BMW 4 series VS Audi RS7
BMW 4 series
- 'Old' multimedia system is still great
- Superb engine-transmission combo
- Sublime ride and handling balance
- Limited in-cabin storage options
- Substandard warranty
- New-generation model due soon
- A V8 with 800Nm? Yes please
- Hatchback practicality
- Standard air suspension
- Limited rear headroom
- Rear legroom could be better
- Cabin storage isn't great
BMW 4 series
Life comes at you fast, especially in the automotive industry, where model lifecycles are becoming shorter as each new generation comes and goes.
Take the BMW 4 Series for instance. It’s been a segment stalwart since 2013, but the current model’s time in the sun is finally coming to an end a little later this year.
And that got us thinking whether or not the old saying rings true in this context. So, we put the flagship 440i coupe to test to find out if the older you get, the wiser you are.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
If you’re looking for a sedan version of the RS 6 Avant, then you’ve come to the right place – sort of. See there is no RS 6 Sedan, but the RS 7 Sportback is the next best thing – you may even find it an even better thing because not only does it share RS 6 Avant’s outrageous engine and high-performance hardware, it’s also a sedan …but with a hatchback.
And if that kind of thing makes you happy, sit down – because the new generation RS 7 Sportback has just landed.
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
BMW 4 series7.5/10
Is now the right time to buy a 4 Series coupe? With the next-generation model a matter of months away, probably not.
That said, those buyers who decide to park a new ‘old’ 4 Series coupe in their driveway will be very pleased with their purchase.
At the end of the day, the current-generation model is still a cracking sports-luxury coupe, and more so when in 440i form. It’s just that good.
The new-generation RS 7 Sportback heralds the further evolution of this large majestic beast, with more features, a beautifully finished cabin and with more grunt with the looks to match. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of power, dynamics and comfort in the Audi range – apart from in the RS 6 Avant of course.
BMW 4 series7/10
The first-generation 4 Series coupe has aged relatively well, despite sharing most of its design cues with the superseded sixth-generation 3 Series sedan.
Compared to current BMW models, the 4 Series coupe’s signature kidney grille is small, flanked by angry-looking adaptive headlights with hexagonal daytime running lights, all of which are of the LED variety.
The 440i’s standard M Sport body kit adds to the aggressive styling with chunky front bumper with three large air intakes, the outer two of which also contain the LED fog lights.
Around the side, a strong shoulder line stretches from the front wheel arches to beyond their rear counterparts, while BMW’s Air Curtains split the difference between it and the sporty skirts.
The rear end is the 440i’s simplest angle, although its bumper is spruced up with a dark-grey insert and dual exhaust tailpipes. Predictably, L-shaped LED tail-lights punctuate the styling at the rear.
Inside, the 4 Series coupe is holding up well, but it's still clearly a generation behind most other new BMW models.
That said, it’s a throwback we quite like, particularly iDrive6, which is still arguably BMW’s best multimedia system to date. Powering a floating 8.8-inch touchscreen in this instance, it’s just so intuitive, partly thanks to its rotary controller.
An 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster is a late-life addition for the 440i, and while it looks great with its drive mode-specific views, it lacks the breadth of functionality of Audi’s set-up.
The 4 Series coupe’s cabin is otherwise pretty basic despite its apparent emphasis on sportiness, although the selection of luxurious materials used throughout is top-notch.
The entire dashboard, chunky M Sport steering wheel and old-school handbrake lever are trimmed in high-quality leather, while lower-quality Dakota leather covers the sports seats, armrests and door inserts.
Soft-touch plastic is used for the door shoulders and bins, even in the second row, while hard plastic is limited to the centre console, and gloss-black trim is used on the centre stack’s audio and dual-zone climate control surrounds.
The big news is the RS 7 Sportback now comes with five seats. The previous generation car had just two seats in the second row. I'll talk more on practicality below but for now let's examine the new styling.
This RS 7 Sportback has new broad, black mesh grille, flanked by gigantic side air intakes, narrow headlights, and a thin upper air inlet which is a hat tip to early racing Audis.
While that new angrier, more angular and menacing face is a showstopper, everything about the new RS 7 Sportback seems to be accentuated further.
Look at the wheels. The previous generation came with 21-inch rims, now the new normal for the RS 7 are 22-inches – they're huge. Those wheel guards also flare out 20mm more than a regular A7's and the rear haunches have bulked up massively.
