BMW South Africa revealed their new 4 Series last week in Mpumalanga where I got to drive the some of the new models at launch. The 4 Series Coupe was first introduced in 2013, with the Convertible and Gran Coupe joining the range in 2014. It is essentially the replacement to the 3 Series (and yes, like many I know, I also grew up idolizing the M3). In case you were wondering how this replacement is doing, the 4 Series in South Africa makes up 8-10% of BMW’s annual sales, according to the company.
The three models (Coupe, Gran Coupe, Convertible) have since sold 400 000 units globally up until the end of 2016; and of those, over 5 500 in South Africa. The Gran Coupe makes up 54% of the 4 Series sales worldwide.
The three model line-up comes in the following engine derivates – 420i; 430i; 440i; and 420d. All models are available on all derivates with the exception of the Convertible that does not come in diesel. They are available in both automatic and manual with pedal shifters on some automatic models. BMW’s Edward Makwana says the automatic is more popular in South Africa (hello traffic). The M4 was also at launch, but not for us to drive (BMW South Africa knows better 😂).
Along with the whole ‘4 is More’ theme, here are 4 things you should know:
1) The update is just a refresher, no major overhaul on the 4 Series yet. All cars in the line-up will now feature LED headlights as standard (xenon in the older models), as well as the rear. There are two new colours exclusive to the 4 Series, which is ‘Snapper Rocks Blue’ and ‘Sunset Orange’. My personal preference is the blue, as you may have noticed from my social media updates on launch day. I feel the photos don’t do it justice, it looks a bit more turquoise in real life, which is why I love it. Additionally, there are new wheel designs each for the Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport packages.
2) On the inside, the centre console comes in a glossy black, with chrome finishes. The instrument panels have double stitching, if you’re into all the little details, along with three new upholstery colours and interior trim strips. If you’re going for the M4, it has some unique interior options like carbon fibre trim, a Competition Package and chrome on the dashboard.
3) The standard infotainment screen is 6.5-inches, features the iDrive system with a rotary controller and buttons around it (nothing new here), but the interface is now easier to use with a large tile display (sort of like an apps on your devices), which I found easier to access via the rotary controller instead of the touch panel. It features Apple’s CarPlay (at a cost of R4 300) and Android screen mirroring. You can opt for a larger screen, as featured on the cars I drove at launch. The larger screen looks stretched but it can be used in a split screen mode, which I found was better visually; navigation on one side, music on the other. There are always options when it comes to BMW, like live traffic updates, an upgraded navigation system (different to standard one), Harmon Kardon HiFi (always go with this option), heads-up display, parking cameras, etc.
4) Going under the hood, the Coupe and Gran Coupe now come with a stiff suspension for sportier handling all while you experience constant comfort. The steering has also been upgraded to be more ‘communicative’, along with the control system. High-performance tyres are an option as factory fitted for models from 430i upwards.
I got to drive the 420i and the 420d around Mpumalanga last week, and opted for ‘snapper rocks blue’ both times. I’ve always preferred diesel variants with luxury sedans and SUVs (although I’m still not sure if we call it SUV in South Africa) as it’s just ‘lighter’. Although not new, I love the digital dashboard; when you’re using navigation, you can see what’s next at a quick glance but I’m still undecided if I prefer this view or a heads-up display. In terms of space for things, there are 2 water bottle holders in the front, which is great but I ended up putting my phone on the storage slot on the door, which kinda gets knocked around. I would have preferred a slot for my phone that is easier to get to when needed (and no, I was not texting and driving). There is a closed compartment beneath the arm rest in the centre as well. Inside the car, it’s luxurious and the seats are comfortable; we drove a total of about 500km and it was cushy. I enjoyed the drive; if you’re serious about getting a 4 Series, it gets a thumbs up from me.
Coupe and Gran Coupe
420i from R603 200 (manual)
420d from R639 300 (manual)
430i from R690 300 (manual)
440i R861 100 (auto only)
420i from R715 400 (manual)
430i from R827 600 (manual)
440i from R985 100 (auto only)