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2016 BMW 4 Series: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 BMW 4 Series is really an exercise in rebranding. We all know that it's a 3 Series with two fewer doors, but BMW wants to make a distinction between its all-conquering compact sport sedan and these coupe and convertible variants. That's OK -- it doesn't really matter what they're called because they're still fabulous machines.

With lower suspensions and wider tracks, the 4 Series cars actually handle better than the already-adept 3 Series Sedan. Acceleration is strong, regardless of engine choice. The 428i's turbocharged 4-cylinder has plenty of punch, while the 435i's turbocharged inline-6 is even quicker. Through it all, the trademark refined ride remains intact, making any 4 Series a superb ride in all conditions.

What's New for 2016?

A sportier look is now standard because the formerly optional Sport Line package (including 18-inch alloy wheels) has become part of the deal. A Track Handling package joins the options list. And the 435i adds keyless entry/ignition, plus a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, to its standard features.

What We Like

Strong yet fuel-efficient engines; high-quality interior; advanced cabin technology; great driving dynamics; hardtop convertible security

What We Don't

Options are pricey; engine stop/start feature saves a little fuel, but it's hardly subtle

How Much?

$42,845-$57,945

Fuel Economy

As with most BMW cars, the 4 Series starts out with rear-wheel drive. The company's all-wheel-drive system (called xDrive) is optional. An 8-speed automatic transmission comes as standard, but a 6-speed manual can be specified on the rear-wheel-drive 428i Coupe (the 428i Convertible versions and the 428i xDrive Coupe are automatic only).

The 428i features a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy in the rear-drive coupe with the automatic transmission is an impressive 23 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined. The manual transmission adjusts things to 22 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined, which are the same figures as the all-wheel-drive coupe.

The 428i Convertible returns 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive or 21 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

The 435i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder developing 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. The 8-speed automatic is standard here also, but the manual is available on both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive coupes (the 435i Convertible is automatic only).

Fuel economy for the 435i Coupe is 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined (automatic) or 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (manual). The all-wheel-drive 435i xDrive Coupe achieves 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (automatic) and 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined (manual).

The 435i Convertible yields 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined (rear-wheel drive) or 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (all-wheel drive).

Standard Features & Options

The base 428i ($42,845) comes standard with 18-in wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, fog lights, a sunroof (coupe only), auto stop/start (a fuel-saving feature that can be disabled), auto-dimming mirrors, Driving Dynamics Control (offering three settings for throttle sensitivity and steering effort), 10-way power adjustable sport front seats with driver memory functions, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, iPod/USB connectivity and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-in screen.

The main appeal of the 435i ($49,145) is the powerful inline 6-cylinder engine, but it also has keyless entry/ignition, hands-free trunk opening and an upgrade to the Harman Kardon audio system.

The 428i Convertible ($50,995) and 435i Convertible ($57,945) feature a power-retractable hardtop and optional neck-warming air vents.

A Luxury package brings nonsport seats as a no-cost option. The M Sport package adds special exterior trim, a body kit, a sport suspension, an M steering wheel and M badging inside and out. A new Track Handling package has an adaptive M-tuned suspension, variable-ratio sport steering and special-design 18-in alloy wheels.

In typical BMW fashion, the options list is lengthy and tends to get expensive. The Premium package adds power front lumbar support, while the Cold Weather package brings a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. Additional options include an adaptive sport suspension, M Sport brakes, leather upholstery, dynamic cruise control, a self-parking system (parallel and perpendicular spaces), side- and top-view parking cameras and Harman Kardon audio.

A Technology package contributes a crisper 8.8-in infotainment screen, a navigation system, an upgraded iDrive controller with a touchpad and a head-up display. All models are compatible with BMW Apps, which uses an owner's smartphone to bring social media into the car.

BMW claims a generous 15.7 cu ft. of trunk space in the coupe, which is remarkable given the car's relatively modest dimensions. The convertible impresses at 13 cu ft. with the top up, but when it's dropped, cargo space is reduced to 7.8 cu ft.; all that folded metal has to go somewhere.

Safety

The 2016 BMW 4 Series comes with stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with collision-mitigation features and a full complement of airbags (including front, front-knee and side). The Driver Assistance Plus package adds a forward-collision system, a blind spot monitoring system and side- and top-view cameras. BMW Assist (which adds automatic crash notification and roadside assistance) is also offered.

Behind the Wheel

There are no LCD virtual gauges here; there's just a simple round tachometer with a speedometer to match, a layout BMW has employed for years, and yet there's no escaping modern technology, and the 4 Series has plenty of it, starting with the visually arresting iDrive system and its standard 6.5-in display. The optional 8.8-in screen is slicker still, but the overriding impression is that this is a driver's car, a 3 Series tradition that the 4 Series is eager to continue.

No matter the trim, there are high-quality materials and classy accents. The convertible version asks for few compromises, and its elaborate folding roof goes up or down in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour. The convertible-only 3-stage neck warmers give the 4 Series a direct equivalent to Mercedes-Benz's AIRSCARF system.

This 4 Series feels notably larger and heftier than previous models of the 3 Series. This is no longer a compact car; now, it's more of a grand tourer, and a convincing one at that. High-speed stability and smoothness are impeccable, yet cornering limits are higher than ever.

The sprightly 4-cylinder is certainly stronger than the Audi A5's engine, but the 435i's muscular inline-6 is also tempting. Either way, it's a bonus that BMW offers all-wheel drive with both engines and body styles.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Audi A5 -- The A5's slinky styling remains a big draw. If the engine's not perky enough, there's always the S5, which was conceived as a 435i (formerly 335i) competitor. The convertible's not a hardtop, though.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro -- The Camaro doesn't have the cachet of a BMW and the convertible uses a fabric roof, but this new generation comes tantalizingly close to European-grade handling and has some excellent engines. It's also a less expensive option.

2017 Mercedes Benz C-Class Coupe -- There's a new generation of the C-Class Coupe, as well as a Cabriolet convertible model, coming for the 2017 model year.

Used Porsche 911 -- Believe it or not, if you add some options to a 4 Series, the price starts getting into previous-generation Porsche 911 territory. Known as the 997 from 2005 to 2012, this version of the 911 is still absolutely awesome.

Autotrader's Advice

We recommend that you test drive both engines. The 428i isn't that far off the 435i in performance terms, so it might be a better idea to spend that extra money on other equipment such as the self-parking feature and/or all-wheel drive.

Find a BMW 4 Series for sale

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Used 2016 BMW 4 Series Convertible
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Used 2016 BMW 4 Series Convertible
Used 2016 BMW 4 Series
$35,149
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 BMW 4 Series: New Car Review - Autotrader