Come to the back of the car and the diffuser and bumper have also been beefed up. Nobody sitting behind you in traffic is going to think this is just a regular A7.
Don't expect the RS 7 Sportback's insides to be just as hardcore as its exterior. The cabin is almost identical to a regular A7's. It's a stunning cockpit dominated by a dash which protrudes back towards the passengers and houses the media screen. Anther display for climate is set into the big centre console which divides the driver and co-pilot into almost cocooned cells.
The cabin isn't without its RS touches though – there's the sports seats with honeycomb stitching, fully digital instrument cluster with RS specific meters, the RS steering wheel, the Nappa leather on the dashboard and the doors, the aluminium inlays. The level of fit and finish is up there with the best that I've seen on any production car.
The RS 7 Avant is 5009mm long, 1424mm tall and 1950mm across for a wide planted stance.
BMW 4 series7/10
Measuring 4640mm long, 1825mm wide and 1377mm tall, the 440i coupe is a true mid-sizer, and that means it’s surprisingly practical – for the most part.
Cargo capacity is more than solid, at 445L, but stow the 60/40 split-fold rear bench via a pair of manual latches located in the boot and more storage space is quickly liberated.
To make matters even better, the boot has two bag hooks and four tie-down points, making securing a load a cinch. That said, the high load lip means bulkier items can require a little more effort to accommodate.
Up front, the door bins are large enough for a regular bottle each, while a pair of cupholders separate the gear selector from a seriously shallow storage tray.
The central storage bin is on the shallow side, too, albeit not to the same degree as the dedicated storage tray. That said, much of its space can be taken up by the optional wireless smartphone charger ($200), which was fitted to our test car.
The glovebox tries its best to make up for the lack of genuine in-cabin storage options by being quite large, while storage nets are attached to the backs of the front seats.
Rear occupants can also make use of a large storage tray that resides where a middle seat would otherwise go. They also have access to a fold-down central armrest that incorporates two more cupholders.
Speaking of armrests, the rear side ones are incredibly narrow, leaving tired elbows in a bit of a pickle.
It’s not all bad news in the second row, though, as legroom and toe-room behind our 184cm driving position are very generous, with the former offering several inches of wriggle room.
We’d go as far as to say the rear quarters are comfortable, but that would require ignoring the fact that headroom is seriously compromised with the optional power-operated sunroof ($3000) fitted, with our head pressed firmly against the 440i coupe’s Anthracite roofliner.
Either way, child seats can be fitted in the second row, with ISOFIX anchorage points available for the outer seats. Speaking of which, it’s worth noting ingress and egress to the rear bench isn’t too bad, with the front seats folding forward via manual latches.
Connectivity-wise, two USB-A ports are found in the first row, split between the centre stack and the central storage bin, while three 12V power outlets are spread across the front and rear of the centre console, and the boot.
The previous RS 7 Sportback was a four-seater, now it has five seats. That's right, a middle seat has been added to the second row, but, as you'd expect, it's not the best place be in the RS 7 Sportback, straddling the large driveshaft and ducking under the low roof-line.
That fastback profile does mean headroom in the second row is nowhere near as good as the RS 6 Avant's, but legroom is the same and, at 191cm tall, I can just fit behind my driving position with about 10mm to spare.
Up front it's not as spacious as you might think. That stepped dash protrudes into the passenger's space, the door pockets are thin and the centre console storage under the armrest is small.
For phones there's a wireless charger and two USB ports in the centre console storage box, while back seat passengers have two USB ports and a 12V outlets. There's also directional air vents and dual-zone climate control in the rear, too.
Price and features
BMW 4 series7/10
The 440i coupe is priced from $103,200 plus on-road costs, positioning it as a more affordable alternative to its main rivals, the Audi S5 coupe ($105,400) and Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe ($116,500), although it’s not as fully featured.
Standard equipment not already mentioned in the 440i coupe includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, a mixed set of run-flat tyres (front: 225/40, rear: 255/35) and power-folding side mirrors with heating.
Inside, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, a 600W Harman/Kardon sound system with 16 speakers, a windshield-projected head-up display, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable front seats with heating, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and ambient lighting feature.
The Audi RS 7 Sportback lists for $224,000, which is exactly $8K more than the RS 6 Avant.
