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’ 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 4 Series is great fun to drive down a twisty road
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.
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.