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XCAR: BMW 4 Series: The end of the 3 Series coupé and convertible
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XCAR: BMW 4 Series: The end of the 3 Series coupé and convertible

5:47 /

BMW is filling out the numbers in its range. For the birth of the 4 Series though a legend has to die.

This car marks the end of an era. It replaces a car that for many was the most desirable, achievable dream car. This is the BMW 4 Series, and it's very big. It means there's no more 3 Series coupé. And that's sad for a number of reasons. BMW is breaking down its range just to fill-in these shoes. You see the 4 Series is gonna take the place of the 3 Series coupé and eventually the convertible as well. It will be there to take home the style-driven likes of the Audi A5, whereas the normal 3 Series, well, that will be up against more family-friendly fare, taking on the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, and their particular ilk. Also, it means the death of the M3 coupé, arguably the coolest of the M cars to buy at any given point. That's a shame. The 4 Series is based on the 3 Series, which means it's already based on one of the best cars for the money available, but don't go making assumptions about it. For example, a cynical fool may say that it's just a 3 Series, a [unk] does, but they would be wrong. You see, it's lower, longer, and wider, and the exact express that we all know and love, and I think it's a lot prettier. Take a look at this window line. It's smoother than you would expect. Similarly, I haven't gone there at the rear. It will hardly vanish in the company car park, really. BMW is gonna be releasing a plethora of engines for this thing from small [unk] to big diesels, you know, the drill that also be a 4-wheel drive version for, you know, extra traction in the wet. The one we have here though is the full 35i. It [unk]. It comes with 302 brake horsepower, 295 pound-foot, and will hit 62 miles an hour from rest in 5.4 seconds. So it's quick then, but does it handle well? Being based on a 3 Series, the 4 Series is unsurprisingly absolutely brilliant to drive. The engine itself, I really, really like it. It's a 3-liter, 6-cylinder GB as you'd expect from a BMW, but it has turbos on it. And that means it's got more than 300 brake horsepower, nearest on a 300 pound-foot of torque. The response you get from it in the Sport mode is just amazing. It revs so freely, just power up the rev range, and the noise you get from it admittedly is pumped in to the cabin at the base, quite quiet from the outside, but you do get that little hint of sportiness once you do really start working, as you start pushing it into courses, pushing it down straight to get the best from it, and it's so smooth and so quiet and so refined when you want it to be. Nine to 62 for the manual is 5.4, but if you go BMW's 8-speed automatic option, that falls to 5.1 seconds with the official figures, so this will do over 35 miles to go. That's in the manual. The automatic will do even more than that. The cabin itself is well laid-out, well-designed. The iDrive Systems had a big overhaul, and now you can draw things on the top of it. So when you're entering things in the sat nav so you can draw letters on it and it will recognize it fully rather than to click through time after time after time, which anyone has ever used [unk] really great. It's incredibly laborious and a bit packed. And basing 3 Series doesn't mean it's exactly the same. The track at the front and the back is wider for a sportier stance and better handling. The wheelbase is a bit longer as well. It's all these tweaks. While I guess it is based on it, it is not the same. It can be a nice comfy cruiser, it can be an echo car, and it can be a sports car at home when you've had a rubbish day. It's really good. No matter how good the 4 Series is to drive, how desirable it is, I have a problem with it. This car exists purely to fill a number hole, essentially. BMW has made no secrets of the fact that it wants a car for every numeral. So the 1 Series will give way to a 2 Series. The 5 Series creates the 6 Series, and we have yet admittedly a successor for the 8 Series, a true one at least. But in the interim, the i8 sports hybrid super coupé sports car thing will certainly do. Perhaps this may sound like a futile change or what have you, but the 3 Series was fine as it was. It's been an aspirational name since the mid 70s. The original 3 Series way back when it was a coupé-- well, a two-door saloon-- it was the first and sort of executive cars. And all the way through, the 3 Series coupés kind of being the one to go for if you don't have a family or just want that little bit of extra stone. It seems BMW is turning its back on its heritage just for one minor difference. The 3 Series is now the family car; whereas the 4 Series is the one for people with slicked-back hair and Austin Reed suit. However, no matter what I say, no matter what I actually think about the 4 Series, one thing is certain, no matter what are you or anyone else says, you're gonna buy them [unk], anyway. It's a good-looking, fast, efficient BMW coupé. Heritage be done. It's an absolutely brilliant car, and well, even when the N4 comes along, I'll probably want one myself.

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