BMW 4 Series long-term test review
The BMW 4 Series was the winner of our Coupé of the Year award in January, but what's it really like to live with? We're finding out...
The car BMW 4 Series 420d M Sport Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor
Why it’s here To show that a stylish coupé can still be a practical choice as well as being great to drive
Needs to Be fun to drive, reasonably economical, and function as a mobile office when needed
List price £43,095 Target Price £40,364 Price as tested £48,865 Mileage 5000 Official economy 61.4mpg Test economy 53.1mpg Dealer price now £38,494 Private price now £34,217 Trade-in price now £34,056 Expenses £151 (fuel)
20 July 2021 – Happily ever after?
Disney stories can convey life lessons to children and adults alike. In Beauty and the Beast, for example, Belle falls in love after seeing past the Beast’s monstrous appearance to the qualities within. And – stay with me here – I'd say that whether you love or loathe the way my BMW 4 Series looks, anyone who spends time with it will realise it’s a truly fantastic coupé.
I chose the 4 Series mostly for its long-distance touring ability, and in that department it hasn’t disappointed. Whether venturing down to Land's End in Cornwall for my theatre group’s bi-annual holiday or up to the Norfolk Coast to recover from said holiday, it’s carried me on motorways, twisting country roads and, occasionally, pebble-strewn farm tracks with absolute ease. I didn’t specify the optional adaptive suspension, which comes as part of BMW’s M Sport Pro package, but I never found my car to be anything less than comfortable, even over broken surfaces.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine has also impressed me, being smooth and hushed on the motorway, but with plenty of grunt in reserve should it be needed. Indeed, the whole car can change character at the touch of a button; pressing Sport makes a considerable difference to the way the accelerator, steering and gearbox respond, which is not something you can say about every car with selectable driving modes.
What of practicality? When I introduced the 4 Series, I wondered what space and usability sacrifices might have been made on the altar of style, and I worried that any passengers who sat on the rear bench wouldn’t want to stay there for long.
Thankfully, everyone who hitched a lift in the 4 Series had only positive things to say, from how generous the leg room was to how supportive the seats were. I threw the proverbial kitchen sink into the boot for my holidays, but there was always space to spare. All in all, it has been hardly any less practical than the brilliant BMW 3 Series saloon I ran in 2019.
You might remember that I added around £5000 to the price of my 4 series by putting lots of ticks on the options list and, were I to have my time again, I’d stick with my choices. While the Technology Plus Pack and the Comfort Plus Pack both add some features I only used a handful of times – gesture control for the iDrive infotainment system and the heated steering wheel, for example – they also bundle together enough more useful kit to justify their considerable cost.
Don’t go thinking it was all a fairytale, though, because there were some niggles. I wished the front seats would slide further forwards to make it easier to get people into the back seats because several of my passengers had to adopt undignified poses to make it. And while the piano-black dashboard plastic looks swish and modern in the showroom, within days of real-world use it’s covered in fingerprints and dust.
With the 4 Series now gone, though, the memories are mostly good ones: the way it made me smile on each and every journey; the ease in which I was able to keep in touch with the office, friends and family on the go, thanks to its user-friendly infotainment system; and how it attracted lots of looks (admiring and otherwise) as it carried me down the road.
So, while the question of whether it’s a beauty is likely to divide opinion ever after, the 4 Series is certainly no beast. In fact, after living with it, I reckon it’s as good a Prince Charming as anyone wanting a stylish coupé could wish for.
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