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      07-19-2013, 11:19 AM   #1
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Post Chris Harris reviews the 4 Series Coupe

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I have always seen this car as the sensible choice; albeit one which carries with it the credibility of rear-wheel drive and exceptional dynamics. The image has always been a problem, the way it drives never has been. So why does it comes as a surprise to spend the first hour in a new 435i (it doesn't even look right when you type it, does it?) and wonder how on earth a company like BMW can fashion something so bloody dull from ingredients such as 306hp, rear-wheel drive and stiffer bodyshell than a 3 Series. Saloon.
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But wasn't it ever thus? I remember reading about the E36 325i coupe in 1993. Articles littered with adjectives dancing around notions of respect and admiration. Just buy the Corrado if you want to have fun.

BMW doesn't want this thing to tear around too much, that's going to be the job of the M4 (try and tell me that doesn't look profoundly wrong), leaving the 435i a potentially minute seller in Europe. So why didn't I test the 428i or the 420d? Because that wouldn't do massive slides at Estoril of course.

That bloody 1 Series
Some observations about the 435i Sport on the road. With the optional adaptive dampers in Comfort, the ride is good to promising. In Sport it's quite harsh. The motor has a real zing to it, but as someone who spent a week in an M135i very recently this car feels a little flat afterwards. BMW decided to reduce the power and torque for the base car (there's some aftermarket bits to discuss soon) leaving a machine that is both heavier and less lusty than its baby upstart. The 435i enjoys the same glorious smoothness from the blown straight-six and the optional ZF eight-speed, and the noise is decidedly expensive, but it never quite manages to feel quick enough to make you grin at the silliness of it all. Whereas the last 335i had more than a whiff of Q about it, this one somehow doesn't. Blame that entirely on the aforementioned 1 Series.

The dynamics, curiously enough, are 3 Series plus six per cent. Everything is a little better supported, more accurate and firmer. The car sits 10mm lower, and the seat is actually 9mm lower, so the overall effect is one of being in something quite a bit more serious than the 3 Series. BMW claims that the 4 Series has the lowest centre of gravity within its model range.

The cabin is a mixture of the utterly predictable and the slightly worrying. First up is the now customary electric presentation arm which protrudes forwards to hand you the seat belt. It's a disaster. Sometimes it lunges and misses like a drunken man, other times you grab it and the belt rolls-over itself within the buckle . You know the one: you give it a yank to free it and the b*stard gets wedged.
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Yep, you drive along in the 435i (wrong, wrong - still wrong) suffused with admiration for the inner workings of BMW. This is as painless as 40-something-thousand pound motoring can ... hang-on, 40K shouldn't be painless. It should be life-affirming! So I trundled into Estoril Circuit wondering if BMW's finely judged sense of the ordinary being quietly underpinned by conspicuous talent had been disturbed. Did ordinary actually mean boring?

Those lingering doubts were nourished by the man giving the briefing ending it with a request of 'no drifting'. What's the world coming to? It's a ****ing 300hp BMW. If it doesn't oversteer it might as well be a ****ing Audi. Besides, telling a man not to oversteer is like telling a teenage boy not to leer at women's breasts.

It shouldn't have, but the 435i rather came alive on the circuit. Not because it has any great track pretensions - in circuit terms it's too loose, ungrippy and lacking brakes to lap for long - but because it finally had a chance to show itself. Know that mate who, once every 10 years cuts loose on the dry sherry and delivers a virtuoso performance of drunkenness? That's the 435i. You have to delve deep, and you'll need to be on a circuit, which is of course completely irrelevant to the way the car will be used, but there you will find the heart of a real BMW. How did Sir Humphry describe Radio 3? No one listens to it, but we just need to know it's there.

