestanding iDrive control screen. The screen you get is dependent on what options you get on the car and I would assume most of you will end up with the larger 8.8" screen that comes with the navigation system or technology package. The 428i that I was driving did not have navigation and it was disappointing to not be able to try out the newer iDrive Touchpad system in the car. Based on previous experience though, the new iDrive is a huge leap forward from pre-July 2013 production cars and is a good reason to buy a 2014 model.

Hitting the Road with the 4 Series

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

The first stint of driving I had in the 428i was mostly highway driving, as we passed from the United States into Canada on the way to Vancouver for some time with the new X5. I have to say, I couldn't decide just what to think. The power from the 2.0 Liter 4-Cylinder TwinPower Turbo motor was more than enough to get yourself into trouble but driving straight and directly into rush hour traffic is not the way to review this car. This drive is certainly where the lack of navigation made things more interesting in a bad way.

Lucky for me, that was not the end of the driving experience but only the beginning. The next leg of the journey with the 428i took us through the twisty, curving roads that this 4 Series was made for. All the marketing talk about this 4 Series having the lowest center of gravity of any BMW and a rear track that was 2.1" wider than the current M3 finally came into perspective. The 428i sliced into the curves of the road while firmly planted on the ground and seemingly asking for more. You could feel how solid the car was going through some switchbacks and then hurtling down a quick straight into another set of tight turns. It was not all marketing hype; the car really did feel that good.

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

The steering on the 428i seemed to be improved over that of the Electric Power Steering (EPS) found on the previous F30 328i cars that I have driven but there is still a sense of numbness when at extremely low speeds. While driving spiritedly, the steering feel was more than adequate and seemed very precise in its movement. Sometimes I had a feeling that I was over thinking the EPS and convinced myself that the hydraulic steering found in the previous generation; you could almost call it being stubborn. The car was a blast to drive and when in the moment, I never once thought twice about the steering feel.

Over the next few days, I managed to put about 500 miles on the 428i driving it from Seattle to Mt. Rainer National Park and back up to the Olympic National Park going from highways to small country roads. The most amazing part of the whole experience to me was that I never thought to myself that I missed the feel of my 2007 335i. The 428i's 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque was almost perfectly fitted for all the roads I encountered. While the power in the 435i would be a nice luxury, it never crossed my mind that I needed that power.

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

When you pair the 428i's 4-Cylinder motor up with their brilliant 8-speed transmission and you can see why BMW is so supremely confident in their offering and why less people are buying manual transmissions. The 8-speed automatic transmission smoothly transitions between the gears to provide the power you need. Toss the car into Sport mode and Sport Transmission mode and the car will hum along the roadways with all the power you could want at your fingertips. If you still want control of the shifts, just pull back on the paddles to take full control of the experience. Even though my daily driver is a 6-speed manual, I would almost be hard pressed to select that option in this car. The engine and the 8-speed automatic work that well together.

Bringing it Home

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

After a week with the 428i, I found myself back home driving my E92 335i and reflecting on the differences between the two. The biggest change by far is the interior design which is something I sorely miss now. I felt more connected to the 428i than I do to my 335i and perhaps that is part of the reason I enjoyed driving the 428i as much as I did. The exterior design brings modern and sleek lines to the car and makes people take notice when you drive by. The most impressive part though to me is just how nimble the car feels through a set of tight turns and how firm it grips the road while doing it.

BMW set out to make a car that was worthy of a name change and based on the 500 miles of driving I had, I can't argue with their choice any longer. The car is sleek, smooth and sexy in almost every possible category and almost had me thinking about trading up to the next generation before I remembered that I wanted a car with four doors again. Maybe that will end up being the 4 Series Gran Coupe if they manage to make that as fun to drive as the 428i was. Only time will tell.

BMW 4 Series 428i in Melbourne Red

I encourage you to go take a 4 Series for a test drive when they arrive at your local dealer. Do not settle for a quick on and off highway drive though as you won't get the full experience. Insist on an extended drive that takes you through some twisty roads and I think you'll stop caring what it is called.

If you have any questions, ask away!
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31 responses to First Drive: A Week with the 4 Series and Over 500 Miles of Driving

RipSnort535i commented:
September 21, 2013, 4:22 pm

Mazda MX-6 Mystere
Snareman commented:
September 21, 2013, 10:41 pm

Nice review. Are there larger pics anywhere?
f30jojo commented:
September 22, 2013, 5:01 pm

nice review, well put together.
pix335i commented:
September 22, 2013, 7:08 pm

All the photos are here:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/bmw-photos...melbourne-red/

You can click on the image in the gallery to view larger versions.
Snareman commented:
September 22, 2013, 7:23 pm

any pictures of that white one with a 19 inch Wheels?
Bret_T commented:
September 22, 2013, 8:28 pm

Great review!
pix335i commented:
September 23, 2013, 11:47 am

There are a few photos of that specific 435i in this gallery:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/bmw-photos...series-launch/

2014 BMW 435i
pix335i commented:
September 23, 2013, 12:13 pm

I just uploaded a few more photos that include more photos of the Alpine White 435i!

