BMW 4 Series (2013-2020) Review
If smart looks are more important than practicality, and you want a premium badge and a fun driving experience, a 4 Series is worth a look
Strengths & weaknesses
On paper, the BMW 4 Series is a car that will grab you by your heart more than your head. It has two doors only, a headroom-reducing swoopy roofline, and a relatively high price tag when compared with the regular 3 Series Saloon - with which it shares many of its mechanical parts.
In practical terms, then, the 4 Series is not a car to go for if you need oodles of boot space or regularly make use of the rear seats. Having said that, it still has a reasonably sized boot and those rear seats are more than good enough for occasional trips. Plus, since it’s lower and wider than the regular 3 Series, it’s been designed to feel just that bit more sporty. As such, it’s a rival for the Audi A5 Coupe, Mercedes C-Class Coupe and Lexus RC.
Inside, you’ll find that the dashboard is essentially identical to the 3 Series that was built during the same time, but that's no bad thing as it means the build quality is impressive and the central media system is clear. It’s also easy to operate, with the controls coming in the form of a physical rotary dial, which BMW calls 'iDrive' and which means you can adjust the car’s entertainment systems without taking your eyes off the road.
Every 4 Series is well-equipped, avoiding the entry-level trim levels that you get in the 3 Series. In fact, when the design was updated in 2017, the SE and Luxury trim levels were dropped from the range, leaving Sport and M Sport as the only options. Models from 2016 onwards were available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but this was an optional extra.
Regardless of specific trim levels, every 4 Series gets leather seats, heated seats in the front, parking sensors and climate control. Up front there are supportive seats and plenty of legroom, but rear-seat passengers will find things a little tight, especially when it comes to headroom - although there is more rear-seat space than in an A5 or Mercedes C-Class Coupe.
If you want a bit more space, there’s always the option of the Gran Coupe, which adds two rear doors and a hatchback boot, and turns the sleek 4 Series into a much more practical family car in the process
All engines are impressive, although the entry-level 418d diesel is a little short on power, but this model was dropped later in the model’s lifecycle. The 420d diesel is genuinely impressive, though, with either 184hp or 190hp and capable of more than 50mpg fuel economy.
At the top end of the diesel range you’ll find the six-cylinder 430d and 435d, which produce 258hp and 313hp respectively - and both deliver decent economy combined with incredibly muscular performance.
In terms of petrol engines, the 2.0-litre 420i (with 184hp) and 430i (with 252hp) are both impressive, as is the 245hp 428i that was the predecessor of the 430i.
The real stars of the range, though, are the 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol models in the form of the 306hp 435i and the newer 325hp 440i. And, for those with a real hankering for the sportiest 4 Series of them all, you get between 431hp and 450hp with the high-performance M4 and M4 Competition. The 440i is fast, getting from 0-62mph in less than five seconds, but the M4 is in another league - it can blast from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds.
All 4 Series engines are turbocharged, and 'xDrive' four-wheel-drive is standard on the 435d, though it’s also an option on some other models in the range. Gearboxes are either six-speed manuals (though only in the 420d or 420i) or smooth-shifting eight-speed automatics. Although the diesel models offer genuinely impressive fuel economy, it’s a bit of a shame that the plug-in hybrid engine available in the 3 Series of the same era never made it into the 4 Series.
Should I get a BMW 4 Series Coupe?
✔ Good fun to drive
✔ Excellent performance from bigger engines
✔ Great economy figures from diesel models
✘ No plug-in hybrid option
✘ Boot a bit of an awkward shape
✘ Ride on M Sport models can be quite firm
If you’re looking at a coupe, good looks and a fun driving experience are likely to be your main priorities, and the 4 Series easily ticks both of those boxes. Whichever BMW 4 Series you’re considering, you can guarantee that it’ll be good fun to drive, and its sleek styling will draw appreciative nods.
On top of that, most 4 Series models also manage to mix in reasonable running costs - especially the 420d - with the sort of performance that makes overtaking easy and quiet country roads good fun. Plump for one of the faster models, and you’ll sacrifice a little fuel economy, but you will be treated to true sports car levels of performance, especially if you can stretch to the truly excellent M4 models.
The 4 Series is also more luxuriously equipped than an equivalent 3 Series, which makes up for the fact that it’ll most likely be a little more pricey, as will the fact that it will hold onto its value quite well.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best 4 Series for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
BuyaCar prices Limited stock
BMW 4 Series Coupe
The sporty looks and agile, sharp handling help the 4 Series stand apart from the 3 Series upon which it’s based, and help it feel like a genuinely glamorous car. Yet it’s not an impractical or frivolous choice; there’s plenty of room in the boot and the back seats are perfectly acceptable for shorter journeys, even if your rear passengers are quite tall.
