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The BMW 4 Series has been around since 2013, and although the 4 Series line-up received new engines last year in line with the 3 Series LCI, the coupe derivatives have only just now received their own ‘Life Cycle Impulse’ – BMW speak for a face lift.  But with the range already boasting new engines, this means changes are more of a cosmetic nature rather than mechanical.

 

So what’s changed then?  Well changes vary from model to model, with the three 4 Series offerings targeting different audiences.  The 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe models, BMW says, are the core models that define brand values of involvement and driving pleasure, whereas the 4 Series Convertible is more of a lifestyle vehicle. As such, the Coupe and Gran Coupe receive more technical alterations, whereas the Convertible boasts predominantly aesthetic upgrades.

 

The driver’s models, the 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe, receive revised suspension settings that now include firmer suspension, but with up-rated dampers for better bump absorption.  Revisions to the electronic power-assisted steering (EPAS) have also been made, as well as recalibrated ABS braking and an adjustment to the chassis control systems.  They also get visual upgrades in the way of standard bi-LED headlamps, LED taillights, unique 4 Series alloy wheels, and metallic paint as standard.

 

The 4 Series Convertible has been upgraded primarily for comfort and style, receiving the bi-LED headlights, LED taillights, new alloys and metallic paint.  However some of the safety systems have been updated too, including the revised ABS, upgraded chassis control systems, and the updated steering setup.  Notably, and due to lack of sales, there are no longer any diesel engines available in the 4 Series Convertible.

 

The interior of the 4 Series has received minor tweaks to the design, including updated air vent surrounds and 3 new leather options for the upholstery.  Also available is a new multifunctional instrument display, which varies the gauge cluster information depending on driving mode, as well as an up-rated infotainment system from the 5- and 7 Series.

 

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All 4 Series models now also get unique 4 Series-only paint colours – Sunset Orange, and the incredible Snapper Rocks Blue – the latter of which is similar to the Long Beach Blue found on the M2.

 

At launch, through the twisting mountain roads around Nelspruit, we got the opportunity to sample the 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe derivatives, in 20d and 20i formats respectively.  BMW believes these will make up the bulk of sales and wanted to highlight the chassis changes rather than outright power.

 

Immediately, the suspension revisions are an improvement over the pre-LCI models.  The rear end of the 4 Series is now more planted than ever before, with high levels of mechanical grip and composure.  Whereas the LCI 3 Series’ revised suspension resulted in a corkscrew sensation under duress, the 4 Series feels planted and grippy at all times, whilst still maintaining levels of comfort.

 

But, the revised steering lacks the same sense of vast improvement.  EPAS systems are notorious for their lack of feel and communication, and in the 4 Series it is no different.  However, the steering is incredibly light – perhaps too much so – and even Sport and Sport+ modes don’t add sufficient weighting.

 

Reverse feedback makes its way through to the steering wheel from camber changes and bumps, but the lack of weight makes that feel disconcerting at speed.  There’s an area of play off centre, and weight doesn’t seem to pile on during cornering loads either, which results in a somewhat unreadable front end during cornering.  The grip is there, but the confidence is somewhat difficult to find, and because you can’t feel the tyres loading, it becomes easier to push into understeer in tight corners.

 

The 40mm lower centre of gravity, low-slung seating position, and wider front and rear tracks certainly make the 4 Series a keener prospect for those who hunger after BMW’s famed driving prowess.  But despite being capable, the light steering and slightly vague front end detract from the sharp-edged precision the 4 Series is intended to stand for.

 

In the way of engines, the 420d and 420i are dead evenly matched on performance despite the 5kW difference – but the masses of torque (400Nm) and impressive fuel economy on offer from the diesel make the 420d the thinking man’s choice – although the throttle response of the 420i will make it the driver’s choice.

 

BMW has now upped the standard of the 4 Series, from both technological and individuality aspects, but pricing has been kept within a fairly acceptable range.  Impressively, the 4 Series Gran Coupe pricing is identical to the Coupe models on a like for like basis – offering a stylish alternative to the 3 Series with a slightly more driver-orientated edge.

 

BMW 4 Series Priced from:
Body Style 420d 420i 430i 440i
4 Series Coupe R639 300 R603 200 R690 300 R861 100
4 Series Gran Coupe R639 300 R603 200 R690 300 R861 100
4 Series Convertible R715 400 R827 600 R985 100

 

The BMW M4 hasn’t avoided updating with the 4 Series LCI.  Though power outputs remain unchanged, the bi-LED headlights and LED taillight upgrades apply.  The M4 Competition pack now gets unique CP seats, an additional USB port, and a new media interface derived from the systems in the 7- and 5 Series.

 

The BMW M4 Coupe is priced at R1 267 800, with the Convertible starting from R1 430 700.  The Competition Package adds a further R135 900 to the price for the additional 14kW, 280km/h top speed, Sports Exhaust, Adaptive M Suspension, Active M Differential, and star-spoke wheels.

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