• Image Credit: BMW
I have to admit that I have a hard time keeping some vehicle names straight, especially with luxury cars. With different, often seemingly random combinations of letters and numbers, it can be very difficult to remember which model is which.

BMW has decided to make things even trickier by adding a few new numbers to its line. Basically, going forward, any BMW that starts with an even number is a coupe or convertible and anything that starts with an odd number is a sedan or wagon. This rule, though, does not apply to the German automaker's SUVs or performance cars, which start with letters. Got it?

The 4 Series is a new model for BMW that has emerged out of this new naming convention. At first glance, it's easy to write it off as simply a renamed 3 Series coupe. And it is, in a way, considering both the 3 Series and 4 Series use the same engines, employ similar styling and are almost identical in size. But BMW has made some tweaks inside and out that give the new 4 Series more refinement and sportiness, setting it further apart from the sedan. 

I recently spent a week with the new 428i, and in spite of my initial cynicism that this new car is nothing more than marketing ploy, I'm convinced that it's much more than just a renaming effort aimed at cheaply revitalizing the BMW brand. It's a distinct, immensely sporty luxury coupe worthy of carrying its own nameplate as well as the BMW badge. Read on for more.

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The Basics
  • Image Credit: BMW

The Basics

Sticker Price: $40,500 - $42,500

Invoice Price: $37,260 - $39,100

As Tested Price: $48,075

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L I4

Power: 240 horsepower, 255 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Fuel Economy: 23 mpg city, 35 mpg highway

Seating: Four people

Cargo Capacity: 15.7 cubic feet

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Exterior Design
  • Image Credit: BMW

Exterior Design

Having only two doors makes the 4 Series recognizable as an individual BMW model, but it also sets itself apart from the 3 Series sedan in a few other ways with its exterior look.

The 4 Series coupe is lower and wider than the 3 Series, which is beneficial for both aesthetics and driving dynamics (more on that later). The car also has shorter overhangs on the front and back, slimmer headlights and employs a striking sculpted line that extends down its side.

The coupe has larger air intakes, as though it's driving around with its mouth agape. It's not a particularly pretty sight. Conversely, even though it's a small touch, I really enjoy the blue-painted brakes that BMW has been employing for the past couple years on certain models and trims. It gives the car a little extra character and differentiation when viewed from the side.

Overall, I think the 4 Series is handsome, though BMW could tone down the front fascia. It employs an aggressive look, but more in sleekness than in muscle. In spite of its attractiveness, it's still not the best-looking luxury coupe out there, though. That distinction belongs to the Audi A5.

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Interior
  • Image Credit: BMW

Interior

The 4 Series comes with a classic BMW cabin, which includes very nice leather seats, a great thick steering wheel, a high level of sound dampening and a modern aesthetic. There are hints of luxury all around, such as the wood grain trim and soft-touch materials on the dashboard and doors. Disappointingly, the 4 Series I drove did not have heated or cooled seats.

It's very driver-focused inside. In fact, there's an actual physical bar that separates the driver from the passenger, giving the cabin more of a cockpit feel if you're behind the wheel. 

Overall, it's a good interior, but it's not great. The cabin is probably the least notable aspect of the car, and comparing it to the competition, I have to admit that I'd rather be inside an Audi. Still, you'll find the BMW perfectly comfortable.

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Passenger And Cargo Room
  • Image Credit: BMW

Passenger And Cargo Room

Like many other coupes, the 4 Series has a headroom problem. Because of its sloped roofline, which gives the car that sleek shape when viewed from the outside, the amount of space between the driver's noggin and the padded-felt ceiling is minimal. I'm about six feet tall, and even with the seat lowered all the way down, I still felt cramped.

Passenger space in the rear isn't bad, but the lack of headroom is a problem back there, too. Adults will find it pretty tight. The 4 Series can only seat two people in the back seat, so its versatility is limited. 

Cargo room is adequate for a trip to the grocery store. The rear seats can split and fold down for larger ticket items.

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Driving Dynamics
  • Image Credit: BMW

Driving Dynamics

Although BMW has downsized the its base engine to a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder -- had this car come out just a few years ago it, it would have been powered by a six-cylinder engine -- the 428i is certainly not lacking in power. From a dead stop, the car roars to life with a surprisingly deep, throaty exhaust, and makes use of 240 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque to propel the driver to 60 mph in just less than six seconds. You'll beat most other commuters at the stoplights on your way to work, I can promise you that.

Many cars employing these smaller, turbocharged engines suffer from turbo lag. That's a term used to describe the period of time during which the car starts to accelerate, but the turbocharger has not yet kicked in. Often, drivers will experience a jerky, uncomfortable ride due to this problem. In the 4 Series, however, turbo lag is almost nonexistent and acceleration is a smooth and fun experience.

BMW's are well-regarded for their handling dynamics, and the 4 Series continues that tradition. The car has an almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution and a very low center of gravity, in part due to those exterior design tweaks I touched on earlier. This allows you to corner effortlessly at high speeds and makes the coupe a fantastic vehicle to take for weekend drives along winding roads.

All in all, this is a very engaging car to drive. Handling is fantastic and, with the new engine, power is more than adequate and the car can still return solid fuel economy numbers. That's the ultimate combination in my book.

Research the BMW 428i
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Technology And Infotainment
  • Image Credit: BMW

Technology And Infotainment

The 4 Series, like the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, employs a pop-up infotainment screen that contains most of the controls. The driver scrolls through menus using a dial located between the two front seats. I tend to like controlling everything from a knob instead of a touchscreen, as it allows me to spend more with my eyes on the road. 

The infotainment includes the usual features, like Bluetooth connectivity and nice speakers, and it works quite well. But, notably, my tester did not come with a navigation system. That's surprising, considering the total cost of all of the options on my test car was around $6,000.

Research the BMW 428i
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Bottom Line
  • Image Credit: BMW

Bottom Line

Comparing the coupe to the 3 Series sedan, which I drove a few months ago, I can avow that the 4 Series is the sportier and, overall, more enjoyable vehicle. It's wonderfully fun to drive with a great exterior aesthetic and a refined comfortable cabin. It's one of the more engaging cars you can buy that has a usable -- albeit small -- back seat.

The 4 Series does come with a classic BMW problem: A high price despite a couple of glaring gaps in features. My tester, which came with the "M Sport" package that included a lot of options, cost just over $48,000. That is a lot of money for a vehicle that doesn't have navigation or heated seats. You can get that stuff in an $18,000 vehicle these days.

If you place a high value on driving dynamics like I do, though, you can make an argument for the 4 Series costing as much as it does. After all, it requires a lot of money for BMW to keep those brilliant German engineers cranking out better and better cars. Clearly, that cash is not all going to the marketing department.

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