BMW 4 Series Review
Dramatic looks, a great range of engines and a fun driving experience help the BMW 4 Series Coupe to stand out
Strengths & weaknesses
If you fancy a bit of a sporty driving experience, and don’t need the practicality of a saloon or a hatchback, then the BMW 4 Series might be right up your street. This car is based on the regular 3 Series, sure, but it’s more than just a BMW saloon with a more rakish roofline. That’s because it’s wider than a 3 series, has a firmer, more sporty suspension setup and a stiffer chassis.
And while the styling is rather polarising - especially that big flared-nostril front grille, it’s certainly striking - and nobody is going to mistake it for a regular 3 Series. There’s still reasonable room in the back, too, though you wouldn’t want to be a passenger in those back seats for too long as headroom and general visibility isn’t great - but that's true of any coupe of this sort.
Engine choices for the 4 Series aren’t quite as extensive as for the 3 Series, but you can choose from the four-cylinder petrol 420i with 184hp and 430i with 245hp or the rapid six-cylinder 3.0-litre 374hp M440i with xDrive four-wheel-drive. Diesel choices are the 190hp 420d, the 286hp 430d and the seriously punchy 340hp M440d xDrive. Some feature efficiency-boosting mild hybrid technology too.
All 4 Series models come with a slick and quick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. There is no manual option, although you can change gear yourself to a degree using the paddle shifters or the stubby automatic gear selector. Most versions come with the option of BMW’s ‘xDrive’ four-wheel-drive system and some - like the M440i and M440d – are four-wheel-drive only.
Every 4 Series is great fun to drive, though, as they are wider and feature stiffer suspension than you get in the 3 Series, which makes them feel more sporty and agile than the already-entertaining 3 Series saloon. In fact, the M440i makes the Audi S5 and Mercedes-AMG C43 feel almost cumbersome at times in comparison.
This is partly because of the clever adaptive suspension, which is standard on the M440i and M440d and an option on other 4 Series models. This allows you to toggle between more comfort-oriented settings and firmer, stiffer suspension settings for a more sporty driving experience.
Inside, the BMW 4 Series has an excellent cabin. It’s virtually identical up front to the interior of the 3 Series - as these models are very closely related - but that’s no bad thing. It means the cabin is logically laid out, if a little on the fussy side in design terms, and the central touchscreen media system that displays many of the car’s functions, such as the sat-nav, smartphone mirroring and digital radio is large, clear and canted slightly towards the driver for maximum usability.
The dials in front of the driver are also a configurable digital display. The car gets BMW’s excellent 'iDrive' system, too, which uses a rotary dial and a series of haptic shortcut buttons to help you access most of the car’s main in-car entertainment and setup functions on the move, with the minimum of distraction.
Other manufacturers such as Audi and Mercedes have moved away from such physical controls, but it means you can make changes in the BMW without taking your eyes away from the road for longer than is necessary, which isn’t always the case with touchscreen systems. Some models get gesture control and even an optional head-up display, too.
You do sit lower to the ground than you would in a 3 Series, however, which also makes the 4 Series feel more sporty than its two key rivals, the Mercedes C-Class Coupe and the Audi A5. The 4 Series feels a bit more upmarket than the Mercedes, but its build quality can’t quite match the A5’s.
All models are available in one trim level only: the high-spec M Sport. This includes heated leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, a digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, three-zone climate control and cruise control. You can also upgrade to the M Sport Pro Edition, which brings a sportier look to the styling, larger 19-inch alloys and the adaptive suspension system, which allows you to tailor the firmness of the ride.
The M440i xDrive and M440d xDrive are technically their own trim levels, but are essentially the same as the M Sport Pro, albeit with powerful six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. The 510hp M4 Competition is based upon the 4 Series, but is something altogether different, and also significantly more expensive.
As well as the regular two-door coupe, a four-door version with a sloping hatchback tailgate called the Gran Coupe is also available. It adds practicality and flexibility to the 4 Series’ already-extensive list of capabilities - although some of the Coupe’s engine options aren’t available in the Gran Coupe.
There’s also a soft-top 4 Series Convertible available, but it’s the fixed-roof coupe models that we’re concentrating on here.
Should I get a BMW 4 Series Coupe?