Coming standard are the enormous 22-inch alloy wheels, the matrix LED headlights with laser lights, metallic paint, a panoramic glass sunroof (which is new to the model), privacy glass, head-up display, soft-close doors and red brake calipers.
Inside there's the Bang and Olufsen 16-speaker sound system (that new, too), sat nav, the 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay (new, as well), wireless charging, full leather upholstery with RS sport front seats that are heated and now come with ventilation as standard, and four-zone climate control.
I've left off all the standard RS mechanical equipment, but I'll cover that in the driving section below.
Is it good value? Well the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 S is $186,435 but it has way less grunt, the Alpina B5 which I've also road-tested lists for $210,000 and there's the Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo for $236,300.
Engine & trans
BMW 4 series9/10
The 440i coupe is motivated by a silky smooth 3.0-litre turbo-petrol in-line six-cylinder engine that punches out 240kW of power at 5500rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1380-5000rpm.
An equally silky smooth eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission exclusively sends drive to the rear wheels – a characteristic that has become a rarity in this segment.
This combination helps the 440i coupe sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in a scant five seconds flat with launch control engaged, according to BMW. Its top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h.
That's almost 600 horsepower and the supercar acceleration that goes with it is brutal: we're talking 0-100km/h coming in 3.6 seconds. That also matches the RS 6 Avant and it's a tenth of a second faster than the Audi R8 V10 RWD supercar, (and also the previous-gen RS 7 Sportback Performance) and this is a large, four-door, five-seater.
Compared to the previous generation RS 7 Sportback Performance the power is down by 4kW, but torque is up by a whopping 100Nm. Give me torque over power any day.
BMW 4 series8/10
The 440i coupe will drink a claimed 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, while its carbon dioxide emissions are 159 grams per kilometre.
Our week of testing skewed towards city driving over highway stints, and we averaged 8.6L/100km, which is impressive given the six-cylinder performance on offer. And yes, we did put it to use...
The 440i coupe's 60L fuel tank takes 95RON petrol at minimum.
This is a large, all-wheel drive car with a 600 horsepower V8, but it also has a mild hybrid system in this new generation, which will switch the engine off at let the car coast down hills or at speeds under 22km/h.
Audi says this can save up to 0.8L/100km in real-life driving. That's great news, but consumption is still fairly high with Audi saying that after a combination of open and urban roads the RS 7 Sportback will have used 11.6L/100km.
BMW 4 series8/10
The 440i coupe toe the line between sports car and luxury vehicle very, very well.
The straight-line performance is definitely there thanks to its in-line six-cylinder unit, which is one of our favourite engines in any vehicle – period.
From top to bottom, the 3.0-litre unit is absolutely delicious. Maximum torque kicks in just above idle and remains on tap deep into the top end, at which point a fleeting moment of peak power is just 500rpm away. Needless to say, acceleration is strong.
Remarkably, the engine’s twin-scroll turbo exhibits next to no lag, making for a unit that you truly want to wring out. That said, don’t expect aural pleasure when you do so, as the sound it generates is lacklustre. Yep, no enticing crackles or pops are heard here.
The automatic transmission ties everything together beautifully, providing timely, quick and smooth gear changes on the regular, even without its Sport mode engaged. And, of course, there are paddle-shifters on hand if you want to take matters into your own hands – literally.
Given the 440i coupe’s apparent performance bent, you’d be forgiven for thinking it rides like an unforgiving sports car. Well, the good news is it doesn’t.
While potholes and coarse-chip roads would usually be met with hesitation, the 440i coupe silences the doubters with its composed ride. Can you feel them? Yes, but they’re relatively muted, especially in a car with sporty aspirations, like this one.
Simply put, the 440i coupe loves a twisty stretch of road, where its M Sport brakes (front: four-piston fixed callipers, rear: two-pot floating stoppers) and traditional rear-wheel-drive dynamics come out to play.
This experience is enhanced by its superb electric power steering, which is speed-sensitive, meaning it’s quick at low speed, for improved manoeuvrability, and ‘slow’ at high speed, for improved stability.
We absolutely adore this particular system, mainly because of its perfect weighting and surprising amount of feel. And in a surprise to no-one, it also turns in really well, too.
Of course, if you want to take the 440i coupe’s handling to the next level, you can engage its Sport drive mode, which stiffens up the adaptive dampers for even flatter cornering and adds more heft to the electric power steering. But we’d say both are unnecessary.