Go look at the gallery here:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/bmw-photos...series-launch/
Snareman commented:
September 23, 2013, 2:17 pm

Lots of great pictures there, thanks!
galenet123 commented:
September 23, 2013, 8:44 pm

My BMW is almost 10 yrs old. I got the X3 when it first came out. I'm ready for a new one! But I am a die-hard manual transmission fan. I tried the step-tronic in my old 325i and hated it. I would be curious to hear anyone review comments on the manual tranny.

Also, 4 cylinders seems too small to me. My last 3 BMWs were 6 cyl. I'm afraid that just won't be enough power. Anyone test drive a 435i yet?
Bret_T commented:
September 23, 2013, 9:17 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by galenet123 View Post
I would be curious to hear anyone review comments on the manual tranny.
I drove a '13 335i with a manual transmission which I'm pretty sure is the same that's now in the 435i. I had no problems with it. I'll be getting one in the 435i that I order. I especially liked the fact that the brakes hold the car in place when you're starting on a hill.

Quote:
Also, 4 cylinders seems too small to me. My last 3 BMWs were 6 cyl. I'm afraid that just won't be enough power. Anyone test drive a 435i yet?
I drove one with 22 miles on the odo. We did about a two mile route around the dealership and then came back to a straight away in front of the dealership. The CA asked me if I wanted to punch it, so I did. It accelerated significantly faster than my '07 WRX and '03 S2000 (which I expected it to). There's plenty of power as far as I'm concerned.
Gerry1314 commented:
September 24, 2013, 4:20 am

This question came up in a another forum but maybe the answer is here. For those who have driven a 4 series, what's the keyfob like? Small and compact? Large and bulky?
Snareman commented:
September 24, 2013, 8:59 am

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry1314 View Post
This question came up in a another forum but maybe the answer is here. For those who have driven a 4 series, what's the keyfob like? Small and compact? Large and bulky?
I assume it's the same mongo fob the f30s have.
pix335i commented:
September 24, 2013, 9:32 am

The 6-speed is a fine transmission as I've driven the F30 with a 6-speed for a lot of miles. You won't be disappointed with it by any means but the point I was making above is that the 8-speed is worth a drive if you haven't done it yet. It is just refreshing to know that both transmissions are great choices for once! Before making any real decisions I would think you would want to go test drive both a 428i and a 435i. I love the power in my 335i but I would not be upset in the slightest if someone were to swap it out with a 428i. The N20 motor has plenty of power.

In regards to the keyfob for the 4 Series - I didn't pay a lot of attention to it but I believe it was the same as the F30. It was certainly not as slim as my E92 key.
Snareman commented:
September 24, 2013, 10:02 am

I sure hope there is some increased functionality for the new huge fobs.

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seoulchild79 commented:
September 24, 2013, 7:46 pm

I agree with the OP as far as the driving dynamics. The dealer let me and my wife take one for about an hour test drive. It was 428i with sport line. I thought it was quick in sport mode and the handling was great considering it didn't have the M-sport set up. It definitely felt much quicker than I expected from a 2.0 turbo. We drove the Audi A5 2.O turbo a few weeks before and it was much quicker in comparison. I plan on placing my order this week. Just need the dealer to meet me where I want to be as far as numbers go.
zoombie99 commented:
September 24, 2013, 9:18 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by seoulchild79 View Post
I agree with the OP as far as the driving dynamics. The dealer let me and my wife take one for about an hour test drive. It was 428i with sport line. I thought it was quick in sport mode and the handling was great considering it didn't have the M-sport set up. It definitely felt much quicker than I expected from a 2.0 turbo. We drove the Audi A5 2.O turbo a few weeks before and it was much quicker in comparison. I plan on placing my order this week. Just need the dealer to meet me where I want to be as far as numbers go.
You can probably order it from any dealer in the US and take delivery at PCD


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zoombie99 commented:
September 24, 2013, 10:27 pm

Actually, speak to a board sponsor.


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trusaleen1 commented:
September 25, 2013, 11:59 pm

Im debating on color between Alpine White and Melbourne Red. Some have said the MB looks better in pics and more orange in real life. How did it appear to you?

