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8/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: BMW 4 Series Coupe (2020)

£34,540£52,050
8/10
Overall verdict
An outstandingly sorted car, but something tells us you’ve already made your mind up about liking the 4 Series or not
 

For: 

Superb family of powertrains, precise handling, much-improved interior and refinement. It’s the complete package

Against: 

You might not like the taut ride. Apparently it’s a bit controversial-looking. Did you notice?

Overview

What is it?

The 4 Series Coupe is a 3 Series saloon on dress-down Friday. Two doors, a lower roofline, and a hunkered-down centre of gravity meet the peerless powertrains from BMW’s class-leading four-door. What used to be called the 3 Series Coupe is heartland BMW, and even with the switch to a ‘4’ on the bootlid on the last generation, it’s been nothing short of a sales phenomenon. No mean feat, as traditional coupes continue to lose the good fight to crossover SUVs.

For the new 4 Series, more has changed than you might first presume. It’s a bigger car this time: a massive 128mm longer and 27mm wider than before. BMW’s stretched the wheelbase, but the tracks are wider too: 18mm up front, and 28mm out back. That gives the car a punchier stance, and should be good news for the handling. 

With such girth, it was unlikely the new 4 would have a discreet presence on the road, and the thickset haunches and lumpy surfacing give it a hulking, almost American demeanour that isn’t exactly elegant. But BMW’s made doubly sure with That Grille. We’ll not go on about it – you’ll make up your own mind. You already have. In the UK, all 4s get this multi-nostril front end, with the M Sport kit. 

Okay, a couple of things to note: when you see the 4 Series in real life, you approach it from a viewpoint five or six feet in the air, not at the snake-eyes perspective preferred by photographers to make it look aggressive and snouty. So, the grille isn’t quite as in yer face as it looks in the pictures. 

On the other hand, when BMW invited Top Gear to drive the new 4, all the test cars were painted in dark colours and had the ‘High Gloss Shadowline’ option box ticked, which de-chromes the snout into a dowdy gloss black. Read into that what you will.

All engines are turbocharged: you’ve a choice of four cylinders or six, in either petrol or diesel guise. Rear-wheel drive is standard across the board, but there’s optional 4x4 ‘xDrive’ on the 420d and it’s standard on the flagship M440i. 

Soon of course, there’ll be a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive M4s. Shifting gears, meanwhile, is always the work of an eight-speed automatic. There’s no longer a manual on the 4’s price lists. 

Prices start at £39,870 for the 420i, while the entry-level diesel – the 420d – sets you back £43,090 with xDrive adding £1,550 on top. To get your straight-six kicks in the 385bhp M440i, you’ll need £53,875. As yet, there’s no ‘430e’ plug-in hybrid.

The key rivals for the 4 to take down are the ageing (but likeable) Mercedes C-Class coupe, and Audi’s comfy, fairly uninteresting A5. A big grille never did either of those two any harm. 

The idiosyncratic Lexus RC has been dropped from UK showrooms, and sadly Jaguar and Alfa Romeo haven’t had the inclination (or the budget) to give us two-door XEs and Giulias. That means the new 4 Series stands a pretty good chance of sweeping straight back to the top of the class – whether its bucktooth’d mug is enough to give you nightmares or not. 

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
435d xDrive M Sport 2dr Auto [Professional Media]
4.7s 163g/km 45.6 313 £49,150
The cheapest
420i Sport 2dr [Business Media]
7.3s 148g/km 42.8 184 £34,540
The greenest
420d [190] M Sport 2dr Auto [Professional Media]
7.2s 118g/km 60.1 190 £40,205

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