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July 4, 2014

2014 BMW 428i xDrive

by Mark Savage

BMW’s new 428i coupe a really super car

How great is the new BMW 4 Series Coupe? My notes showed no, nadda, zero negatives.bmw

I list price by default, because at $50 grand, more than a few of us won’t be able to afford it, and that’s a shame. Because this may be the best all-round performing car I’ve ever driven, no matter the price. The 4 Series (formerly the 3 Series, but that’s now reserved only for sedans), is a perfect blend of power, handling, ride, comfort and looks.

Call it a home run, a royal flush, a perfect 10, or whatever you will.

What surprised me was the ride. I’ve often enjoyed driving BMWs, but rarely have I felt comfortable in them or enjoyed the ride. The 4 Series changes all that. Its well-controlled ride is a combination of a superbly designed suspension mated with BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control system that adjusts the chassis and modulates the engine’s power curve too.

So if you set the DDC on Eco, you get lowered power and a somewhat more pedestrian chassis feel. Move to Comfort and you’ve dialed in ride perfection for our pathetic highways and city streets. One road near my Northwest side church is full of potholes and pavement gaps, creases and crumbling pavement. It regularly puts my test cars’ suspensions to the ultimate test. I barely noticed the craters this week. I was amazed.

The DDC also has Sport and Sport + settings that noticeably bump the torque and firm the ride and steering feel. The Sport + setting is best used on a race course, but the Sport notch kicks the car’s performance up a few serious notches.

bmw1BMW uses its new 2.0-liter twin-turbo 4-cylinder engine in the 428i and it’s a winner, cranking out 241 horsepower with a torque rating of 258. Considering the car weighs a muscular 4,540 lbs., you might think this could use some additional oomph, but that’s not the case. Power is instantaneous and generous, easily pushing the rear-drive BMW to near triple digits in short order thanks to a silky smooth 8-speed automatic tranny, and yes, there are paddle shifters on the wheel.

Handling is agile and the steering wheel moderately heavy at all times, naturally heaviest in Sport mode. The 428i is an absolute joy to throw into corners. With the xDrive AWD system and serious R-rated rubber the grip is incredible. In fact, the car made me feel so confident I felt as if I might not even need to slow up in some corners, but I did, just a bit.

Giant disc brakes, part of a $650 option, give the coupe stout stopping ability too. Stability and traction control are standard and there’s a brake fade system to keep that from happening if you’re pushing the car hard, presumably on a racetrack.

I should mention too that the 4 Series has a start-stop system that kicks in during Comfort and Eco modes. It might on Sport too, but never did for me. This turns the engine off when the car is at rest, such as at a stoplight. Like last week’s Volvo, it saves gas and the on-off is fairly smooth, so not a bother.

Proof that it works is the relatively decent gas mileage I managed this week, 25.3 mpg in about 60% city driving. The EPA rates this model at 22 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.bmw2

While in profile the car somewhat resembles the former Pontiac GrandAm, which I don’t think is a bad thing, it looks much smoother and racier overall. I like its aggressive nose and front fenders and the more refined look of its tail. People notice you in the 4 Series.
This one was “glacier silver” with metallic blue brake calipers and alloy M Sport wheels, which upped the performance look a bit. Yet another surprise was how comfortable, functional and stylish the interior was.

I’ve often felt confined and like I was sitting in a very stiff and dark (black) interior in most BMWs. This one was stylish and comfortable. While still bathed in black leather, the aluminum hexagon trim on the dash, part of the console and by the door pulls brightened it up, plus a bright metallic blue trim line around the dash and along the doors provided a classy accent. Much of that interior pizazz came courtesy of a $3,500 M Sport package. I say it’s worth it!

As for functionality, the controls are all easy to find and use and they make sense too. While there is an iDrive system and its famous knob on the console, there now are large radio buttons and an intuitive climate control system. You can find the trip computer control button on a stalk to the left of the manual tilt/telescope steering wheel and cruise, radio and phone buttons are on the wheel’s hub. There is push-button start too.

Seats are sport models so are quite supportive, but not hard. Bolsters hug you as you drive and there’s no chance you’ll slide to the side during a hard cornering maneuver. Front seats are power with two memory settings for the driver’s seat and a power lumbar. The front seats and steering wheel also are heated, which sadly I was still happy to have during my May drive. BMW also provides a power seat belt system that holds the belt forward until you put the car in gear, then it powers back out of the way.bmw4

The heated seats and wheel are part of a $700 cold weather package and a driver assistance option for $950 added a rear-view camera and parking sensors.

While the front seats will power forward for folks to crawl in back, access is still not real easy. But there is room for a couple folks to sit in back for short rides and the trunk is monster, so will old several sets of golf clubs or a lot of luggage for a cross-country trip. Sign me up!
Overhead is a sunroof that’s standard, plus HomeLink and an emergency SOS system.

One safety features that might confuse a newcomer to BMW, you must pull the inside door release twice to open the door. This stops someone mistakenly pulling the lever and opening a door while the car’s in motion. But it takes about a week to get used to this as you exit the car.

Finally, there’s that thing called price. The base rear-drive 428i starts at $41,425 with destination fee. Move up to the top-level 435i xDrive, with its 300-horse turbocharged 6-cylinder, and you’ll be looking at a $48,925 starting price. Convertibles also are available in the 4 Series, for $7,000-$8,000 more.

The tested 428i xDrive? It starts at $42,500, plus a $925 delivery fee. Add in all the options and it hit $50,775. That’s mid-luxury range and beyond the pocketbook of many of us. Still, it’s not supercar pricing, yet the 4 Series IS a super car!

FAST Stats: 2014 BMW 428i xDrive

Hits: Great looks, great handling, great power, good grip and surprisingly good ride with adjustable chassis/power. Comfy well supported sport seats, stellar looking interior, stop-start system saves gas, heated wheel and seats.

Misses: Price.

Made in: Munich, Germany
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, TwinPower Turbo, 241 hp
Transmission: 8-speed sport automatic w/xDrive AWD
Weight: 4,540 lbs.
Wheelbase: 110.6 in.
Length: 182.6 in.
Cargo: N.A.
MPG: 22/33 (EPA)
MPG: 25.3 (tested)
Base Price: $42,500
Dealer’s Price: $40,025 (including delivery)
Major Options:
Glacier silver metallic paint, $550
M Sport package (18-in. alloy M sport wheels, sport seats, highlight trim finishes, aluminum hexagon interior trim, M steering wheel, aerodynamic kit, Shadowline exterior trim, anthracite headliner), $3,500
Cold weather package (heated steering wheel, heated front seats, retractable headlight washers), $700
Driver assistance package (rear-view camera, park distance control), $950
Dynamic handling package (adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering), $1,000
M sport brakes, $650
Delivery: $925
Test vehicle: $50,775
Sources: BMW, http://www.kbb.com
Photos: BMW

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