The BMW 4 Series is built on the platform of the 3 Series, and is the same size. The 2017 BMW 4 Series comes in two-door Coupe, hardtop Convertible, and five-door Gran Coupe versions, while the 3 is a sedan or wagon. Rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are offered, even on the Convertible.
There are two new engines, resulting in the 2017 BMW 430i from the previous 428i, and the 2017 BMW 440i from the previous 435i.
The four- and inline six-cylinder turbocharged engines are both new for 2017. The BMW 430i with the 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 258 pound-feet of torque, while the BMW 440i with the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 makes a healthy 320 horsepower with an emphatic 330 pound-feet of torque.
All models offer a flawless eight-speed automatic, though an engaging six-speed manual transmission is also available for the Coupe.
BMW created the 4 Series out of the 3 Series, but lost that old BMW magic in the process. We find the value in the 4 Series questionable, and its appearance frumpy compared to the Mercedes C-Class. The Gran Coupe seems to combine the best of the 3 and 4, which makes it the best of the 4 Series models. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has more room inside, with a sleek profile outside.
The 2017 BMW 430i coupe with the eight-speed automatic gets 23 miles per gallon City, 34 mpg Highway, and 27 mpg Combined. On the far side, the BMW 440i xDrive convertible gets an EPA-estimated 20/30/24 mpg.
The 2017 BMW 430i Coupe ($42,150), BMW 430i Convertible ($50,300), and BMW 430i Gran Coupe ($41,950) come with the four-cylinder engine, leatherette upholstery, air conditioning. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The BMW 440i Coupe ($48,500) and BMW 440i Gran Coupe ($48,300) include the six-cylinder engine; the BMW 440i Convertible ($57,300) also upgrades to leather upholstery.
All-wheel drive comes on models denoted xDrive; the sDrive models are rear-wheel drive.
Leather upholstery and wood trim are optional. Navigation, rearview camera, and Apple CarPlay are options. M Sport packages include sports suspension, wheels and tires, and special trim. The Track Package has active suspension and bigger brakes.
BMW designers wanted the 4 Series to look more classic, not quite retro but more classic like the old 3 Series. The final result looks broader and bolder than the 3, and it looks excellent in profile, a nice balance of steel and glass, low roofline, sharp shoulder line, and stance of an athlete. The front fascia is creative. But it still can’t hold a candle to the styling of the Mercedes C-Class.
The adventurous cabin presents sweeping arcs and flashy trim options, for example red-stitched leather, and red things in the instrument cluster.
If it’s not a driver’s cockpit, it’s a driver’s layout, distanced from the passenger by arcs of plastic, wood and metal on the center stack
The Convertible’s hardtop folds and stows in 20 seconds, into the trunk that still retains 7.8 of its 13.0 cubic feet, with room for growth, as the rear seatback folds, leaving a space to the trunk. The Convertible comes with a windblock and neck warmers.
The 4 Series is poised and confident. It’s a superb grand touring car, handling well at high speed, stable at speed or under hard braking.
Power from the engines comes on at low rpm. In daily driving, that torque makes pulling away from a stop sign or stoplight easy and strong, with a lighter touch on the gas pedal.
In the four-cylinder 430i, the peak 258 pound-feet of torque is available way down at 1450 rpm, the beginning of acceleration. The 330 pound-feet from the inline six-cylinder turbo is available at a mere 1380 rpm.
Driving Dynamics Control does what it says, allows the driver to control the dynamics, by setting modes. In Sport or Sport Plus, the throttle zips, the transmission snaps, the steering pounces, and stability control relaxes.
The suspension has a lot of aluminum bits, and it’s stiffer than ever. The steering is better than the old 3 Series, which wasn’t too good. It’s okay on a 430i coupe, but doesn’t handle the optional 18- and 19-inch wheels so well. The steering gets heavier than it needs to be, stealing the feeling of the road. The Variable Sports steering changes the steering ratio, and feels more enthusiastic.
The 2017 BMW 4 Series is not exactly the freshest or lowest-cost model. An updated 4 Series has been announced for the 2018 model year.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.