With the plethora of new models joining the vehicle market each year, you can be assured there will always be something to suit any taste or requirement.
There are cars that fulfil a straightforward goal, and there are the newer breed of, well, crossbreeds that attempt to be all things to all people. Take BMW’s X6 Sports Activity Vehicle, which blends the height and dirt-road-tackling ability one desires in a 4×4 with the rakish looks and dynamic on-road performance of a sports coupe.
Sometimes, though, a car comes on to the market that doesn’t attempt to be all things to all people, but does everything so well that you still find yourself asking: could anybody possibly need any more than this? The new BMW 4 Series, and in particular the 435i Coupe featured here, could be that exact car.
For all of you going “I’ve never heard of a 4 Series”, BMW’s new naming convention basically assigns all traditional odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7) to sedans and hatchbacks and the evens (2, 4, 6) to their Coupe and Cabriolet siblings.
The 4 Series Coupe, then, is a jeans-and-t-shirt 3 Series in a striking, sophisticated Armani (probably) suit. The 4 Series is pure contemporary BMW and its low, sleek form has contours and curves in all the right places. The BMW kidney grill is wider and sleeker than that on the 3, while the rear aspect is tauter. Viewed in profile, it’s an evocative, sensually shaped beast that seduces you into running your hands along its broad shoulder lines and perfectly proportioned coupe profile.
Our car was also equipped with the Sportline trim option, which adorns it with subtle black gloss highlights that accentuate the car’s sporty, sophisticated demeanour. Opening the wide, heavy door, you drop low into a cabin adorned with fine leather. The Sportline trim is extended to the interior with Coral Red matte trim finishes along the doors and dashboard. It’s a spacious, finely sculpted interior; functional and ergonomic.
Most operations are controlled by the car’s standard iDrive system that includes a great navigation system, DVD player and a host of other handy features. The front sports seats are a bit firm but infinitely electrically adjustable – so a perfect, commanding driving position is easily attainable.
This is a good thing; because the 435i is, after all, a BMW. And powerful, sporty BMW’s are made for the driving enthusiast. Motive power comes from the familiar single-turbo three-litre straight six that produces 225 kW and 400 Nm and, as you’d imagine from such stats, it’s rather quick. The 0-100 km/h sprint is dispatched in 5,1 seconds and the car tops out at 250 km/h. It is an utterly superb engine that powers the 435i along effortlessly with an accompanying soundtrack that is brutal and silky-smooth all at once. BMW says it is, or can be, quite frugal, too; claiming consumption of 7,2 l/100 km and 169 g/km CO2 emissions.
The engine drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox that never puts a foot wrong no matter what you ask of it in any of the four driving modes – which range from the smooth, quiet planet-loving EcoPro to the hold-on-tight and say-yer-prayers Sport+. The 435i comes standard with M Sports Suspension, and mechanical grip and chassis control is excellent – importantly, not at the ultimate expense of ride comfort.
You can provoke it into doing some naughty, tyre-squeally stuff, with all the sharpness Sport+ dials into the drivetrain, or soothe your soul – and your fuel bill – when in Comfort or EcoPro modes (provided you’re on smooth tar, that is, because the ultra-low profile 19-inch wheels can create unwelcome road noise).
If you have some extra money to throw around, BMW offers some nifty toys to make your driving experience even more soothing. Our car was fitted with the usuals, like a sunroof and park distance control (front and rear), but it also featured some really impressive options too.
The adaptive LED headlights are brilliant and the lane change warning (that picks up traffic in your blindspots and alerts you before you move over into its path) is recommended for drivers who tend to not pay attention … then there’s the Active Cruise Control and Surround View Park Assist.
If there was ever proof that we’re edging slowly to autonomous cars, Active Cruise Control is one of those systems that you can’t ignore. It uses a radar sensor mounted under the car’s front bumper to permanently monitor the vehicle in front. Set the speed and steer is the process thereafter – the BMW brakes when the car ahead brakes and accelerates when it accelerates. It’s a great system, but my worry is that it’ll make its driver lazy; with a negative impact on road safety.
Surround view park assist makes use of six cameras that work together to create a bird’s eye view of the car and its immediate surroundings, displayed on the central screen.
Parking, as you’d imagine, is a breeze (you still have to do all the wheel twirling yourself with this system …). In all, our 435i was fitted with an eye-watering R110 400 worth of extras!
That makes it expensive … Thankfully, though, the car comes decently equipped at the R718 900 base price. It’s covered by a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty and five-year/100 000 km Motorplan.
So, could anyone possibly need any more than this? The more hard-core would say they’d spend the extra on the recently-launched M4 (the coupe version of the M3), and the more flamboyant might opt for the convertible. For me, the 435i Coupe is the one just does everything that well. And I don’t think I’d need any more.