I've never met an RS model that hasn't been great to drive – these cars are way more than just tough body kits and big wheels. The engineering which separates the RS 7 Sportback from the A7 makes them more distant cousins than siblings.
As I mentioned before the RS 7 Sportback and RS 6 share more than the same twin-turbo V8, there are also the giant brakes in form of 420mm discs at the front with 10 piston calipers and 370mm discs at the rear.
The optional carbon ceramic brakes are the largest ever to be fitted to a production vehicle at 440mm at the front and 370mm at the rear, saving 34kg in mass over the steel brakes.
Now standard for the first time is Audi's Dynamic Package, which adds dynamic steering (a variable ratio) paired with all-wheel steering, a sport differential, and a 280km/h top speed.
Coming standard is adaptive air suspension and for $2850 you can option the Dynamic Ride Control suspension, which is a hydraulically activated adaptive damper system
At the Australian launch, Audi supplied two RS 7 Sportbacks: one with the air suspension and the other with not only the Dynamic Ride Control system, but also the RS Dynamic Package Plus which adds the ceramic brakes and increases the top speed to 305km/h – this was the car I started off in.
I'm going to say right away that you don't need ceramic brakes for regular road use. Sure it means you can tell people that you have the biggest brakes in the world and they save you almost 35 kilos in weight, and, yes, they're resistant to fading, but they're expensive to replace and the steel ones are incredibly good.
I also feel the Dynamic Ride Control sports suspension isn't necessary in a car like the RS 7 Sportback. This is a Grand Tourer designed to eat up hundreds of miles at lightspeed in comfort.
So, while I found the first RS 7 Sportback with the big brakes and sports suspension sharper and firmer than the standard car, it didn't seem to fit with this vehicle's intent.
The regular RS 7 Sportback still accelerated with the same brutal force and roared at the scenery flashing past. It still handled through the tight corners superbly with excellent turn in, mind-boggling traction and grip, and excellent body control, but all in far more comfort.
This is the point – we covered hundreds of miles at the Australian launch of the RS 7 Sportback in a range of RS models, and sports suspension can go from great to gruelling on Aussie roads with their coarse-chip bitumen and potholes. The RS 7 Sportback, with its air suspension, not only made driving far more comfortable, but easier, too.
BMW 4 series7/10
Advanced driver-assist systems in the 440i coupe extend to low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, a manual speed limiter, speed-sign recognition, high-beam assist, park assist, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, hill-start assist and tyre pressure monitoring.
Other standard safety equipment includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and brake assist, among others.
That said, high-speed AEB, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert are among the notable exclusions.
Neither ANCAP nor its European sibling, Euro NCAP, have awarded the 4 Series a safety rating yet.
ANCAP tested the A7 in 2018 and gave it the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, however, this rating does not apply to the RS 7 Sportback high performance model.
That said, the RS 7 Sportback is fortified with nearly every piece of advanced safety tech there is in Audi's cupboard. There's AEB which can detect and brake for cyclists and pedestrians at speeds between 5-85km/h and vehicles up to 250km/h; there's rear cross traffic alert and intersection crossing assistance with braking; lane departure warning and corrective steering to keep you in your lane, and blind spot warning.
Not a fan of parking, the RS 7 Sportback can do it by itself, or there's a 360-degree camera that'll help you do it yourself. There's an exit warning system, which will warn you if a vehicle is approaching as you go to get out, too, and if the RS 7 Sportback detects that it will be hit from behind, it will prepare the cabin by tensions the seatbelts and closing the windows, including the sunroof.
Along with all that there are Audi's new Matrix LED headlights with laser lights, rain sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control.
For child seats you'll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.
There's no spare wheel – instead, there's a tyre repair kit.
BMW 4 series7/10
As with all BMW models, the 4 Series comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with three years of roadside assistance, both of which are two years short of the premium standard now set by Mercedes-Benz.
The 440i coupe’s service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Owners can opt for a $1650 five-year/80,000km capped-price servicing plan, which is well-priced.
The RS 7 Sportback is covered by Audi's three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty which not only falls behind in duration compared to mainstream brands but also its direct rival Mercedes-Benz which now has five-year, unlimited kilometre coverage.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km with a three-year plan costing $2380 and a five-year plan for $3910.