In-depth reviews

BMW 4 Series review - Engines, performance and drive

The 4 Series is talented enough to keep keen drivers interested, but also shines as a capable cruiser

Rest easy, BMW hasn’t contrived to ruin any of the 4 Series’ driving talents. It still delivers in spades on that great ability to turn from a comfortable cruiser into a fun B road blaster. 

Strong engines and the superb eight-speed automatic transmission make for a spirited combination. The Comfort drive mode is fine for tootling around, but engaging Sport mode helps to wring the full performance from the engine with quicker shifting and sharper steering feel. One thing we found during our test, however, is that leaving the car in Sport at slower speeds does make gear changes feel a little jerky, so it’s perhaps best to toggle between the two depending on the nature of your journey.

The 4 Series comes with M Sport suspension as standard, while the Pro Edition cars feature adaptive M suspension that regulates the damping rate according to which driving mode you’ve selected. Our test car, running on 18-inch wheels and the trick dampers, rode serenely across the worst of UK tarmac, so if you’re focused on comfort it’s probably best to give the optional bigger wheels a miss.

Nit-picking it may be, but steering feel isn’t flawless and the driving purist probably won’t enjoy the overly-thick, doughy steering wheel that prevents the driver from feeling properly connected to the road. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Performance across the 4 Series range is strong, with the 181bhp 420i petrol version delivering a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds. Upgrading to the 430i sees a power increase to 254bhp and an improved sprint to 62mph in just 5.8 seconds. The top-of-the-range 440i is a serious player with 369bhp and enough pace to complete the same benchmark in 4.5 seconds.

Diesel power shouldn’t be discounted as the 420d delivers plenty of low-down grunt - able to reach 62mph from a standstill in 7.1 seconds, with the xDrive variants a little behind at 7.4 seconds. The equivalent convertible models are all around 0.5 seconds slower due to carrying around an extra 160kg in weight.

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