A few days ago I had the pleasure of viewing my very first M6 Gran Coupe and thought to myself, wow BMW is doing great things at the moment. From the brand’s flagship i8 right down to the 2 Series, BMW are designing truly beautiful cars and giving the consumer a hell of a lot of choice.
However, perhaps the most important release of late has been the 4 Series, priced between two series that have unintentionally defined the socioeconomic status of men all over the world for decades. Is the 4 Series the perfect balance of price and performance to attract a new type of buyer, one that hasn’t quite decided between it’s iconic 3 Series coupe predecessor and the higher brow 5 Series? We spent a week with the 428i to find out!
When I’m comparing cars the first question I ask myself is ‘what else can I get for the money?’ I never compare cars in the same category, all I want to know is what else is going to deliver me similar or better bang for buck at this price. So at $80,500 where my 428i starts there’s quite a bit of choice, not just from competing brands but also within BMW – namely the M235i. Unfortunately for BMW my previous media car was the sublime CLS 45 AMG, and with both cars featuring a european badge, sports performance, the same sized engine and a similar price tag, naturally I was going to compare the them.
The BMW 428i is a stunning automobile, perhaps the nicest on the road today. I think I was stopped on 3 occasions by older gentlemen who were just engrossed with the car’s beauty. It’s a good feeling driving a car that other people love to look at, especially the older generation – it makes you feel more mature and manly. I’m not sure if it’s some sort of unspoken club but driving a new BMW around has this sense of belonging or mutual respect, it’s like having a strong beard. Men pull up next to you and give you a nod, randomly give way to you and then appear out of nowhere to have a chat about the car every time you’re climbing in or out of the thing. It’s a brand that all men appreciate and I like it.
So to the car. The new 4 Series is flatter and wider than the existing 3 Series coupe which makes it appear more agile and poised. Under the sleek bonnet is BMW’s 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 180kw at the rear wheels. Shifting from the sombre Comfort mode into Sport I steered the BMW straight towards the national park where I got to sample the car’s exciting power delivery, superbly balanced chassis and precise steering. With tantilising low-end acceleration and virtually absent turbo lag the 428i propels itself with ease, before braking hard and tucking into corners with its adaptive sports suspension. Rear wheel drive makes the car especially involving. The rear is noticeably looser under power than the all wheel drive CLA, which keeps the hairs on the back of your neck at full mast!
For the BMW aficionados out there you’ll know that once upon a time the 428i badge came with a V6 under the bonnet. As noted previously this one is absent of the 6 cylinder engine however BMW have done a brilliant job of producing an emphatic exhaust note that provides a smile from ear to ear. Inside the cabin is much larger than expected and whilst luxurious appears both subtle and practical. The multimedia system is both excellent and infuriating, the split maps is epic but the Bluetooth is insanely fickle.
When using a third-party app like Soundcloud or Spotify to stream music via the car’s Bluetooth connection it automatically stops at the end of every track and reverts back to songs stored on the device’s hard drive (which is good when you have none!). You also cannot connect a new device without stopping the car, so none of your passengers can connect their device on the highway without you pulling over. Whilst these are small qualms they are irritating problems you’re likely to face everyday.
After I’d disregarded the Bluetooth issues the BMW 428i grew on me a lot as the week went on. It sets a new benchmark for ‘capable all rounder’, combining performance, luxury, fuel economy, and everyday drivability. Aesthetically I can’t fault it, it’s a thing of beauty, but I can’t help stacking it up next to the CLA 45 AMG. There’s no doubt that the BMW attracts a different customer to the Merc – those seeking understated luxury and performance, but if I was going to spend the money it’d be going to AMG.