2018 BMW 4 Series First Drive Review

Sporty coupes usually sell in such small numbers that they don’t earn redesigns until long after their hotter-selling sedan and CUV stablemates have been freshened. But because BMW snuck a four-door “Gran Coupe” into the 4 Series lineup (accounting for more than half its volume), the model has sold 400,000 units in four years, earning itself a redo. In all, some 2,500 parts have been redesigned for 2018, and not too surprisingly the focus is less on reprettying an already pretty package and more on improving what lies beneath.

2018 BMW 4

All but the most devoted fans of the brand will need a field guide to spot the 2018s. Outside, the front and rear lighting and wheel designs are new, and non-M Sport cars get revised front and rear fascias. There are also two new colors–Sunset Orange and Snapper Rocks Blue (named for a beach on Australia’s Gold Coast). The front fascia reboot connects the formerly separate lower outboard air inlets with a trim strip that aims to visually widen the front end.

Inside, a new sportier steering wheel rim is lined with a material that makes it easier to grip. There’s fancier double stitching on the dash and new leather colors and trim offerings that are said to broaden the possibilities for personalizing the 4. A fancier new multifunction instrument cluster is available with the $2,300 Premium package. It provides three greatly differentiated gauge views, each tied to the default Comfort, Sport, and EcoPro driving modes. The first is very traditional BMW. Sport switches to a red color theme with a large digital speedometer reading and a gear reading inside the simplified tach. EcoPro trades the tach for an efficiency meter and a blue color scheme. Finally, the central iDrive display becomes a touchscreen adapting BMWs new look with the various functions on six separate tiles that can be arrayed as the driver wishes across two screen pages.

So much for the skin-deep spiffs. Let’s get to the functional suspension, steering, and brake upgrades. All 4s get new faster-acting antilock brake actuators (with lower-inertia moving parts) that improve braking precision and should shorten our 600 stopping distances by a few feet. Revised steering tuning yields slightly more effort just off center, giving way to more linear response thereafter. Fixed-roof 4s also get front and rear anti-roll bars that are stiffened by 1015 percent, and this combined with slightly increased camber is said to boost lateral cornering performance noticeably.

Appropriately, the modest upgrades bring modest pricing: 430i models increase by $250, and 430i models go up $200. We have always liked driving 4 Series cars almost as much as we like looking at them. By focusing more effort under the skin, BMW might have just helped balance our opinion of the fetching 4.

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