The fact that the 4 Series shares its excellent range of engines with the 3 Series is another bonus, even if the plug-in hybrid 330e has no equivalent in the 4 Series lineup. Equally, there’s no lower-spec trims on the 4 Series, which makes the model a little more expensive, but does mean all cars are very well equipped as standard.
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
The Gran Coupe is BMW’s attempt to let you have your cake and eat it; it offers much of the sleek styling of the coupe, but with two rear doors and a hatchback boot. If you need more boot space and better access to the rear seats, but want the style of a coupe, this is definitely the 4 Series to look at.
In fact, it manages to combine the sportier looks and driving experience of the 4 Series Coupe with almost as much versatility as you'll find with the 3 Series Touring estate. Impressive.
The M4 might look like a 4 Series from a distance, but up close you realise it’s quite a different car, even though it's based on the same basic body. It’s much more aggressively styled, and some bright colour options help to set it apart from regular 4 Series models.
It’s also set up for more sporty handling, which is a good thing because its 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine delivers up to 450hp - an enormous amount of power for a car of this size. Power goes to the rear wheels via a different gearbox to other 4 Series models, too; it uses a seven-speed 'dual-clutch' automatic gearbox that’s faster-shifting but jerkier than the eight-speed automatic in other 4 Series cars.
|SE||Limited stock: The 4 Series is more generously equipped than the 3 Series saloon, with leather seats, parking sensors and climate control all standard even on entry-level SE cars. SE trims were dropped from 2017, however.|
|Modern||Limited stock: Modern spec maintains the SE’s chrome exterior detailing, but upgrades that car’s 17-inch alloy wheels to 18-inch items. You also get sports seats inside. Never a particularly common choice, the Modern trim was discontinued in 2014.|
|Sport||Limited stock: Sport-spec cars can be distinguished by their gloss-black exterior trim details, differently designed 18-inch alloy wheels, a subtly different front grille and red interior trim detailing.|
|Luxury||Limited stock: In terms of equipment, Luxury is on par with M Sport, but the emphasis is on upmarket touches. So you get chrome trim rather than black, lighter-coloured leather and wood-veneer interior inserts. Luxury was discontinued as an option in 2017.|
|M Sport||From £11,695: M Sport is the top-spec trim level, but also the most popular. It gets a unique design of 18-inch alloy wheel, bespoke M Sport exterior styling details, an M Sport sports steering wheel and black interior headlining, plus firmly sprung sporty-feeling suspension.|
You’ll not feel shortchanged by any of the engines in the BMW 4 Series range, but the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in the 420d has a breathtakingly broad range of abilities.
With 190hp (184hp in pre-2016 models) it offers plenty of punch for a start, being capable of getting the car from 0-62mph in a reasonably speedy 7.5 seconds. It also delivers muscular, effortless overtaking power.
Yet, unlike some of the petrol engines in the range it can deliver great fuel economy, too, with an official fuel consumption figure of just over 50mpg. If you want decent performance without sacrificing reasonable running costs, few engine choices - in any car - are quite so impressive.
Whether you’re after sports car performance such as that offered by the 440i and M4 models, or the mile-munching fuel-efficiency of the 420d diesel, there’s a 4 Series out there to suit you.
|BMW 420d: Fuel economy of around 50mpg is impressive enough, but when you combine it with a 190hp engine that gives you more than enough performance for motorway cruising and effortless overtaking, the 420d makes a really strong case for itself.|
|BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe: More boot space - that’s easier to get to, thanks to a hatchback boot opening - and a pair of rear doors make the Gran Coupe ideal if you want to carry kids without sacrificing sporty style or a fun driving experience. And the fuel economy of the 2.0-litre diesel engine will help you minimise running costs.
|BMW M4 Competition: BMW’s performance car department, known as its M Division, works some serious magic with cars like the M4. And with the Competition version, the power is upped to 450hp from 431hp, while the sports exhaust system makes it sound amazing, too.|
|BMW 418d: The 150hp 418d would be fine were it not for the existence of the 420d, which is more powerful, makes for a more relaxing motorway car and in the real world uses barely any more fuel. If you can make it financially, the step up to the 420d is well worth it.|
Early 4 Series models of this generation were up against older versions of the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A5, so feel both more modern and high-tech as a result. The Mercedes, however, was redesigned in 2015 and the Audi in 2016 to bring them both up to date in terms of styling and technology.
The redesigned Mercedes is flashier inside than the BMW, but doesn’t feel quite as well put together, though the Audi feels like an even more high-quality product. The BMW feels more fun to drive than both the Audi and Mercedes, however, although there’s not much in it with the later Audi A5 models.
