Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bucket Seat: BMW 4 Series - First Impressions

The saying goes "time flys when you're having fun" and if you're an owner of a BMW 4 Series, that's just what you would be doing every time you drive yours. It's hard to believe the range has been in assistance for 4 years now, with the Coupe being launched in mid 2013 and the Convertible and Gran Coupe joining the ranks later in 2014. Since then BMW have sold over 400,000 units worldwide with a vast majority of sales coming from the USA with Europe in second place and 5,500 coming from South Africa. From those stats, BMW were able to establish that buyers of the 4 Series bought the cars because of the aesthetics and elegance the model offered. The 4 Series was brought in by BMW to differentiate the model from the popular 3 Series, while the car did borrow many attributes from the popular sedan, it was designed to give the driver a more dynamic and sporty experience.  Being at the end of it's cycle, I flew up last week to sample the updated 4 Series range which saw all three variants launch at one time. I spent the day driving the 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe while exploring the magnificent roads and sights of the Mpumalanga province.

So whats new? That's the question I got throughout the day on my social media accounts. Well not much has been changed in the overall look of the car but there are many subtle changes that make sense and add appeal to this already popular model. The tag line for the launch was "4 Means More" and the end user of the 4 Series is definitely getting more than before. The most striking change is the new hexagonal headlights, BMW has phased out the Xenon technology and opted for Bi-LED lights in the entire range with an option of having the Adaptive LED lights as an added extra. These lights don't just look pretty but work wonders on the road, giving the driver a further depth of sight at night and also is a much softer light for on coming drivers. The rear lights also received the LED treatment with progressive LED tech being used for them. The lights look great and add to the flow of the design and but are functional as well. 

Along with these, the new 4 Series also has a sense of exclusivity to it now with two new colours that are only available for this model range, that being Snapper Rocks Blue and Sunset Orange. Both extremely striking colours and certainly bring out the sporty and aggressive nature of the car. There is also some new rims that are available only for the 4 Series, again adding that element of individuality and ensuring that every 4 Series can be custom made for each prospective buyer. Moving into the car, much has remained the same with a few extra chrome touches around the dash, giving the car a more premium feel. The 4 Series also comes standard with BMW's business Satnav screen with the option to upgrade to the bigger professional Satnav screen which features BMW's new tile menu system which was launched in the new 7 Series. 

As far as cosmetics go, that is a bout it. The 4 Series range does come with the new engine variants which was phased into previous spec when the engines were introduced in 3 Series. That being the 420i, 430i, 440i and 420d and of course the much famed M4. Other performance enhancements of the 4 Series see's the car come in with a redesigned chassis, stiffer suspension, modified dampers, update ABS which gives the car a shorter breaking distance and better stability, all of which were put to the rest on my drive in both the 420d Coupe and the 420i Gran Coupe. It was had to differentiate the drives both cars gave you, as with the Gran Coupe, you not only have the extra doors but also a slight change in shape but the designers have done a brilliant job in give the driver the center of gravity, the seating position is lower, with the body being wider all adding up to more of an athletic performance and agile handling. I did feel over high speeds that the steering still remained rather loose on the Gran Coupe which is unbecoming a bit but the car proved to be stable and still jetted off in the intended direction. 

Pricing on the updated 4 Series is a lot compared to the 3 Series but one has to understand that this range is vastly different and offers the end user a lot more, not just in appearance but in as a total driving package. Also whats interesting to note is that the Coupe and the Gran Coupe are priced the same, so if you're looking a for a family car but still want it to be a fun and invigorating drive, the Gran Coupe would be ideal for you. For me that is my pick out of the bunch, it's practical, stylish and offers the exact same driving dynamics as its two door brother the Coupe so in essence you're getting more from the car than what you're paying. Overall the enhancements made to the updated 4 Series should prove to be a major selling point for the model in SA and I can see this one doing very well across the variants that is offered. 

 Gran Coupe
 R624,400 (Auto)
 R624,400 (Auto)
 R736,200 (Auto)
 R711,100 (Auto)
 R711,100 (Auto)
 R848,400 (Auto)
 R861,100 (Auto)
 R861,100 (Auto)
 R985,100 (Auto)
 R660,100 (Auto)
 R660,100 (Auto)
 *not available*
 R1,251,036 (Auto)
 *not available*
 R1,433,762 (Auto)

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