'A bit Rich Tea'
Perhaps this is why BMW will sell you bits from its M Performance accessories to harden your 435i (not getting any easier). First on the list is the M Performance Power Kit. It gives another 34hp and 37lb ft. M135i owners beware. You can have a limited-slip differential, larger front brakes, and a set of front and rear bumpers glistening with carbon. I'm trying to get some prices for this lot, but throw everything at the 435i (nope) and you end up with something quite different to the standard car. I suspect - because I've yet to drive one. But the presence on the launch event of a white display car, festooned with all this kit and a ruddy great black stripe does suggest that BMW knows the standard offering is a bit Rich Tea.

I have huge admiration for this car. It would be a fine companion over a several years and I think BMW has been very astute in offering some aftermarket trinkets for those who want added dynamism. Best of all, as a 420d (it's still not happening for me) many people will enjoy a level of chassis sophistication that separates the ordinary from the excellent.
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      07-19-2013, 12:24 PM   #2
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With this 4 series (well not just with the 4, but it further reinforces), BMW wants to cater, stroke and attract the egos of those who looks for status, braggin rights and praises first...

... for the thrill-seeker crowd, BMW is looking for to reach deeper into your wallet...

Looks like BMW is getting to be like Porsche...

Last edited by DrivenByE30; 07-21-2013 at 10:29 AM.
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      07-20-2013, 05:03 PM   #3
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For the Americans "Rich Tea" is a type of biscuit (cookie in American English) which is the most plain biscuit you can get. It's thin, dry, tastes plain, and doesn't have any interesting enhancements like chocolate. I would call it minimalist, satisfying, but not something you would crave.
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      07-20-2013, 05:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrivenByE30 View Post
With this 4 series (well not just with the 4, but it further reinforces), BMW wants to cater, stroke and attract the egos of those who looks for status and praises first...

... for the thrill-seeker crowd, BMW is looking for to reach deeper in your wallet...

Looks like BMW is getting to be like Porsche...
I agree with you totally. Everything on a Porsche is optional and you can almost add more in options than the price of the car itself. BMW makes a fine vehicle, but I have never felt it was up to Porsche fit and finish, etc. Also, if BMW starts to do this, they will not be viewed as a performance bargain (relative to Porsche) and there are a lot of heavy hitters out there for a lot cheaper in terms of performance. They need to follow their tag line, "The Ultimate Driving Machine", and it is very discouraging to hear the reviews coming back not praising the suspension, steering, etc. Those are supposed to be any BMW's calling card!
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      07-20-2013, 05:16 PM   #5
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Important review the changes and improvements 4 series
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      07-20-2013, 05:21 PM   #6
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BMW has played the 4 series too safe.
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      07-20-2013, 05:47 PM   #7
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C,mon BMW. I don't know what they are doing but it has to be some kind of brilliant plan. I personally love them to bits but they are selling us a bit short. I think they want the title of "the ultimate comeback" to grab some extra attention for sales. I think within 2 years they'll have brought "BMW" back into BMW and they will decimate the competition and have everyone's attention. Meanwhile I'm still happy. They still have the best overall balance in my eyes. No one will admit it who own other makes but you know these cars make them do a double take and secretly envy their purposeful aggressive looks. Especially with mperformance parts. Personally i
think it should ALREADY come with
These parts considering how much they cost. BMW still rules.
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      07-20-2013, 06:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stealth.pilot
For the Americans "Rich Tea" is a type of biscuit (cookie in American English) which is the most plain biscuit you can get. It's thin, dry, tastes plain, and doesn't have any interesting enhancements like chocolate. I would call it minimalist, satisfying, but not something you would crave.
Basically a saltine cracker then.
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      07-20-2013, 06:27 PM   #9
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is anyone really surprised by this? We should now call them...the:

ultimate yuppy machine.
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      07-20-2013, 06:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stealth.pilot View Post
For the Americans "Rich Tea" is a type of biscuit (cookie in American English) which is the most plain biscuit you can get. It's thin, dry, tastes plain, and doesn't have any interesting enhancements like chocolate. I would call it minimalist, satisfying, but not something you would crave.
Thanks for the clarification.


