Future Car: 2014 BMW 4-Series
BMW divides and expands its top-selling car line in a bid to win more premium-compact buyers. The new 4-Series adds sporty 2-door styling to the latest 3-Series sedan design, but includes a slick “baby” Gran Coupe 4-door. And hot M versions are planned for all.
What It Is
The 2014 BMW 4-Series is the renamed, redesigned replacement for today’s “E90” 3-Series 2-door coupe and hardtop-convertible. Though it follows the same formula of being a sportier take on the 3-Series sedan–the latest “F30” version, new to the U.S. for 2012–the 4-Series will also include a sleek 4-door Gran Coupe, BMW’s first such premium-compact car. High-performance M4 models are expected 12-18 months after mainstream offerings start sale.
Though we can’t be precise about U.S. timing, European reports point to 4-Series coupes reaching dealers here toward the end of calendar ’13 as 2014 entries. Convertibles would follow about 6 months later, likely as early 2015s. A new F30-based M3 sedan should arrive stateside in late ’13 or early ’14; equivalent M4s are due by early 2015. A long-rumored 3-Series GT 4-door hatchback is also on BMW’s 2013 agenda, though that one may not come to America, owing to tepid demand for the larger 5-Series GT–and a last-minute decision to continue a U.S.-market 3-Series wagon for 2013 in new F30 form.
The 2014 BMW 4-Series continues a product strategy in which the world’s top-selling premium auto brand will designate sportier body styles with even numbers to set them clearly apart from the odd-numbered sedans and wagons. This scheme is already used for the 6-Series/5-Series siblings as well as the X5 and X6 SUVs. It also answers similar naming methods at rival brands like Audi, whose A4-based A5 coupe and convertible are 4-Series analogs. But more than just adding “new” model lines, “the decision to give [its sportier cars] their own unique positioning will allow BMW [to charge more for them],” observes Britain’s Autocar magazine. Though we don’t know if an “8-Series” is being planned to partner to the large 7-Series sedans, we do know that the 2-Series badge will appear on the redesigned versions of the small 1-Series coupe and convertible that should land in the U.S. toward the end of calendar 2013.
BMW 4-Series Overview
Like the cars they replace, the 2014 BMW 4-Series models borrow much from their parent sedan. That means a slightly larger overall package with more interior space, wider axles for more-stable handling, and added standard features such as an engine stop/start system and BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control that allows adjusting powertrain and suspension parameters. The 4-Series should also offer most all the same options as the new-gen 3-Series, including a choice of Luxury Line, Modern Line, and Sport Line trim, plus hands-free parallel-parking assist and safety features such as blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, and a surround-view camera system.
The 2-door coupe and convertible should again be a bit shorter and lower than the new 3-Series sedan and span a slightly trimmer wheelbase, but will naturally share its new lower-body styling and modernized interior decor. As ever, the dimensional differences give the 2-doors more-rakish proportions, abetted by frameless side glass and specific roof lines. The convertible continues with a folding hard-top. BMW is said to have considered reverting to a traditional cloth roof, but is keeping the metal lid at the urging of U.S. dealers. The upcoming 4-Series Gran Coupe is expected to resemble the elegant, like-named 4-door that joins the 6-Series line for 2013. It, too, should seat 4 only despite being built on a 4.3-inch longer wheelbase, a span developed for the China-market L-model 3-Series sedans announced at the April 2012 Beijing Auto Show.
We expect the U.S.-market 4-Series will also offer the same powerteams as 2012-model 3-Series sedans. That means a 428i duo with BMW’s new 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 435i versions with a 300-horsepower single-turbo inline 6-cylinder. As with F30 sedans, transmissions will comprise standard 6-speed manual and optional 8-speed automatic. BMW’s all-wheel xDrive will eventually return as an option to rear drive. See the next section for details on the M performance models.
Other likely 4-Series particulars include specific tuning for the F30 sedan’s front-strut/multilink-rear suspension; available adaptive suspension with driver-adjustable shock absorbers; the expected 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with integrated stability system and traction control; and optional variable steering that “speeds up” when the wheel is turned from center for more-responsive cornering behavior. Run-flat tires should be standard for 2-doors in 17- and 18-inch sizes, with 19s available.
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