The BMW 4 Series was born in 2013, when – for the sixth-generation of 3 Series and following a BMW decision to change its model-naming hierarchy – the Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe models of what would ordinarily have been called the 3 Series became the 4 Series; this follows BMW’s current product pattern, whereby all odd-numbered cars are Saloons, Tourings and Gran Turismos, while all even-numbered cars are the more desirable Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe derivatives of the aforementioned odd-numbered series.
There’s loads of choice in the BMW 4 Series range. The Coupe arrived first, at the tail-end of 2013, with the Convertible following soon after in early 2014. The four-door Gran Coupe arrived later that year and offered the same boot space as a comparable-age 3 Series Saloon, only in a more rakish body style. There is what might seem like a dizzying array of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines available for the 4 Series, but in reality it’s fairly simple – all of the 430d, 435d, 435i and 440i are six-cylinder models, while almost all the others have four-cylinder engines, save for the 2016-introduced 418i, which uses a 136hp, 1.5-litre three-cylinder motor as seen in the MINI Cooper. Gearbox choices were the six-speed manual or the more common eight-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic, which was either an oft-taken-up option by buyers of the Four when it was new, or just standard-fit on the bigger models, while drive was – in the main – via the rear axle, although some models were offered with xDrive all-wheel drive, again either as an option or the original fitment. From launch, the original engines were the 420i (184hp), the 428i (245hp) and the 435i (306hp) on the petrol side, with the diesels made up of the 420d (184hp), the 425d (218hp), the 430d (258hp) and the 435d xDrive (313hp). Soon after, a frugal 418d arrived in 2014 (with 143hp), while a number of updates in 2015 and 2016 saw engines replaced by newer units with different architectures, the introduction of the 418i and also a mild facelift/interior revision. The 420i remained with the same power outputs but was nevertheless a new engine, while the 428i and 435i models were replaced by the 430i and 440i (respectively), with 252- and 326hp outputs. Over on the diesels side, the 418d, 420d and 425d models were all uprated to 150-, 190- and 224hp with new engines, but the 430d and 435d xDrive continued unchanged. Bear in mind some engines are not available in some body styles; the 418i motor, for instance, was not offered in the heavier Gran Coupe shell.
While all the engines are good, even if we can’t help but be disappointed that the 428i and 430i models are four-cylinder cars rather than six-pots, it’s hard to ignore the all-round charms of the 420d. Go for an xDrive-equipped Gran Coupe and you’ve got a smart, stylish and deeply capable all-rounder with a prestige badge on its nose.
BMW 420d xDrive Gran Coupe
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 227km/h
0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.0 litres/100km
• Handsome looks
• Plenty of model and engine choice
• Quality cabin
• Not as sharp to drive as you might think
• Uninspiring four-cylinder petrol engines
• Can ride firmly as an M Sport
The BMW 4 Series represented a shift in thinking from BMW, as it clearly defines the boundaries between its more prosaic models – 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series – and its more desirable vehicles, in the form of the 2 Series, 4 Series, 6 Series and 8 Series. Of these, the 4 Series is one of the most impressive cars of the lot, as it’s useable in an everyday fashion while it feels a little bit special to be in and to drive. It’s not perhaps quite as dynamically exciting as it could be, but the BMW 4 Series makes an excellent used proposition nonetheless.