✔ Fun driving experience
✔ Powerful and economical engines
✔ Impressive interior design and quality
✘ No electric model or plug-in hybrid
✘ Boot is not the biggest
✘ Front-end styling a bit controversial
Coupes, largely speaking, have two main jobs; to look good and to be fun to drive. If they can also mix in reasonable running costs, usable rear seats and a boot that’s big enough for the weekly shopping or a weekend’s worth of luggage, then they ought to be onto a winner.
In the case of the BMW 4 Series, provided you don't mind its controversial front-end looks, it ticks pretty much every box. It’s not all that cheap to purchase, but it is very well equipped indeed - whichever model you choose - and should hold onto its value pretty well, too. This means that PCP finance monthly payments should be relatively low for the cash price of the car, while cash buyers are likely to get more money back when they come to sell.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best BMW 4 Series Coupe for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
BMW 4 Series Coupe
With swoopy, dramatic styling and more sporty-feeling handling than the 3 Series it shares many structural parts with, the 4 Series Coupe is a glamorous, sporty BMW. Yet it still offers a nod to practicality, with genuinely usable back seats and a boot big enough for a couple of sets of golf clubs.
It also benefits from the same great range of engines that you’ll find in the 3 Series, although as a more high-end model, some of the lower-powered 3 Series engine options don’t make an appearance in the 4 Series. Similarly, there’s no bargain-basement trim level on offer, as all 4 Series Coupes are high-spec M Sport models at least.
BMW M4 Competition
The M4 uses the 4 Series Coupe as its starting point, but adds much more sporty styling and a range of bright colour options in order to make it visually distinct from the regular 4 Series Coupe.
Of course, it isn’t just its looks that make this high-performance spin-off of the 4 Series special. No, the massively powerful 510hp turbocharged engine does that. UK cars are available in ‘Competition’ spec only, which means extra-firm suspension, more power and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
There are rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions available, and the latter can hit 62mph from rest in an amazingly quick 3.5 seconds.
|M Sport||From £10,995: M Sport is the entry-level model for the 4 Series (it’s near the top of the range on most other BMWs) and gets you 18-inch alloy wheel designs, heated leather seats, cruise control, three-zone climate control and a digital driver’s display.|
|M Sport Pro||Limited stock: M Sport Pro Edition brings 19-inch alloy wheels, sportier styling add-ons and the M Sport Pro package, which includes adaptive suspension, among other things.|
All the available engines in the BMW 4 Series deserve praise for the way they balance effective performance with impressive fuel-efficiency, but the M440i’s 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine is really the star of the show.
Its 374hp power output makes it genuinely fast, yet at a gentle motorway cruise you can coax 40mpg. To be able to achieve that in a car that’s also capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds is truly impressive. The smooth growl from the engine while you’re doing so is fantastic, too.
A broad range of refined petrol engines and relaxed, muscular diesel engines from 184hp to 374hp means there’s a 4 Series Coupe out there to suit all sorts of motoring needs - and budgets.
|BMW 420d: The 190hp 420d diesel might be the entry point to the range, but it’s sufficiently powerful that you’ll never really feel shortchanged on the motorway or when overtaking. You’ll also not feel shortchanged at the filling station: the 420d can manage fuel economy of almost 60mpg.|
|BMW 420d: The 4 Series with this 2.0-litre diesel engine is powerful enough to be fun to drive, but economical enough to still minimise running costs. A five-door Gran Coupe model would be a better choice if you need regular access to the back seats.|
|BMW M440i xDrive: The M4 is technically the top of the 4 Series performance tree, but it’s also very expensive. The 374hp M440i, by comparison, is still rapid and almost seems like a bargain. It’s also more refined and easier to live with every day.|
|BMW 430i: The problem with the 430i is that it’s neither one thing nor the other. With 245hp it’s too powerful to match the value and fuel efficiency of the lower-spec four-cylinder models, yet it’s nowhere near as effortlessly punchy as the 286hp six-cylinder diesel 430d. An unhappy compromise.|
The main competition for the BMW 4 Series comes in the form of the Audi A5 Coupe and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe. The Mercedes seems a bit more flashy inside but actually feels a little less well screwed together than the BMW. The Audi, on the other hand, feels even more solid than the BMW.
Both the C-Class and the Audi A5 are less fun to drive than the 4 Series, however, and the high-performance Audi S5 is diesel-only, while in the BMW range you get a choice of powerful M440i petrol and M440d diesel if you are after a fast coupe.
There’s also the Lexus RC to consider, though its rear seats are cramped and there’s no diesel option. The Ford Mustang might also fit the bill. This offers the option of a large V8 petrol engine and a relatively low initial purchase price, but its styling might seem a bit brash compared with the BMW and the interior is rather cramped considering how large the car itself is.
