Day one: This is what used to be known as the 3-series coupe. BMW has decided that its saloons keep the odd-numbers and coupes now get even-numbers, hence this is the 4-series. As a result, the forthcoming really fast one is the M4 and therefore will be extremely long and boring and will force you to pay £6.40 to put things into the boot (but not to take them out again). Although the 435i is a medium sized coupe with a large engine and you might expect it to feature an automatical gearbox, this particular press demonstrator has a manual ‘box. This is no great hardship. BMW make nice gearchanges. This one is no different. The rest of the car feels very BMWish too. Of course it does. It’s a BMW. It’s stupid even to mention such a thing. It would be more surprising if it felt like a Citroen or a bus or the Bishop of Leeds.
Day two: What a nice looking car this is. It has a sleekness no 3-series coupe quite achieved. The rear three-quarter is especially good, not least because it has that subtle rear wheel arch flare current BMWs have developed. I imagine they had a meeting about how to remind people their cars are rear wheel drive or something. It’s good. The slash vent in the front wing is a new affectation, also spreading across the range. It’s okay but I’m not sure the car needs it. BMW is usually good at avoiding such styling gimmicks. They were once so anti-trend it took them years to ditch orange front indicators.
Day three: I need to go somewhere that demands using the sat-nav. This 4-series has the latest version of BMW’s iDrive controller thing. The original iDrive was described by Professor Stephen Hawking as ‘confusing’. Probably. They’ve made it much better. This one has an Etch-a-Sketch function where you input place names by drawing out individual letters on the touch-sensitive controller top and the system recognises them. It works. I tried to befuddle it by drawing a cock and balls but it just thought I wanted a capital A.
Day four: Driving along today when my wife announces from the passenger seat that she likes the 4-series. ‘It feels fast,’ she says. Strangely, I disagree. It’s a brisk car, but not as quick as you might think. From memory, the 328i I drove a while ago felt faster. Maybe because that car has a fast spinning four cylinder turbo and this one uses a gently swelling six. Ahem. Anyway, if you were expecting that slightly hot-roddish feeling you got from an old 325i or 330i you’ll be disappointed. It’s genteel and calm rather than a full-on mentalist. Although you can chuck it around corners if you so wish. It’s pretty good at that. The ride is nice too.
Day five: In common with other modern BMWs, the 435’s stereo carries on playing even after you turn off the ignition and open the door. It only stops when you shut the car and lock it. Or, if you remember, you can jab the start/stop button a second time. I find this profoundly annoying, mostly because I don’t want my neighbours to know I was just listening to ABBA.
Day six: BMW has always fitted very nice instruments. The 435i has very nice instruments. A neat detail: The dial on the right tells you oil rather than water temperature. I like this. It’s a subtle way in which BMW can say, yea that’s right, we’re serious about driving.
Goodbye: Bye-bye 4-series. What a handsome, refined and smoothly pleasant thing you were. It’s been like a week riding round in Bryan Ferry. The only thing I wouldn’t have on my 435i is a manual gearbox. It doesn’t fit with the relaxed, smooth atmos of the rest of the car. This isn’t really a sporty coupe. It has a little arm that passes you the seatbelt when you get in and lashings of luxurious torque. It’s a cruiser. And it’s very good at it.
The car talked about here is a BMW 435i M Sport. It has a 3-litre turbocharged straight six engine making 302bhp. BMW says it can go from 0-62 in 5.4 second and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. In standard spec it costs £41,655.