Hmmmm. I can't tell if he is saying the car is boring to drive on the street, or if he just finds the design boring. If its the latter then its BMW as usual (in a good way), if its the former then we have some problems.
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      07-20-2013, 06:54 PM   #11
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He has some valid criticism of BMW's vision and latest 4 series. Most people get it, the "4" is plain and simple a marketing strategy. The lamest line BMW recently used... it's a 3 but with one more of everything so it's so good we called it a 4. One of the worst pitches I've ever heard.

That said I really think the review would have been a better suited had he compared the new 4 with the outgoing e92 3 or at least focused more on the new F30 3 vs the F32 4. It was too apples to oranges and more akin to a comparison of the current 135is to a standard e92 335i. Two entirely different cars that share an engine with one that puts out more power, being compared against each other.
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      07-20-2013, 07:28 PM   #12
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Good thing he makes videos
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      07-20-2013, 07:38 PM   #13
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Both this guy and Topgear criticize DHP. I am surprised by that.
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      07-20-2013, 07:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martyl View Post
Both this guy and Topgear criticize DHP. I am surprised by that.
I'd blame it partly on 19 inch wheels on the test cars. I am inclined to think that a 428i with 18 inch wheels wouldn't have a too harsh ride on sport setting.
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      07-20-2013, 07:48 PM   #15
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If anyone was unconvinced that BMW has gotten softer and strayed away from its enthusiast roots at the very heart of the company, look no further than this review.
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      07-20-2013, 07:54 PM   #16
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interesting review
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      07-20-2013, 08:00 PM   #17
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Yay. A track-esque car you can't take to the track.

Luke warm coffee anyone?
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      07-20-2013, 08:08 PM   #18
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Good article. I'm really enjoying the way Chris Harris reviews cars in both written and video format.
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      07-20-2013, 08:36 PM   #19
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If this does not convince the people saying the f30 is just like every other generation where people did not like it but quickly accepted it, that the f30 is being horribly reviewed (or f32 rather-4 series) globally. This is a generation where the bmw is not the same as it was prior generations. It is too audi-like, too soft and too much of a mass market project catering to those who want comfort.

Its too bad. I will pick up an f80 m3 for a daily but my fun cars are no longer going to be M models. Sad but the day finally came.
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      07-20-2013, 08:50 PM   #20
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This is kind of to be expected as I found the stock form 2013 335i to be a distant relative of its E90 blood line. I think all BMWs have really taken a different direction in terms of raw driving experience to appease to a different market that they are targeting. While it may not bode well for some the numbers don't lie, they are still killing it! A lot of my friends that use to drive Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, or Mercedes have gone to BMW or Audi. I feel as if these new driving dynamics are focused on them as they rave about their cars and I find things to pick at

Like Chris said, if you want the "ultimate driving experience" you are going to have to mod the car and BMW is happy to sell that to you as well (i.e. the upcoming M5 competition package ).
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      07-20-2013, 08:51 PM   #21
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I have to say, I really appreciate Chris Harris reviews.

That being said, it's sad that BMW is really becoming Bavarian Marketing Works.
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      07-20-2013, 08:54 PM   #22
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Not good. BMW is getting softer, their priorities and focus seem to be shifting and it started showing first with the F10 M5, M6, then new 3 series, new 1 series and now 4 series, none really displayed the previous dominance of BMW dynamics against competition nor completely satisfied the previous BMW fans and owners. This may not be just a coincidence, I think BMW's client profile is changing considerably and they are aware and reacting.

IMO the 2 series will be the last test many people will be looking for and then there is only the significant M cars left to reverse this soft and slow downfall: M3/M4 and maybe M2 if they decide to build it. I can't say that I am sure they will nail it with these remaining models too. We may be passing through a time of controversial decisions in BMW which may last long, because of strong (even record) sales figures. Why would they "fix" anything if they sell this much?

I may be driving the last of the mohicans in BMW-land and not the pioneer of a new generation of performance cars. When they made the 1M they were probably paying a final tribute to their previous values rather than reviving them.
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