A while back, when we previewed the BMW 4 series, we said it is essentially a 3 series sedan but with 2 doors.... ya, we got that wrong, very wrong. You see, even though it looks like a 3 series from the outside and the inside, it sure as hell doesn't feel like one when driving it. It comes down to that age old saying "don't judge a book by its cover".
I've been driving around in the 428i for the past 5 days and its been a breath of fresh air from BMW. When I was first told I was getting it, I was a bit disappointed that I was not receiving the range topping 435i, that is the closest thing you're going to get to the much anticipated M4 which is due in the 3rd quarter of this year but when this mineral grey beauty arrived in my drive way, I sort of fell in love with the car. Not only was the colour quite unique but the subtle sport package that it came with did the car justice in a way that represented both the elegant side to it and just enough to make you know it means business.
Coming back to why I was wrong to compare it to the BMW 3 series, firstly it has two doors, ,duh, and they're frame less, so the elongated doors give the car that uber cool floating look. Secondly the ride height is much lower than the 3 series and the car is wider to its 4 door counter part so your center of gravity in the car is much lower overall. Sitting in the drivers seat is always special in these new beemers, I just love how everything evolves around the drivers cockpit rather than positioned so far away from the driver that he has to undo his seat belt to get across to it. The rest of the interior seems pretty much the same as the 3 series with one having multiple options on the colour coding and stitching.
The car I had came with a 2+2 configuration which means 2 in the front and 2 at the back but a full bench is available as an extra. With having a coupe, it can get annoying having passengers at the back which means constantly moving the seats back and front and dropping the back rest to allow them entry and also means that you have to stand outside while all of this is being done. The 4 series however has comes with auto moving seats so while it still takes some time to do, its pretty cool to move the seats by pressing a button instead of just sliding it manually. This may prove an issue if you're parked in the rain as the seat doesn't move particularly quickly. Seating in the back is comfortable as any sedan with plenty of space for a full grown adult to sit in comfort.
Having driven the 328i GT I was expecting a similar sort of drive, while the 2.0ltr twin scroll turbo engine was powerful in the GT it did seem sluggish at time however with the 428i, it was a whole new ball game. The engine pushes out the same figures but the guys at BMW tweaked the engine a bit to give the 4 series a sportier feel. How so? Well for starters, when pushing it at high acceleration the gear box maximises the using of all the gears, taking each one up to 6000 revs per minute, this pulling power results in the car reaching 100kph in about 5.3 seconds. The grunt from the engine is quite spectacular too with the noise filtering through the cabin making your hair stand on ends.
The wider wheel base makes the car more agile and gives the driver more confidence in entering a corner at high speed, couple this with the 50/50 weight distribution is gives the car a real sports car feel. Whilst it is pretty fast on acceleration, deceleration is pretty quick too, so add that to the sharp breaking from the ABS the stopping power on the car is damn good.
The car came with most of the bells and whistles which included the light package, lane change assist, sat nav, the ones I found most helpful were:
- Camera Package: The cars design is more sleek with the bonnet slightly raised than what you're used to so over looking the sides can be tricky when parking especially since the driver is sitting in quite a low position so the 5 camera's are pretty darn helpful when it comes to navigating through tricky spaces.
- High Beam assist lighting: The adpative LED head lights are brilliant as it is but this extra takes it to the next level. Having this option on, it automatically detects when you're entering extremely dark areas and automatically switches from low beam to high beam lights to lighten up those areas. Even in cases where the left side is darker than the right, only the side that is dark will switch to high beam lights. With the anti dazzle technology, on coming cars won't be affected that much by it and when it does detect light, it will switch back to low beam.
- Access to the back seats, besides it taking long it does feel like you're a prisoner in the car, it is comfy but your access depends on the person in front. To be honest, the person that buys this car would be doing so for him and his partner travelling, the added seats that actually serve its purpose unlike other coupes are just a bonus.
- Those long doors, they're a nightmare especially in tight parking lots. You have to be a contortionist at times to manoeuvre yourself out of the car if parked too closely to the car in the next bay.
- It's thirsty, yes the high revving might be fun and a joy to hear but damn does it gobble up the fuel. I haven't managed to get the cars consumption under 10 litres per 100km! Eventually only managed to do 483km on the tank before the range said 0 and had me shitting myself till I reach the petrol station.
- The car came with the extra LCD display at the bottom of the instrument panel, its a waste of time since the steering wheel blocking the info most of the time.
The car is brilliant, it's everything a sports coupe should be and to be honest, even with the cons, those come with coupes so if you're going to buy one you already know what you're in for. It's not as expensive as the 6 series but it does give you a bang for buck experience but while I say that this car doesn't come very cheap either. Whilst the 435i will be better in performance, I honestly think the 428i would be the better buy from the two, purely from the fact that if you wan't fast, you should get the M4, if you want a coupe, get the 428i.
- 2 litre, 6 cylinder twinscroll turbo charged engine
- 8 speed automatic, step-tronic gear box
- 350Nm torque
- Consumption: 10ltr/ 100km
- Top Speed: 250kph
- 0-100kph: 5.5 seconds
- Price: R587 600 (excluding extras)