Let’s chase the elephant out of the room, shall we? No element of any other car has prompted more heated debates and internet forum chatter than that grille. The large pair of conjoined octagons that front BMW’s all-new 4 Series coupe has polarised opinion among car enthusiasts – and even non-enthusiasts – to an unprecedented degree.
We grilled (apologies for the awful pun) BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk at the Los Angeles motor show a couple of years ago, and he explained that the Bavarian brand was aiming to provide greater visual differentiation between its various model ranges. As a result, the latest 7 Series and X7 are fronted by enormous mouths to signify their flagship status within the line-up.
And now we have the latest 4 Series, which has sparked even greater controversy than its siblings with its gaping frontal aperture. I won’t try and persuade you one way or another regarding the new 4 Series’s aesthetic merit, but admittedly the face is less contentious (at least for me) than when I first laid eyes on it in concept form at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show.
Rapid and well-equipped
You won’t as yet spot too many examples of the G22 4 Series on UAE roads as it’s a recent addition to the local BMW range. The newcomer shares most of its hardware with the accomplished G20 3 Series, but its svelte coupe profile – plus, of course, that XXL grille – distinguishes it as a separate entity.
Our test car is a fully kitted-out 430i M Sport Pro, which will dent your bank account to the tune of Dh362,500. That's a hefty outlay, but it gets you a decently rapid and well-equipped coupe with a genuinely sporting flavour. Back in the day, its 330Ci ancestor was powered by a silken-smooth in-line six-pot motor, but ever-tighter emission standards mean the 430i's snout now houses a turbocharged four-cylinder unit that pushes out 258 horsepower and 400Nm.
To be fair, this engine sounds pleasing enough – although lacking the intoxicating rasp of the old six-cylinder – and a 0-100 kilometres per hour dash in 5.8 seconds is hardly shabby. Keep the foot planted and the 430i will run all the way up to an electronically governed 250kph. There’s plenty of torque where you need it (the peak figure of 400Nm is on tap from just 1,550rpm), so you can easily sprint past slow-moving traffic, as and when needed.
Girth and grip
The 430i M-Sport's straight-line pace is matched by a nicely balanced chassis that serves up relatively flat cornering characteristics, aided by a centre of gravity that's 21 millimetres lower than the 3 Series sedan, plus a rear track that's 23mm wider. In addition, bespoke bracing elements stiffen the body shell, while the M Sport also gets firmer dampers and anti-roll bars, making it even tauter.
Fling it at a corner and you’ll find there’s ample grip available from the 255mm-wide Bridgestone rubber, which is wrapped around a tasty set of 19-inch gloss-black rims.
Effortlessly straddling the middle ground between refined cruiser and back road blaster, the 430i M Sport will hit the sweet spot for many potential buyers in the premium coupe segment.
We spent five days in it – comprising a mix of inner-city trundling and twisty-road hustling – and sliding into the red-leather-lined cockpit was always an experience to savour.
As is the norm with BMWs, the driving position is near-perfect, and there’s a real sense of quality in the switchgear and all the trim elements, including the metallic highlight strips on the dashboard and centre console.
The rear seats can comfortably accommodate a pair of adult-sized individuals, while its 440-litre boot is spacious enough to stash a couple of large suitcases.
There’s plenty to like about the new 4 Series, regardless of where you stand on the visual appeal of its oversize grille. It’s a well-balanced sporting coupe that can meet the dual demands of being hard charger or cosseting everyday schlep-mobile, depending on the mood and occasion. The only sticking point is that lofty price tag.