More than just a grille

LOOK BEYOND THE 4 SERIES’ TOOTHY SMILE, AND THERE’S PLENTY TO GET EXCITED ABOUT

CAMERON KIRBY

YES, IT IS real. No, we can’t stop staring either. Welcome, dear readers, to our first official look at the polarising G22 4 Series which, quite obviously, has a gargantuan grille. But let’s put a pin in that for now because there are more important things at play here than how this car looks.

BMW is pitching this second-gen 4er as its mid-sizer for drivers and has given it new engine tech, a stiffer chassis, and subtle dimension changes. Think of it as the 3 Series’ hunkered down, sportier sibling and you’re most of the way there. And if you squint, and imagine a tougher stance and bodywork, you’re looking at the next M4.

Compared to the 3 Series, this coupe is 23mm wider and 57mm lower, which helps drop the centre of gravity. Tracks have grown front and rear, too, and the front axle has more negative camber. Body rigidity is up courtesy of additional chassis bracing.

Engines mimic the 3 Series, with turbocharged four- and six-cylinder units, but the big change is the addition of a mild-hybrid system for the M440i xDrive.

This will be the quickest non-M 4 Series, with 275kW/500Nm sent to all four-wheels thanks to its turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. A 48-volt starter motor is fitted which can act like a small electrical drive unit and adds an extra 8kW to the 440i’s total output.

If rear-drive purity is more your thing, you’ll need to forego sixcylinder grunt for a turbo four-pot. All 4 Series variants use an eightspeed automatic, so there are no manuals, at least until the M4 arrives sometime next year.

However M-Sport variants are equipped with a new ‘sprint’ function for the the fastest possible turn of speed. transmission. It’s similar to Porsche’s ‘Sport Response’ system, which primes the engine and gearbox for In the BMW, you activate it by holding down the left-hand gear-shift paddle.

If you squint, and imagine a tougher stance and bodywork, you’re looking at the next M4

BMW’s engineers have focused on making the 4 Series a sportier and more dynamic alternative to its sedan sibling. That’s encouraging given the 3 Series is already one of the most dynamically pleasing sedans on the market and easily the driver’s pick compared to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.

Expect a firmer ride than the 3 Series, though, as BMW has fitted stiffer springs, beefed up the antialso claims a perfect 50:50 weight distribution has been achieved.

Built at BMW’s Dingolfing plant, the new G22 4 Series should arrive in Australia by October. Expect to pay a $10K premium over 3 Series variants.

Despite the best efforts of the engineers, however, the biggest 4 Series talking point will be that grille. BMW has clearly gone all in. The question is: can you abide?

CAMERON KIRBY

IN FOCUS

It’s in the family...

Every BMW since the brand’s first bespoke model, the 303, has featured the iconic kidney grille design. In the almost 90 years since then, the look has evolved and changed significantly. Interestingly, the G22 has brought the grille full circle and echoes the original design.

THE WHEELS INSIGHT

5 KEY CHANGES MADE TO THE G22 4 SERIES

1. There is no mechanical or performance benefit granted from that huge grille. It’s all aesthetic

2. Mild-hybrid tech available for the first time. Helping boost grunt and improve efficiency

3. A raft of extra chassis stiffening is added to 4 Series compared to its sedan sibling

4. 4 Series has specific braking and steering tunes – the latter boasting a variable ratio

5. Styling tweaks reduce aerodynamic lift, improve drag coefficient to 0.25