EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 22, 2014

BMW 4 Series gives sports coupes new shape

Motor Mouth
Jeffrey Zygmont

---- — The BMW 4 Series Coupe is a substantial new luxury car. Wide, low-riding, ambitiously elongated and tightly composed, the 4 Series stands on the pavement with the presence of an actor on a stage. All eyes focus on it.

The new 4 Series is also impeccably styled, which also draws all eyes. BMW shaped the car like windswept sculpture. Its hood arches up defiantly from the nose, and is ridged by deft creases that look shaped by an airstream. Similar smooth creases vector along its long-running sides, creating dramatic shadow lines. The cabin of the 4 Series sits back, arches low and finishes with a long slant, the way the wind would carve any fast-moving shape.

The 4 Series Coupe is an all-new entity from BMW. The mid-size two-door sports coupe arrived in the Merrimack Valley at the end of last year. The new 4 Series replaces the 3 Series Coupe, which was the two-door version of BMW’s popular 3 Series Sedan, a four-door car. But in its first six months, the newcomer is accomplishing more than the outgoing 3 Series Coupe ever did, reports Matt Quelch, new-car sales manager at Tulley BMW, Nashua, N.H. The new model is changing the complexion of BMW cars and BMW drivers, Quelch says.

First, some explanation.

People approach two-door cars as personal vehicles, while four-doors are more for group travel, especially family use. It’s simply easier for back-seat passengers to climb in and out of a four-door sedan. Therefore car companies typically make two-doors versions – when one is available – stand apart from its four-door counterpart by adding some dashing, sporty details that give the two-door coupe greater panache. Less family, more personal expression.

The biggest alteration is usually a lower rear roof line that slants faster toward the tail. It makes a two-door look racier than its four-door kin, but the lowered rear ceiling also makes the coupe even less accommodating for back-seat riders.

In its new 4 Series, BMW cuts back-seat cramps by making the model wider and longer than the 3 Series Coupe of last year. Although the 4 Series is built on the same fundamental underpinnings that BMW puts below its current 3 Series Sedan, the 4’s larger dimensions let stylists slope the back roof while still leaving more room in the rear seat.

Also, the 4 Series Coupe is set up for four passengers rather than five, with a useful divider between the two spots in the back. That makes for more elbow room. Sure, back-seat riders still must flip forward the front seats and snake through the forward doors. But once seated in the individually contoured rear places, they can expect a comfortable ride.

As a result, the BMW 4 Series is both styled for dramatic self-expression and equipped with a useful back seat.

“Everything about the car, the body lines — the aesthetics, the technology, everything about it — screams sports enthusiast,” said Quelch. “But at the same time, when you sit in the car, you see that you have a more sizable vehicle that accommodates not just yourself, but others.”

That twin character is causing a stir both inside and outside the BMW community, according to the Tulley sales manager. Tulley BMW of Nashua is part of the Tulley Automotive Group, a dealership family that also includes Tulley BMW of Manchester, N.H., plus Nashua’s Tulley Buick GMC and Tulley Mazda.

Inside the family, the new model is winning over faithful BMW drivers who see it as an alluring step up from the 3 Series, Quelch explained. It costs more. The 2014 4 Series starts at $41,425 for a rear-whee-drive version, and $43,425 for all-wheel drive. That works out to be $3,200 more than the starting list price for rear- and all-wheel-drive versions of the 2014 3 Series Sedan, when equipped with the same engine as a base-level 4 Series. But the extra dollars give some 3 Series drivers the breathtaking coupe they may have always wanted but never before purchased because the 3 Series Coupe was too cramped in back.

“It’s attracting folks who never entertained the idea of owning a coupe, because it didn’t fit their needs. They were concerned about having enough usable space for passengers,” Quelch said. “The 4 Series now offers those people the option of a coupe that can fit into their lifestyle.”

The same reasoning is bringing first-time BMW buyers to the 4 Series Coupe, Quelch said. New customers tell him they’re drawn to the unique, dual personality of the 4 Series.

“They see it as a model that stands on its own, with nothing else like it out there,” he said.

That assessment grows out of more than the car’s accommodating back seat, Quelch noted. As the newest automobile in BMW’s fleet of luxury vehicles, the 4 Series also stands out for its vivid, strikingly new appearance.

“The car has reached new levels of design and styling,” he said. “BMW has set the benchmark even higher. They’ve brought the sports coupe to a whole new level.”

BMW sells two variants of the new 4 Series Coupe. The rear-drive 428i uses a 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 435i comes with a 300 horsepower, turbocharged in-line six-cylinder. Both engines can be purchased with either a six-speed manual transmission, or an eight-speed automatic. Both also offer BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive option, at a $2,000 price bump.

Quelch sees the new model reshaping the field of sports coupes. It offers the driving dynamics and all the individual expression of a suave, sporty coupe, while it is practical enough to entice some sedan drivers to give up four doors.

Jeffrey Zygmont is an author of fiction and non-fiction books, and a long-time auto writer. Contact him at www.jeffreyzygmont.com.

2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe

Vehicle type: 2-door, 4-passenger, rear- and all-wheel-drive mid-size sports coupe

Price range: $41,425 to $48,925 (plus options)

Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles basic warranty; 12 years/unlimited miles corrosion warranty; 4 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance; 5 years/50,000 miles free maintenance

Base engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4

Power: 240 horsepower at 5,000 rpm; 255 lb.-ft. torque at 1,250 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 23 mpg city; 33 mpg highway

Wheelbase: 111 inches

Length: 183 inches

Width: 72 inches

Height: 54 inches

Weight: 3,470 pounds

Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons

Turning circle: 37.1 feet