BMW 4 series VS BMW M2
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
- Engine is a hard-charging beast
- Tons of fun on a twisting road
- Even more fun on a racetrack
- Expensive compared to traditional German rivals
- Backseat underwhelming
- Interior tech feels outdated
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 the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, the BMW M2 and M2 Pure were like a pair of atomic-powered sulphur flares when they exploded onto the Australian performance scene in 2016.
Because just two short years after they launched, the BMW’s entry-level M cars are already no more, their engines falling victim to ever-tightening Euro regulations.
But worry not, M fans, because a replacement is on its way. Meet the M2 Competition; the fastest, hardest, most track-focused M2 to date, compliments of its new engine, bigger brakes and more slippery aerodynamics.
|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.
It's early days, and we'll wait until we drive it on Australian roads before we make a final verdict, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that when the M2 Competition arrives in October, BMW’s most-fun M car might just be its cheapest. And how often do you get to say that?
Is the M2 Competition the pick of BMW's M car bunch? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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.
If you believe BMW's design language works best on its smaller models, and plenty do, then you'll find lots to love in the looks of the M2 Competition.
First, the new stuff; the Competition adopts the aero-improved wing mirrors of the rest of the M range, as well as a new-look gloss-black kidney grille. There are two new exterior colours, as well ('Sunset Orange' and 'Hockenheim Silver'), while the quad-tipped exhaust is finished in black chrome.
Elsewhere, though, the M2 Competition remains a muscular and handsome looking thing; all domed bonnet, powerful haunches and sharp wedges carved into its flanks.
Inside, the interior layout is clean, premium and functional (though arguably a little dull), but the carbon-fibre-effect dash elements, Alcanatara door panels and bright-red start button do lend an air of sportiness.
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.
Practicality is good, not great. Up front, there's plenty of room for driver and passenger, all the controls are easy to reach and the dial-controlled multimedia system is simple and intuitive to use.
There are two cupholders for front-seat riders, bottle storage in each of the front doors, a central storage bin for your bits and pieces and a second covered space in front of the gearshift that's home to the usual array of USB and power connections.
Life in the backseat, though, isn't quite so joyous. For one, you need to climb over the front seats to get there (no rear doors and all that), and while there was plenty of legroom behind my own (176cm) driving position, my head was touching the roof lining.
There are no cupholders or door pockets (or doors, for that matter) back there, either, but there are twin air vents and two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat. The boot is home to 390 litres of storage space.
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.
While we’ll happily admit it feels more than a little weird to describe a car that will surely land north of $100,000 as anything even resembling a bargain, with BMW’s incoming M2 Competition we simply have no other choice.
Bargains are all about context, of course. And while it’s hardly a trip to the supermarket for some homebrand (and possibly horse-filled) meatballs, the M2 Competition punches well above its weighty price tag in the performance stakes.
For one, the Competition is more powerful than the M2 is replaces. It stops better, accelerates faster and tackles corners more sweetly, too. Plus, it adds genuine performance kit (an under-bonnet brace, bigger brakes, better aero) and a new pair of buttons on the steering wheel to help you jump to the car's most hardcore settings more quickly.
The cost for all this extra punch? Well... we don't know. But the smart money is on the new car landing at around $105,000 when it arrives in October - only about $5k more than the M2 it replaces. Better still, BMW is working on a stripped-back Pure model that should bring the starting price down to under $100k.
Outside, you can expect lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights and keyless entry (with push-button start). Inside, you'll find sports seats in 'Dakota' leather, a new leather-wrapped M steering wheel and climate-control air-conditioning.
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.
The engine here is an absolute corker; a detuned version of the twin-turbocharged six-cylinder unit that powers the bigger M3.
In M2 Competition guise, the 3.0-litre unit produces 302kW/550Nm (up significantly from 272kW/465Nm in the current car), and pairs as standard with a seven-speed M-tuned dual-clutch automatic. Purists can opt for a sweet six-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option, too.
In automatic guise, that means a screaming sprint from 0-100km/h of 4.2 seconds (4.4secs with the manual) and a soaring top speed of up to 280km/h. That is plenty fast.
Other performance kit includes bigger six-piston front, four piston rear brakes, and a new carbon-fibre-composite brace under the bonnet (that helps with stiffness and is designed to make the front end bite into a corner with more precision) and an active M differential.
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.
BMW claims a 9.0-9.2L/100km combined fuel figure range (9.8–10.0 manual), with emissions pegged at between 206 to 227g/km depending on the gearbox. The M2 Competition's fuel tank will take 52 litres.
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.
The M2 Competition might be the smallest and least powerful model in the full-blown M car range, but it packs a heavyweight punch under its bulging bonnet.
You wouldn't consider the outgoing car a slouch, but this version ups the ante in every way that matters. BMW reckons it takes about 4.2secs to clip 100km/h, but I'll be damned if it doesn’t feel (and sound) faster than that.
But for ours, the M2 Competition is less about straight-line pace and more about the way it tackles a winding road. We back-to-backed the smallest M car with a fire-breathing M5, and while the former lacks the pure grunt of its big brother, it also feels lighter, more nimble and far more suited to a tight and twisting back road.
In short, the M5 might well pull away on the straights, but the M2 Competition will be glued to its rump in the tighter stuff.
Part of that is down to a new Y-shaped carbon-fibre-composite brace that lives under the bonnet, stiffening front end and - BMW tells us - allowing the M2 to turn into corners with more precision than its predecessor. It's a trick learned from others in the M range, and the Competition's front tyres bite into corners with seriously impressive precision.
But by far the most fun part of this pint-sized performance coupe is the ability to turn the traction control to part-slip mode (not something we would recommend on a public road), which allows you to stamp on the accelerator on the exit of a corner, sending the rear end slipping and sliding, all safe in the knowledge that the traction system will (we hope) pull you back into line should things get really out of hand.
It's a seriously fun, seriously smile-inducing ride on the right road, but perhaps most surprisingly, it won't sap your will to live on the daily commute. The non-adaptive suspension can't be made any more or less comfortable, but it does a properly impressive job of balancing its duties on both sides of the wild/mild divide. There are more comfortable cars, sure, but the M2 Competition won't rattle your fillings loose on the ride to work.
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.
Final specification is still being decided for Australia, but BMW’s (just about) full suite of safety systems will be available, either as standard or as an option, including AEB wth pedestrian detection and lane departure warning.
While the M2 is yet to be crash tested, the 2 Series received a four-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2014.
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.
You can prepay your maintenance costs for five years at the time of purchase, but there's no true capped-price servicing program in place.