With the first two generations of BMW 3 Series, the two-door model was a less practical saloon rather than a stylish coupé. When the third-generation 3 Series appeared in 1990, the two-door car was pitched as a sleeker, premium model, so it was now a proper coupé.

BMW stuck to this formula for the next two generations of 3 Series, but for the Mk6 car there was a significant change: the 3 Series morphed into the 4 Series. As before, there were coupé or coupé-cabriolet models powered by efficient four or six-cylinder petrol or diesel engines. Here’s how to buy the right 4 Series. 

Models covered

  • • BMW 4 Series (2013-date) – Whether you go for a Coupé or Convertible, sports car will be a winner. 

BMW 4 Series Mk1

History

The 4 Series Coupé replaced the 3 Series in summer 2013, followed by the folding metal hard-top Convertible a few months later. At first there were just 420d, 428i and 435i cars, but the 425d and 430d xDrive Coupés followed in March 2014.

Five months later, the Convertible range was boosted by 420i, 425d, 430d and 435d xDrive editions. In March 2016 the 326bhp auto-only, twin-turbo 3.0-litre 440i replaced the 306bhp 435i. At the same time the 420i (in rear-drive and xDrive four-wheel-drive forms) and 430i received a new, more powerful engine.

A facelifted 4 Series was launched in February 2017 with a new nose, more paint options, an upgraded interior, LED headlights and recalibrated suspension.

BMW 4 Series reviews

BMW 4 Series in-depth review
BMW 420d review
BMW 435d review
BMW 435i review
BMW 440i review
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe in-depth review
BMW 418d Gran Coupe review
BMW 430d Gran Coupe review
BMW 4 Series Convertible in-depth review
BMW 435i Convertible review

Which one should I buy?

None of the engines is weak, but the six-cylinder units have a gorgeous soundtrack that’s absent from the four-cylinders, which still offer better economy and enough power for everyday driving.

The gearboxes are good, too; a great six-speed manual was standard, but an eight-speed auto was an option. SE trim features 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, leather trim, all-round parking sensors, xenon lights and heated front seats.

Sport, Modern and Luxury editions add 18-inch rims and sports seats. M Sport cars bring sports suspension and styling; six-cylinder models have metallic paint. 

Alternatives to the BMW 4 Series

The closest rival is the rear-wheel-drive Mercedes C-Class, which features a wide choice of engines and comes in Coupé or soft-top Cabriolet guises. It isn’t as much fun as the BMW, but it’s superbly built, reliable and has a cast-iron image, although used prices tend to be high.

The Audi A5 comes in front or four-wheel-drive forms, the latter massively improving usability in the winter. As with the BMW, you can take excellent build quality, practicality and efficient engines for granted. The Audi TT is offered in Roadster or more practical hatchback variants, while the Volkswagen Scirocco comes only as a very usable hatchback. 

What to look for

Base trim

A new entry-level 418d Coupé arrived in spring 2015, with a detuned 2.0-litre engine.

Spare wheel

There’s no need to carry a spare wheel, because all 4 Series models come with run-flat tyres. 

Modes

Drive Performance Control is standard; it adjusts the throttle response, steering and suspension. 

Corroded rims

Alloy wheel corrosion around the centre caps isn’t unusual; dealers will replace wheels under warranty.

Interior

Those in the front of a 4 Series get the best seats. They’re supportive and have plenty of adjustment, plus there’s lots of head and legroom. Anyone under six feet is fine in the rear, but only if those in front aren’t tall, or are considerate with their seat positions. The car seats only four, but boot space isn’t bad, at 445 litres, although the cabrio cuts this to just 370 litres.

Running costs

The 4 Series has variable servicing, so the car flags up when it needs attention. No two check-ups cost the same, but they’re typically every 18,000 miles or two years.

An oil change is £179 to £215 depending on model; a full service with filters is £411 to £561. All engines are chain-driven, so there are no cambelts to renew. The coolant never needs replacing. The brake fluid should be refreshed every two years, at a cost of £93.

Recalls

There have been six recalls for the 4 Series. The first came in January 2015 to deal with seatbelt concerns. The engine stalling and the rear axle working loose prompted action in June 2015 and October 2016.

In December 2016 a campaign started for possible electric power steering faults. The most recent recalls, in January and September 2017, related to glitches with the airbags and front seat securing mechanism respectively.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The 4 Series was 54th in our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey. Owners were most impressed by the car’s connectivity, ranking it in 22nd place here, and the BMW scored well for its low running costs. After that the car did surprisingly poorly, with disappointing scores for reliability, exterior finish and, incredibly, ride and handling.

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