The Lexus RC is also a potential rival, though it’s rather cramped in the rear seats and there’s no diesel choice in its engine range - though there is an economical petrol-electric hybrid, which works particularly well in terms of offering economical driving around town.
If you want a bit more of an American flavour to your coupe, then the iconic Ford Mustang arrived in right-hand drive for the first time in 2015, with a choice between a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a monster 5.0-litre V8 engine. Yet although the Mustang is undoubtedly very cool, it is quite a brash design, plus it’s quite cramped inside for such a bulky car, so you may still prefer the BMW.
BMW 4 Series Coupe practicality: dimensions and boot space
At 4,638mm, the 4 Series Coupe is almost identical in length to the four-door 3 Series, but at 1,825mm wide (rising to more than 2 metres with the door mirrors included) and 1,377mm tall, it’s a few centimetres broader and lower than the saloon model, which helps make it look suitably sleek and sporty.
These dimensions also mean that the 4 Series is a decent size when it comes to practicality and more than capable of swallowing a couple of sets of golf clubs in its large boot, while allowing you to offer lifts for rear-seat passengers.
It’s also almost identical in its physical dimensions to the Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class Coupe, although the latter is a little taller and longer, but only by a centimetre or two in both dimensions. The BMW is much more compact than the Mustang, though, which is 15cm longer and 9cm wider than the BMW.
|Length 4,638mm||Width 1,825mm|
|Height 1,377mm||Weight 1,431kg - 1,695kg|
With 445 litres on offer, the BMW 4 Series actually offers quite a large boot for this type of car. In fact, it’s only around 35 litres off the boot space in the theoretically more sensible 3 Series saloon. Plus, should you opt for the 4 Series Gran Coupe, you’ll find room for a saloon-equalling 480 litres of stuff, with the added benefit of a hatchback tailgate, which makes it easier to load large items.
That said, the Audi A5’s 465-litre boot beats the regular 4 Series in size terms, even if the 4 Series can outpunch the 400 litres on offer in the boot of the Mercedes C-Class Coupe.
|Boot size 445 litres|
The BMW 4 Series might not be as trouble-free as you might expect for a premium manufacturer. In fact, the 4 Series ranked a poor 68th out of 75 models surveyed in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey, which covered this generation of car. In fact, one in three owners reported problems, either with electrics, suspension or brakes.
Despite the reliability niggles, owners still praised the experience, though, marking the 4 Series highly for ride quality, ease of driving and performance.
As standard, BMW offers a relatively short three-year warranty from new, so it isn’t long before models slip out of their factory cover. It’s worth, therefore, looking at the possibility of an aftermarket warranty, especially if you’re considering a model that’s already three years old.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £721
The 4 Series Coupe - even in this older form - is an excellent car, blending an enjoyable drive with decent practicality and impressive fuel economy, in the case of the diesel models.
Despite the drop in general popularity of diesel models in the last few years, the diesel models in the 4 Series range are so effective at combining low running costs with decent performance that they make up a significant proportion of the used 4 Series models available to buy at any one time. Even if you're not necessarily looking for a diesel model, going for one of these could still prove a good move, though it's worth being aware of any diesel emissions charges in your area, which affect older models.
BMW streamlined the trim levels for this version of the 4 Series part-way through its life, so the younger models available will either be in smart-looking Sport trim or high-spec M Sport. If you can find one with the M Sport Plus pack, you’ll get extra kit such as 19-inch alloy wheels, uprated brakes, and a Harman Kardon sound system.
With earlier cars, the SE model is a good buy, as it still offers leather seats, a digital radio and built-in sat-nav, as well as alloy wheels and rear parking sensors.
There’s no question that you’ll get a well equipped and good looking car, whichever 4 Series you go for, and the fact that all models get leather seats, built-in sat-nav and cruise control - among other goodies - means that you’re guaranteed to feel like you’re driving a high-end product.
This means that the 4 Series that’s right for you will largely depend on the engine and bodystyle. If it’s space you need, then the extra practicality of the Gran Coupe will be a winner, but if you only need to use the rear seats occasionally, then the sleek-looking standard car will work better for you.
When it comes to engines, the choice is largely between powerful petrols or economical diesels. The 420d makes a fantastic all-rounder and is readily available in large numbers, but if it’s power you want then the 440i six-cylinder petrol, with more than 320hp is an excellent engine. It’s much more common than the earlier 435i model, too.
If you’re looking at a slightly older 4 Series, then you’ll find more examples of the 435d xDrive diesel than the 435i petrol when it comes to powerful and refined six-cylinder models.
*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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