If it’s a 4 Series Gran Coupe you’re thinking of, then the only direct rival to that is really the Audi A5 Sportback - and there’s very little to choose between these two other than the styling and the badges they wear.
Alternatively, if you don’t need any rear seats at all, then the Porsche 718 Cayman is worth a look - it looks great and, if anything, it’s even more fun to drive than a 4 Series, being smaller, lighter and more focused on driving, doing without the 4 Series' large boot and rear seats.
BMW 4 Series Coupe practicality: dimensions and boot space
The BMW 4 Series Coupe might only be a two-door car, but it’s designed to comfortably fit rear-seat passengers and to allow for a reasonable amount of luggage in the boot, too, so it’s not especially small. It’s around 60mm longer than the 3 Series saloon, in fact, at 4,768mm. It’s also 1,852mm wide, or just over 2 metres with the door mirrors taken into account. It is lower than the regular 3 Series, though, again by just over 60mm at 1,383mm, which makes it look even longer and sleeker.
These figures make its physical footprint virtually identical to those of the Audi A5 Coupe and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe, but all three cars are quite large, and with not brilliant visibility; especially when looking over your shoulder, the BMW 4 Series can be a bit tricky to manoeuvre in tight car parks. Fortunately, there are parking sensors to help you out.
|Length 4,768mm||Width 1,852mm|
|Height 1,383mm||Weight 1.525kg - 1,830kg|
The BMW 4 Series actually offers pretty impressive boot space, with 440 litres of room for luggage. That’s easily enough for a couple of sets of golf clubs, although an Audi A5 Coupe will give you a little more still, with 450 litres of space. That’s much better than you’ll get in the back of the C-Class Coupe, however, which can only muster 400 litres of room in the boot.
However, if you want a 4 Series with real luggage space and flexibility, the 4 Series Gran Coupe will be the ideal choice, as its 470-litre boot is only 10 litres short of the 3 Series saloon’s, and the hatchback tailgate makes it much easier to get large or awkwardly shaped objects in and out.
|Boot size 440 litres|
You’d expect cars from premium manufacturers to ace owner satisfaction surveys, but this is not always the case, and the BMW 4 Series is a perfect example of this: in the 2021 Auto Express Driver Power survey, it ranked just 56th out of 75 car model ranges surveyed.
This is a little surprising, given that the 3 Series fared much better in the same survey, coming in 31st place.
That all being said, the BMW 4 Series should provide reasonably reliable motoring.
The BMW standard factory warranty is limited to three years, but within that timeframe there is no mileage limit, whereas rival brands such as Audi limit their warranty cover to 60,000 miles.
This means that the BMW warranty cover lags behind the likes of Renault and Hyundai, which offer five-year warranties, or MG and Kia, which offer seven-year cover. However, none of these brands offer true rivals for the 4 Series.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £721
The 4 Series Coupe is an appealing car, feeling upmarket inside, offering strong and economical engines and an enjoyable drive. This makes it a good choice, provided you're not put off by the car's bold looks and oversized front grille.
With the five-door Gran Coupe model making up a significant proportion of total 4 Series sales, you’ll be able to find one of these practical, attractive hatchback models with relative ease, too, so if practicality is high on your wishlist, it's worth looking at these alongside the standard 4 Series Coupe.
As with most coupes with a premium badge on the nose, the initial price for these cars is high, and they hold on to their value pretty well, too. This can make them seem pricey as a used proposition, but because they retain a lot of their value, PCP finance monthly payments can prove surprisingly affordable, as the car's value at the end of the contract plays just as big a part in shaping the instalments as its initial price.
All 4 Series models are very well equipped, so you’ll get an eight-speed automatic gearbox, a digital driver’s display, leather seats, cruise control, three-zone climate control, built-in sat-nav and smartphone mirroring for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with every model.
All of which means your choice will come down to engine and body style. If you crave a spot of extra space, then the extra doors and hatchback of the Gran Coupe will make an awful lot of sense, whereas if sleek looks are most important to you then you should go for the two-door coupe.
In terms of engines, the diesels make most sense if you make regular long journeys, especially the 420d with its near-60mpg fuel economy capability. For more performance, you might consider the M440i if you can stretch to it, especially as its xDrive four-wheel-drive system provides great traction when accelerating, whatever the weather.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.
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