Thanks
pix335i commented:
September 27, 2013, 11:27 am

It depends on how the light hits the car to be honest. I don't personally think it has much of an orange color to it. That being said, I am also a huge fan of classic Alpine White. If you are seriously split on the decision, I'd probably save the money and go with Alpine White.
mrdefense commented:
September 29, 2013, 9:46 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry1314 View Post
This question came up in a another forum but maybe the answer is here. For those who have driven a 4 series, what's the keyfob like? Small and compact? Large and bulky?
I just picked one up Saturday. I last owned a 2007 550i and a 2007 750i which both had the same size key FOB. The new 428i key FOB is slightly larger than the 2007 models but it looks almost the same otherwise.
Snareman commented:
September 29, 2013, 10:05 pm

Having driven it the other day, the fob is just like the large one for the new F30's if you've seen them
mrdefense commented:
September 29, 2013, 10:17 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snareman View Post
Having driven it the other day, the fob is just like the large one for the new F30's if you've seen them
After further research, I think it is exactly the same at the F30. I am adding a pic of it.
Snareman commented:
September 29, 2013, 10:18 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrdefense View Post
After further research, I think it is exactly the same at the F30. I am adding a pic of it.
So you just picked up a 4? My dealer just got 2 and said they aren't allowed to sell them for 30 days.
mrdefense commented:
September 29, 2013, 10:36 pm

Yes. My dealer had a 435 and a 428. The 435 was sold right away and if I had not confirmed the sale late Friday night, they could have sold the 428 that we got twice on Saturday.

I missed my 750i more than I can say. I traded it August 2012 on a CTS coupe. It was a beautiful car, but it was no BMW. Completely different animals. I went in to service our 330ci and saw the 428i. I had never seen one before. The wife and I did the impulse thing and well we have one now.

Awesome vehicle.
Snareman commented:
September 29, 2013, 10:42 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrdefense View Post
Yes. My dealer had a 435 and a 428. The 435 was sold right away and if I had not confirmed the sale late Friday night, they could have sold the 428 that we got twice on Saturday.

I missed my 750i more than I can say. I traded it August 2012 on a CTS coupe. It was a beautiful car, but it was no BMW. Completely different animals. I went in to service our 330ci and saw the 428i. I had never seen one before. The wife and I did the impulse thing and well we have one now.

Awesome vehicle.
You may be the first person on here to have one. You MUST post more pics somewhere.

Are those the M performance side mirrors?

Welcome to the board btw!
mrdefense commented:
September 29, 2013, 11:02 pm

It has the sport package but it is not the "M". I attached the window sticker options. I will load more pics tomorrow. The only pics my wife took were at the dealer and it still had the plastic on everything. It arrived 9/19 at the dealer and had to go thought inspection etc.

I am really excited, I have owed about 50 or so cars, many new, but I never bought a new BMW. Looking forward to owning this one a long time.
Christos commented:
October 9, 2013, 4:08 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by seoulchild79 View Post
I agree with the OP as far as the driving dynamics. The dealer let me and my wife take one for about an hour test drive. It was 428i with sport line. I thought it was quick in sport mode and the handling was great considering it didn't have the M-sport set up. It definitely felt much quicker than I expected from a 2.0 turbo. We drove the Audi A5 2.O turbo a few weeks before and it was much quicker in comparison. I plan on placing my order this week. Just need the dealer to meet me where I want to be as far as numbers go.
Are you saying the A5 was quicker or the 428i? I drove the A5 the same day as the 428 and feel the A5 is more nimble, lighter feeling and quicker.
seoulchild79 commented:
October 9, 2013, 4:37 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christos View Post
Are you saying the A5 was quicker or the 428i? I drove the A5 the same day as the 428 and feel the A5 is more nimble, lighter feeling and quicker.
The 428i was by far a more satisfying drive to me in all respects. It did feel heavier, but it felt more powerful and faster without trying very hard. The Audi felt stressed to me when I gave it some gas. After leaving the Audi dealership I think my wife and I talked about the A5 for about 5 minutes. After driving the 428i she and I both felt the need to share our experience with our friends. I think that's a good sign of which one I prefer. The A5 was nice but the 428i made me wish I had an open road with no traffic!


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Robert A commented:
October 9, 2013, 5:43 pm

How do you like the beige interior with the black roof lining?
Christos commented:
October 9, 2013, 7:33 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by seoulchild79 View Post
The 428i was by far a more satisfying drive to me in all respects. It did feel heavier, but it felt more powerful and faster without trying very hard. The Audi felt stressed to me when I gave it some gas. After leaving the Audi dealership I think my wife and I talked about the A5 for about 5 minutes. After driving the 428i she and I both felt the need to share our experience with our friends. I think that's a good sign of which one I prefer. The A5 was nice but the 428i made me wish I had an open road with no traffic!


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I'm wrestling between the two, 428i and A5. I need to test drive the 428i a few more times. New build time for Audi is 12 weeks and 6 weeks for BMW.