ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Ignoring the idiocy in BMWs naming conventions, the 4-series is a darn fine vehicle. The 4-series looks lower and wider than the outgoing 3-series coupe. The wheel package looks perfect on this, which is why I would probably have to spring for the $3,500 M Sport package. I'd also add the Dynamic Handling package, and M Sport brakes, so I'd probably like this car as is, except with a manual transmission.
As good as the I6 is, the four-cylinder in this is completely adequate, and dare I say it, a little fun. I switched into sport+ mode, which gave a little leeway on the traction control, and was able to kick the tail out on cue. It matches up surprisingly well with this eight-speed transmission, staying in between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm when accelerating fast. The paddles change gears quickly, softening the blow of not having a manual transmission.
The engine gets a little noisy past 3,500, and doesn't make a particularly pleasing sound, though the I6 was never really a songstress, either
The brakes were spongy, but I'll chalk that up to this being a press car; normally BMWs are solid in that respect. The steering is always a joy in a Bimmer, I wish they could all be like this. I didn't do a lot of switching modes, so I can only say that it felt properly weighted and direct in “Sport” mode.
The interior is standard BMW fare, but our test car was light on options. The seats weren't heated, but they offer great lateral support.
Fantastic car, a little pricey for a young enthusiast, though. I'm sure the M4 will be great.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Why anyone would buy a 4-series over a 3-series is sort of beyond me. The 3 is more useable and sensible, and according to the BMW site is almost $4K cheaper base car to base car. I guess it comes down to styling in a coupe instead of being sedan practical, and this is a damn good-looking car. The interior looks good, too: It's a fine place to spend time, very nice to look at, quality materials tightly assembled, nice buckets, and plenty of room in the front seat.
There's nothing like a BMW straight six-cylinder, but I do like this four-cylinder turbo/eight-speed combination. It feels quick, and mid- and upper rev range oomph feels like plenty. Shifts are smooth and flicking the paddles is fun. To me, the steering feels light, and for a BMW a bit disconnected, but from what others in the office say, it's a lot better with this $1,000 sport steering than without.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: I've experienced BMW's turbo four-cylinder a number of times now in different vehicles and I always come away a little disappointed with how coarse-sounding it is. At wide-open-throttle it doesn't sound smooth at all and is a far cry from Audi's own 2.0-liter force-induced four. However, I can't argue with the power that BMW is able to extract from it with 240-hp and 255 lb-ft of torque, the latter which is there between 1,250 and 4,800 rpm. That's a wide torque band there.
For a quick comparison, the Audi A5 and its four-cylinder is down 20 hp compared to the 428i with 220, but it does have a very small advantage in the torque column with 258 lb-ft. However, its peak torque band isn't as vast as the BMW's with it between 1,500 and 4,300 rpm. If you have to have an automatic, both the 428i and A5 are offered with eight-speed units.
I am a bit surprised that the BMW is lighter than the Audi, though. The 428i with the automatic is 212 pounds lighter than the A5 auto, which explains the quicker manufacturer printed 0-60 mph time. Audi says the A5 needs 6.1 seconds, which is a touch slower than BMW's claimed figure of 5.7 seconds for the 428i. Does that really matter in the real world? Not really, but I guess it gives you bragging rights if you run in a circle with people who only have turbo four-cylinder luxury coupes.
Either way, the two are closely matched, and you can't really go wrong with either one. In the BMW, you have a vehicle that's sportier in demeanor, especially when you have the car punched up in Sport+ mode for tighter steering, suspension and a stiffer punch of power from the engine. I wasn't able to really toss the car around hard on my overnight with it because I'm usually spending most of my commutes lately dodging potholes, but there is no doubt that this car as equipped would be a great deal of fun on a nice back road or even a road course.
Why so confident about this 428i's track chops, you ask? I had an automatic-equipped 328i on track at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Mich., with sport package last year and it handled well. The four-cylinder got me out of corners and down the straights well, and the gearbox with the car in Sport+ held onto gears until redline and it cracked off downshifts in short order. It was impressive stuff.
The 428i's ride quality is comfortable for a sporty coupe with the adaptive suspension softened. The cabin is comfortable with the well bolstered sport seats, and materials throughout are of nice quality.
BMW did a nice job with the 4-series' exterior. It's unmistakable for a Bimmer with a design that's not overdone. I even like the vents behind the front wheels.
If I was shopping for a 428i, I would probably get one close to how this test car is equipped. All the options minus the premium paint job ups performance of the coupe. However, mine would be with the six-speed manual instead of the automatic. And as much as I love the turbo inline six-cylinder, the $5,500 price premium to go up to the 435i is a lot to swallow.
2014 BMW 428i Coupe
Base Price: $41,425
As-Tested Price: $47,125
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4; RWD, eight-speed automatic
Output: 240 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm, 255 lb-ft @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,470 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 23/35/27 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 20.4 mpg
Options: M Sport package including 18-inch M sport performance alloy wheels, adaptive M suspension, sports seats, high-gloss black trim highlight, aluminum hexagon interior trim, M steering wheel, aerodynamic kit, shadowline exterior trim, anthracite headliner ($3,500); dynamic handling package including variable sport steering ($1,000); M Sport brakes ($650); Melbourne red metallic paint ($550)
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