The 4 Series uses a variety of engines from the 3 Series range. These stretch from the entry-level four-cylinder diesel in the 420d right up to the potent six-cylinder petrol turbo in the 440i and M4.
The 420d, which has the broadest appeal, is swift and its engine revs keenly for a diesel, with good flexibility for when you need a quick surge of power to overtake. The turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol in the 440i pulls strongly from very low revs all the way through to 7000rpm; it feels extremely quick and makes overtaking effortless.
If you need a high-performance diesel then the 4 Series has two capable candidates in the 430d and the 435d, but the latter is available only with four-wheel drive.
The only engine to avoid is the basic 420i petrol, which revs quickly enough but simply can’t match the in-gear response of the diesels; it has to be worked hard to make reasonable progress.
The pinnacle of the range is the high-performance M4. It uses a twin-turbo straight-six engine with more than 400bhp, can go from 0-62mph in close to four seconds and has a huge number of bespoke parts to shave its weight and improve its handling.
BMW 4 Series Coupe ride comfort
Like most BMW models the 4 Series comes with the option of an adaptive M Sport suspension that can adjust to suit different roads and driving conditions. Cars fitted with the optional dampers strike a fine balance between ride comfort and agility and allow the driver to choose between ‘Sport’ mode for a stiff ride that gives better road holding, or ‘Comfort’ and even ‘Comfort +’ that softens everything up for a soft but still well-controlled ride.
On the standard springs the 4 Series is a little less able to react to changes in the road surface, so lumps and potholes can be heard and felt as heavy thumps inside the cabin. That’s why it’s best to stick with smaller alloys if you have the standard suspension. The diminutive 17in alloys might not look the best, but they’ll make your 4 Series much more comfortable.
Even on adaptive dampers, the optional 19in wheels still send a few thuds through the seats when travelling over rough roads. The exotic M4, with its standard 19in alloys and bespoke tyres, has a much firmer ride than any other car in the range, but the high-quality damping means it’s never uncomfortable.
BMW 4 Series Coupe handling
Of all the executive saloons, the 3 Series is one of the very best to drive. The two-door cousin we’re talking about here is just as good. In fact, it feels even more composed than a 3 Series in corners, thanks to its lower centre of gravity and wider stance.
The steering is accurate and really responsive, making the 4 Series easy to place on the road. It offers more feedback than, say, an Audi TT, and the rear-drive layout gives it a real feeling of delicacy in corners. Probably the best part of the handling, though, is that this agility does not come at the expense of passenger comfort for those on board. The 4 Series doesn’t float or bounce over bumps, treading a fine line between comfort and control.
One caveat: the BMW is a bit wider than some coupés – and that can make it a bit ungainly in town.
BMW 4 Series Coupe refinement
The six-cylinder petrol engine in the 440i is a peach, making a bassy thrum that becomes a creamy howl when you rev it.
By contrast, the 2.0-litre diesel in the 420d sounds gruff, a trait you can’t fail to notice on start-up and when accelerating. The six-cylinder diesels are a little more refined, but they still lag behind the most hushed cars in this class.
The 4 Series suffers a little too much wind and road noise at speed, too. This problem is also quite dependent on wheel and tyre choice: the bigger you go, the louder the road noise gets.
Choose the standard six-speed manual and you’ll get a ’box that is springy and accurate, but the clutch is quite heavy and there will often be a judder through the gearlever when pulling away. That’s why the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox is well worth considering, because it shifts swiftly and smartly, is more efficient and more refined.
The entry petrol version is not the pick of the range, it’s quieter than the 420d, but needs to be worked quite hard, and never feels that fast. It comes with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, but we’d avoid it if possible.
Considerably more punchy and flexible in-gear than the 420i. The turbocharged 430i has decent performance, but it’s a bit gruff when you accelerate, and if you drive it hard don’t expect more than about 34mpg.
Our pick 440i
Our pick of the petrol models; if you can’t stretch to the M4 then this is the closest you will get. It has searing straight-line performance, a great exhaust note and reasonable CO2 emissions given the amount of power.
Likely to make up the majority of sales, the 420d is surprisingly efficient, but it rarely feels fun, and the engine makes a lot of noise when starting up or accelerating hard. It sends nasty buzzes through the pedals and wheel, too.
This six-cylinder diesel is nearly as fast as the petrol equivalent, much more economical and fairly refined. It’s only available with an automatic gearbox though, in either two or four-wheel drive.
Few people need the staggering in-gear pace of the 435d xDrive. We are yet to try it here in the UK, but the combination of four-wheel drive, a slick auto gearbox and potent engine make it unfeasibly fast, in all kinds of weather.
In effect, a two-door version of the M3 saloon. Powered by a walloping 425bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six engine that punches ridiculously hard at almost all speeds. Traction control is often called into action.