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It’s the dawn of a new era. Previously part of the venerable 3 Series lineup, BMW’s compact sports coupe has been spun off as the 4 Series, an all-new two door with lower, wider proportions, ample power and the bevvy of technology that BMW is known for. The new BMW 4 Series models seat four.
Built on the same architecture as the 3 Series sedan, the BMW 4 Series rides on the same 110.6-inch wheelbase, but is slightly wider and nearly two inches lower.
The 2014 BMW 4 Series coupe is powered by the same engines found in the 3 Series sedan and comes in two variants: the BMW 428i and the BMW 435i, both available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The BMW 428i uses the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, just a skosh more than its 3 Series counterpart. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive BMW 428i xDrive models come with the automatic only. According to BMW, the 428i can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds with either transmission on RWD models, or just 5.6 seconds with all-wheel drive.
As with many new vehicles, the automatic transmission used on the 4 Series surpasses the manual gearbox when it comes to efficiency. Fuel economy estimates for the BMW 428i are an EPA-estimated 22/34 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual, 23/35 mpg City/Highway with the automatic on RWD models. Fuel economy for BMW 428i xDrive dips slightly to 22/33 mpg City/Highway with its AWD and automatic.
Most powerful is the BMW 435i, with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, two horses more powerful but five pound-feet less than the 335i. Transmission choices are the same 6-speed manual or 8-speed auto. Not only is BMW’s 8-speed automatic more efficient; it’s also quicker. A BMW 435i equipped with the auto achieves a quick 0-60 mph time of 5 seconds flat. With the manual, the 435i can go from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.
Fuel economy estimates for the BMW 435i are 20/30 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission and 22/32 mpg City/Highway with the automatic on RWD cars; xDrive versions earn an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg with the manual and 20/30 mpg with the automatic.
A concept version of a BMW M4 was unveiled at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, giving us a hint of what might be in the near future. There was talk of a 450-hp twin-turbocharged inline-6 and body panels made of lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber.
For 2014, BMW is including its emergency crash notification system, BMW Assist eCall, on all its models, along with 10 years of service.
Interior materials in the 2014 BMW 4 Series are similar to those found on the 3 Series, though the 4 Series cabin design is clearly more driver-oriented. The center stack is slightly canted to the left, and the narrow, tapered center console sits high, cordoning off the driver in her own little cocoon. The iDrive controller and a color screen are standard. For the most part, interior materials match the quality expected from BMW, but in some cases come up short, like the metallic blue and textured silver trim on Sport Line models, which in our opinion look cheap and stuck-on.
BMW designers claim the company’s even-numbered vehicles are more significant and unique than their odd-numbered counterparts (consider the 6 Series or the defunct 8 Series). But we’re not convinced the 4 Series is exceptional enough to fit into this category, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s more evolutionary than revolutionary, and is clearly recognizable as a 3 Series coupe successor. Prospective buyers should also realize the 4 Series starts at nearly $4,000 more than the equivalent 3 Series sedan.
Still, the 2014 BMW 4 Series is poised to become a leader among luxury compact sport coupes in a relatively small class that includes the Audi A5, Infiniti Q60 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe.