BMW 4 Series (2017-2020) review
The BMW 4 Series is a fun-to-drive, stylish coupe that’s comfortable and relatively spacious, although it is starting to look a little dated now
What's not so good
Find out more about the BMW 4 Series (2017-2020)
The BMW 4 Series is a sporty coupe that strikes a decent compromise between space, style and comfort. It’s the two-door version covered here, but you can also get the 4 Series as a convertible, and as the four-door Gran Coupe, which are reviewed separately. The 4 Series first went on sale in 2014, and was updated in 2017 with revised styling, an upgraded interior and more standard equipment.
It’s quite practical for a coupe with plenty of space up front, enough room in the back to be adequate for adults under six-foot tall and a big boot. In fact, it’s one of the most practical cars of its type.
It is an older design, though, so it doesn’t have the Mercedes C-Class Coupe’s luxurious feel or the rock-solid build quality of the Audi A5. It’s still really usable, though, and like every other BMW, the dashboard is angled towards the driver and the low seat helps it feel sporty.
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system comes as standard and it’s the best system on the market, with well laid out menus and intuitive controls. The rotary knob mounted between the front seats also means you can operate the car’s standard-fit satellite navigation without having to take your eyes off the road for prolonged periods of time.
That lets you concentrate on the 4 Series’ brilliant drive. Its controls are well weighted, its steering accurate and its suspension doesn’t let the car lean too much in bends. The BMW feels more like a sports car to drive than the Mercedes or Audi.
Adaptive M Sport suspension is an essential £515 upgrade that lets you stiffen the car on a country road or soften it up if you just want to waft down the motorway. It’s well-worth considering the £1,690 smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox – it takes the pain out of stop-start traffic and town driving.
The BMW 4 Series is like a Lacoste tracksuit: it’s sporty, comfy and practical and has that all-important premium label
Straight line performance is dealt with by a great range of engines. The 420d diesel is really popular for a reason – it’s pretty quick, yet cheap to run. But treat yourself to the 430i petrol if you don’t mind higher running costs – it has the get-up-and-go to keep hot hatches in check and doesn’t drink fuel unless you drive it like an absolute lunatic.
The 4 Series is based on the 3 Series saloon, which scored five-stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2012. However the test has got a lot tougher since then so you would expect newer models such as the Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class Coupe to be even safer.
What those other cars can’t do, however, is drive as well as the 4 Series does. Okay, its interior is a little dated now, but it’s spacious for this kind of car and well built. That makes it a worthy option if you want a practical, sporty car.
The BMW 4 Series is fun to drive and also comfortable – especially if you spec the Adaptive M Sport Suspension – but it’s noisier at a cruise than other cars of its type
The 4 Series is great fun to drive down a twisty road
The 4 Series’ engines range from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel fitted to the 420d, right up to the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine fitted to the performance-orientated M4.
The 430i petrol sits in the middle, but is in with a shout if you have a low annual mileage. It’s got a 255hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which gets the BMW from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds. It revs more freely than the 420d diesel, isn’t as rattly and gets official fuel economy of 43.5mpg – not too bad for a car like this.
If you’re willing to forfeit a little more fuel economy in the name of speed, go for the 326hp, 3.0-litre six-cylinder 440i petrol. It makes the 4 Series quick enough to dispatch serious sports cars and has a delicous engine sound to boot.
The basic four-cylinder 190hp 420d is hard to ignore if you rack up a lot of miles. It gets the 4 Series from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, doesn’t feel as dull as most diesels, and returns impressive official fuel economy of 62.8mpg.
The smooth six-cylinder 330d and 335d diesels offer a load more poke. The latter comes with four-wheel drive as standard and on a wet day would have no trouble keeping up with a super-fast M4. The 335d gets from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds but can return fuel economy of up to 50.4mpg – a winning combination in anyone’s book.
Out of the box, the BMW 4 series is more fun to drive than cars such as the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A5, thanks to it’s quick and accurate steering, minimal body lean and confidence-inspiring firm suspension.
That said, some choice picks from the options list – such as BMW’s £750 Adaptive M Sport suspension – can make it even better. It allows you to set the suspension to Comfort or Sport, the former making it more cosseting on bumpy roads, while the latter stops the car leaning in corners. In its raciest Sport+ setting, you can even slide the car safe in the knowledge that the stability control system will step in if you get too sideways – if that’s your thing.
The 4 Series’ six-speed manual gearbox offers slick shifts and helps you feel more involved, but if you want a more relaxing driving experience then buy the £1,690 eight-speed automatic that changes gear almost imperceptibly.
On the motorway, the BMW 4 Series is noisier than alternatives such as the Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class, which don’t suffer from the same level of road and wind noise.
The Audi and Mercedes should also be a little bit safer. They were subjected to tougher crash-testing than the 2012 evaluation the BMW won five Euro NCAP stars for. The 4 Series gets all the basic safety kit you would expect as standard, including a full compliment of airbags and stability control. However, active cruise control – which matches the speed of the car in front before returning to a preselected cruising speed – is a £620 option that needs to be specified with the £1,690 automatic gearbox. The self-drive functions offered by Audi and Mercedes aren’t available.
The BMW is easy to drive in the city, particularly if you specify the automatic gearbox. Good rearward visibility makes reverse parking simple and all models come as standard with front and rear parking sensors. A reversing camera is a £330 option you should only bother buying if you’re truly terrible at parking.
The BMW 4 Series’ interior feels very well built and is also surprisingly spacious, but the design doesn’t look fresh and alternative models have more high-tech equipment