BMW 4 series VS Audi S7
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
- Supermodel good looks.
- Smooth engine/transmission combo.
- Liftback practicality.
- Limited rear-seat headroom.
- Expensive options.
- Rear-wheel steering.
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 want something large, fast and comfortable, no one does it better than the Germans, and the latest entrant to the market is Audi’s all-new S7 Sportback.
Using the uber-stylish second-generation A7 as a basis, the new S7 Sportback scores cutting-edge technology and premium appointments befitting a large luxury sedan, but it’s often what’s under the bonnet that will draw buyers in.
This new S7 replaces the old version’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 for a 2.9-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 but, don’t fear, as having fewer cylinders has not dulled its performance or appeal.
As a whole though, does the new Audi S7 Sportback deliver a winning blow?
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
Audi’s S7 Sportback wraps style, comfort and sportiness in an appealing package that is sure to please onlookers and occupants alike.
The great engine/transmission aside, the S7 Sportback also has cutting-edge technology at a more affordable pricetag, though less-than-comfortable rear-seat space lets it down a little.
We wish the car we sampled didn’t have the all-wheel steering, as we much preferred the more neutral feel of the S6 sedan we also drove but, overall, the S7 Sportback puts forward a strong case for its existence.
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.
Audi’s second-generation A7 has always been a bit of a looker, but Audi has taken it up another notch in the S7 Sportback.
Differentiating the S7 Sportback is a more aggressive bodykit, complete with larger air intakes up front, blacked out exterior trim, quad-exhaust tips (denoting that it’s an Audi Sport model) and large 21-inch wheels
The S7 doesn’t go too overboard with the aggressive appointments however (that’s what the top-spec RS7 Sportback, due here later this year, is for), but balances its sportiness with a stately aesthetic.
We think the S7 Sportback is stunning, especially the white exterior colour that gives it an almost Stormtrooper-like look, but even our test car, finished in Daytona Grey, while much more subtle, is still easy on the eyes.
We especially like the strong shoulder line, chiselled doors and sloping roofline of the Sportback body style that combine in profile to make the S7 look like a sprinter on the starting blocks ready to pounce.
Inside, the S7 Sportback scores all of Audi’s latest interior technology, including a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrumentation and dual-screen centre console layout.
The triple screen set-up definitely helps the S7 Sportback feel very cutting-edge from the driver’s seat, especially when you start to play around with the multimedia system that sports haptic feedback when you press the screen.
Everything is laid out in a clear, concise and easy-to-use manner, while the surfaces of the dashboard are covered in soft-touch, premium materials.
If we’re being honest, we'd probably skip the red-leather interior of our test car in favour of something a little more subdued, but to each their own.
We like the integrated air-vents that blend well into the dash, while the sea of black is broken up with some aluminium detailing and different finishes.
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.
Measuring 4969mm long, 1908mm wide, 1417mm tall and with a 2928mm wheeblase, the S7 Sportback falls well and truly into the large car class.
Up front, the driver and passenger have plenty of room, while the seats and steering wheel are almost infinitely adjustable to find the perfect position.
As you can imagine though, the sloping roofline does eat into the rear-seat headroom a little.
The outboard seats offer plenty of leg- and shoulder-room, but the slanted roof prevents my six-foot-tall frame from sitting up straight comfortably.
Don’t get me wrong, the space is perfectly useable for children or even some smaller adults, but don’t expect to get any basketball players in those seats.
As for the middle seat, only children will find it comfortable due to the protruding transmission tunnel and higher-set seat.
The S7 Sportback’s boot offers at least 535 litres of space and expands to 1380L with the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats stowed.
Being a liftback (or Sportback in Audi parlance) means the boot is much more practical than a standard sedan, and with such a large aperture, bigger items such as suitcases or golf clubs won’t be annoying to load and unload.
Bag hooks, storage tie-down points and carbo netting also feature to ensure your goods don’t roll around when the S7 Sportback is in motion.
Storage around the cabin though, could be a little better as the wireless smartphone charger takes up a fair chunk of room in the shallow central storage bin under the front armrest.
The usual storage tray found ahead of the shifter is also absent, due to the dual-screen centre console layout, but two generous cupholders and sizeable door pockets are still available up front.
Second-row passengers get access to a fold-down armrest with shallow storage tray and cupholders, as well as door pockets that can accommodate large bottles.
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.
Priced at $159,900 before on-road costs, the new S7 Sportback is about $20,000 cheaper than before.
While the $20,000 saving is nice, we’d argue that maybe the $180,000 pricetag for an S7 was a bit high to begin with.
Aside from the new engine (more on that below), the S7 Sportback comes standard with a laundry list of equipment, including keyless entry, push-button start, 21-inch wheels (available in three designs), adaptive air suspension, privacy glass for the rear, electric tailgate with gesture control, soft-close doors, panoramic sunroof and Matrix LED headlights.
As expected of an Audi, the interior is kitted out with leather and soft-touch materials throughout, but it's equipment such as the illuminated seat belt buckles and loose wheel-nut detection that really elevate it above its peers.
