BMW is keen to distance the 4-series from the 3-series coupé, despite the obvious similarities. The styling is, to these eyes, rather handsome. The wide rear wheelarches are a particular high point, and BMW says it’s the first time one of its mid-size coupés has made such a focal point of its hips.
The interior also bears more than a passing resemblance to the Three. Again, some effort has been made to set it apart, with a dashboard colour palette not available to saloon buyers, door cards featuring a stretched design, and a character line that runs from the dash into the rear compartment. The rear seats are sculpted to appear as two separate seats and have integrated headrests, like those fitted to the 6-series.
The front seats are arranged slightly lower than in the 3-series, to offer a more sporting driving position. Space in the front is ample, and an increase of 13mm of rear legroom gives a decent amount of space, even if headroom is slightly lacking.
What's it like?
Quite a lot like a 3-series, actually. It is imbued with the same level of balance, poise and delicacy that made the current 3 one of a handful of cars to score Autocar’s full five-star rating.
The 3.0-litre twin scroll turbocharged straight six offers thumping performance. With the automatic gearbox tested here, it is just 0.3sec slower to 62mph than an E92 M3 coupé with a manual gearbox. And turbo lag? Forget it. Power peaks at just 1200rpm and plateaus until 5000rpm. Its straight-line urge is strong and relentless.
Less impressive is the engine note. There’s rather too much of it at tickover – its actually rather like a diesel – and not quite enough when winding on the power. Still, the engine offers a smooth power delivery and impressive flexibility, which makes it a devastating point-and-squirt overtaking machine.
Its frenetic pace is matched only by the speed of the gearshifts from the eight-speed auto. It is a masterclass in automatic transmissions, this. It’s virtually impossible to wrong-foot it, and the quality of shifts in Sport mode is vastly improved.
Our test car was fitted with adaptive suspension and steering systems, which are fitted as standard to M Sport models, but were optional on the Sport trim tested. In either mode, the steering is consistent and precise, although we would prefer a little more weight when pressing on. At lower speeds, the lightness makes for an effortless steer.
Whether an increase in torsional rigidity actually translates into improved handling on the road is hard to say – a back-to-back test will be necessary for that – but the 435i certainly turns and grips as well as the best mid-sized coupés. There’s very little understeer, and the ESP kills oversteer almost imperceptibly.
The Sport+ setting provides an electronic limited-slip diff to allow a little more movement from the rear end.
Should I buy one?
Yes. The BMW 435i is an exceptionally able machine, offering huge performance coupled to thoroughly reasonable running costs. And a £40,795 price tag is all the more impressive given its performance credentials are only slightly short of the £54,980 E92 M3.
Perhaps BMW’s biggest failing isn’t so much with the 435i specifically, as it is an excellent car, but with the fragmentation of the 3-series range. It doesn’t feel different enough to warrant that all-new name.