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Motoring: Be mine, 4-series

Credit: BMW

The new BMW 4-series a fun car to drive.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 7th, 2014

The BMW 3-series coupe and convertible are history. Nowadays, if you want a 3-series, you'll have to be content with either a sedan, a wagon or their new GT fastback model.

The coupe and convertible models are now part of the 4-series badge. This is done to tie up any lose ends in their lineup. You see, this all started when BMW started offering the 6-series again. It was essentially a 5-series sedan, with new clothes and came in coupe and convertible body styles.

That formula worked very well, so it was only appropriate to try the same with the 3-series. Hence, the 4-series, underneath is essentially the 3-series, with sportier clothing. However, I do wish the styling was more special. While the 6-series looks completely different from the 5-series, the same cannot be said of the 4-series vs. 3- series. They look confusingly identical, which defeats the purpose of the new model lineup. The 4-series coupe is a handsome vehicle, but not special enough when it comes to its appearance.

It is a similar story when you open the door. The interior of the 4-series is virtually identical to that of the 3-series. While there is nothing at all wrong with that, after all, the quality of the fit and finish, and the technology on board is just about the best in the business; it wouldn't really excite you either when you step inside. I think BMW could have been more creative here, but as far as comfort and convenience is concerned, this is a great place to spend time in.

What makes one buy a BMW over any of its competition is the way it drives. I got the chance to try out the 428i model and the 435i model. Both these models are available in rear-wheel drive and xDrive all-wheel drive form, with my testers being the latter.

Both these vehicles are also available with either a six-speed manual gearbox, or an eight-speed automatic. The 428i I had was equipped with the automatic, while the 435i had the manual.

Typically, I love manuals, and would choose to shift my own gears over having them shifted for me. However, the eight-speed automatic, as found in the new BMW's is beyond brilliant. The autobox can shift faster than me, be smoother, gives more gears to play with, and is the easier transmission to live with. Maybe I am getting old, but if I was buying a 4- series, I'd buy one with an automatic.

I would also buy one with the base engine available in Canada. I am talking about the 428i model, which has that wonderful 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo charged motor that produces 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This little motor is a sensation. It is quiet and smooth for when you want it to be, but when you put this vehicle in the “sport” mode, it becomes an eager and vocal motor that will plant a huge grin on your face. In my opinion, this 2.0-litre motor is currently the best mass-produced automotive engine in the world.

The 435i model has the old 3.0- litre, inline-six cylinder, turbo charged motor, which produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, and while that makes the car faster, it is not as charismatic an engine as the 2.0-litre.

The smaller, lighter, 2.0-litre engine also helps improve the handling, as the nose of the car is lighter. The 428i thus is less prone to understeer than the 435i.

It's also more frugal. I averaged 10.5-litres/100km in the 428i, while the 435i sipped 11.6- litres/100km — these figures were based on my driving, in very cold weather, with the cars wearing winter rubber, the fuel economy will be much better in the summer.

So, there you have it, the new 4- series.While I wish the styling and the interior had more — style, they are great cars nonetheless when it comes to driving. Surprisingly, it is the less-powerful model that gets my vote, although I am sure all that will change once I get my hands on the new M4.

The 4-series is yours from $44,900.
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