The multimedia system is displayed on a 10.1-inch touchscreen and features satellite navigation with real-time traffic alerts, wireless Apple CarPlay support, Android Auto connectivity, Wi-Fi hot-spotting, wireless smartphone charging and digital radio, while the four-zone climate controls are nestled in the lower 8.6-inch screen.
While we prefer physical buttons to a purely touchscreen set-up, Audi’s implementation is fantastic thanks to the haptic feedback from the screens, which mimic a button press.
We also like that there is a dedicated volume-control knob, meaning you aren’t fumbling around with the touchscreen while driving to turn down the music.
The S7 Sportback also features Audi’s signature 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit panel, which is still the best application of a digital instrumentation.
We’ve gone into detail about why we love it so much in the past, but a quick recap is that it's super-easy to use, can be customised to show whatever you want to see, and is clear in its layout.
Despite the long list of equipment, there are still a few items left on the options list.
Some, such as ceramic brakes and a Dynamic Package, are aimed to improve performance around the bends, so it’s nice that the extras aimed at a particular type of customer are not bundled into the asking price for everyone.
Likewise, there are also comfort- and style-orientated choices such as carbon interior, DVD player (in 2020?), heated rear seats and a premium sound system, but with the latter costing $11,700, the S7 Sportback’s price can quickly balloon.
Eight exterior colours are also available, each a no-cost choice.
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.
Powering the new S7 Sportback is a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6, punching out 331kW/600Nm, which is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends drive to the road via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The result is a zero-to-100km/h acceleration time of 4.6 seconds.
Keen-eyed Audi fans might note that those are the exact same engine and outputs as the RS5 Sportback, RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant, and they’d be right, however, Audi has added the 48-volt mild-hybrid and an electric powered compressor (EPC) to reduce turbo lag in the S7 Sportback.
The mild-hybrid technology no doubt helps shift the S7 Sportback’s 2040kg weight with peak power now available earlier on in the rev range (from 5700rpm), while maximum torque is available from 1900rpm.
Compared to the older car, the new S7 Sportback matches its predecessor in power, but ups torque by 50Nm despite losing the old car’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine.
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.
Official fuel economy figures for the S7 Sportback are 8.5 litres per 100km, but in our brief time with the car we managed 13.6L/100km, mainly due to the inner-city and country B-road driving.
The 48-volt mild-hybrid system works to reduce fuel usage, by as much as 0.4L/100km according to Audi, and allows the car to coast with the engine off between speeds of 55km/h and 160km/h for up to 40 seconds.
The start/stop system also aids in reducing fuel usage.
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.
Audi’s formula for a go-fast vehicle has always been simple – quattro all-wheel-drive for grip, potent engine for speed – and the new S7 Sportback remains true to that formula.
We are big fans of the 2.9-lite twin-turbo V6 engine, which is matched wonderfully with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
The S7 Sportback always seems to have plenty to give no matter where you are in the rev range, and the transmission isn’t bogged down with slow gear changes up or down.
Though it’s hard to tell how much the EPC helps in getting the S7 up to speed, if you have you window down and accelerate hard from a standstill, you can hear the electronics whirring away.
The standard air suspension also does a wonderful job at absorbing road imperfections in comfort, while it can be switched over to dynamic for a more sporting characteristic.
Grip is plentiful thanks to 255/35 tyres and the quattro all-wheel-drive system but, as with other Audis, the S7 Sportback tends towards understeer when pushed hard around a corner.
Being such a long and wide model, you definitely feel the S7 Sportback’s size on the road, especially when navigating through quick direction changes, but this is where the $7700 Dynamic Package comes into play.
It adds a sports differential, variable ratio steering and all-wheel steering, all aimed at sharpening the S7 up in the bends.
Our test car was fitted with the option pack, but it left us a little cold.
The all-wheel steering especially, made the S7 Sportback’s handling feel too artificial for our tastes, and we were never able to gauge where the rear end wanted to go in a corner.
If we were buying one, we’d leave the Dynamic Package option box unticked.
Bringing the S7 Sportback to a stop are big 400/350mm brake rotors front/rear, with six-piston callipers in the front.
Ceramic brakes with grey-painted callipers can be optioned for $18,000, but the standard stoppers do a fine job scrubbing speed in the S7 Sportback.
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.
Audi’s S7 Sportback was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by ANCAP based on crash-testing done by Euro NCAP in 2018.
The S7 scored 93 and 85 per cent in the adult- and child-occupant protection tests, while the vulnerable road user and safety assist categories yielded an 81 and 78 per cent score respectively.
Standard safety equipment includes tyre pressure monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, surround-view monitor, front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and a head-up display.
The AEB system is operational from 10-85km/h according to ANCAP’s documentation, and comes with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
Noticeably absent from the safety list is traffic-sign recognition, though the satellite navigation will give the speed-limit readout based on GPS data.
The S7 Sportback is also fitted with an exit warning system to warn passengers of any incoming cyclists or cars to prevent opening a door into strife.
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.
Like all new Audi models, the S7 Sportback comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with three years roadside assist.
Scheduled service intervals are every 15,000km/12 months, whichever comes first.
A three- or five-year service plan is available for the S7 Sportback, priced at $2350 and $4110 respectively.