Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 BMW 428I COUPE: ALMOST ‘M’!

‘BMW’s new coupe is shapely and gorgeous with a dose of attitude, thanks to the M Sport body kit,’ says Dan Scanlan.
It all began in 1968 with the 2002 – a streamlined bathtub-shaped BMW sports coupe with a 2-liter 100-horsepower Four. Then the first of the most popular BMW was born – the 3-Series - with the 100.9-inch wheelbase, 110-horsepower 320i coupe. Four more generations would follow with the same formula – sleek body, precision handling and powerful motors that expanded to turbocharging, inline sixes and turbo-diesels in a coupe, sedan and wagon. Then BMW expanded its line and the coupe became a separate 4-Series, as in our 428i.
Compare the outgoing 328i with the new 428i and you may agree with BMW that the new mid-size coupe has a decidedly different flavor from the sedan and brings some of the larger 6 Series and 8 Series Coupes into its DNA. The 428i is a half-inch longer than the last 3-Series Coupe atop an almost two-inch longer wheelbase, but stands a half-inch shorter. The familiar twin kidney grill is more vertical, the virtual apex of the nose leading the shape. Its chrome surround flows into the glaring quad-element HID headlights, each lens circled by BMW’s trademark halo running light rings with an LED “eyebrow.”

Our test car’s M Sport aerodynamic package added large air intakes on a much more aggressive, wider and deeper lower center intake with a lower air dam. It’s flanked by chiseled side intakes with slim outboard air intakes. That’s no design vent aft of the gently flared front fenders. Called the Air Breather, its glossy black shape is said to reduce drag and connects to those slim vertical inlets up front, improving airflow around the outside of the front wheels and cutting fuel consumption at higher speeds, BMW says.

 Our car sat on M Sport 18-inch twin-blade 5-spoke alloy wheels wearing Bridgestone Potenza P225/45R18 front and P255/40 R18-inch rear rubber, the M Sport brakes’ blue calipers and huge discs visible. The flank’s rising design line spears large LED taillights, while twin chromed steel tips accent the exhaust on a gloss gray M Sport lower bumper fascia, part of the Individual Shadow Line high gloss exterior trim that also includes gray lower accents on the side mirrors, with their LED turn signal repeaters.
The looks, thanks to the M Sport, are close to the M4 if not as hunkered down and aggressive.

You settle into deeply sculpted, comfortably soft and nicely supportive tan faux leather sport bucket seats with eight-way power adjustments, manual thigh support and dual memory presets for the driver. Silver-trimmed gauges – 160-mph speedometer and 7,500-rpm tach – hang over a small color trip computer screen.
The Sport steering wheel has a thick grippy leather-clad rim, with simply elegant cruise controls on the left, stereo/trip computer/phone buttons on the right, and small alloy and black paddle shifters behind the manually tilt/telescoping wheel. Under the flat-screen iDrive monitor, which looks like an afterthought on the padded black dashtop, basic stereo buttons and a dual-zone climate control system – all cleanly and elegantly minimal. The center console has a storage tray and 12-volt outlet under a door, the Sport/Comfort/Economy button and four-axis
twirl-and-tap iDrive knob.

The 428i’s rear seats are actually usable by an adult and the seatback splits 40/20/40, the center foldable to carry long stuff that extends into the trunk. That trunk is decent in size with storage underneath the floor. Nice touches – glowing lights in the door handles when you unlock it at night and headlights that bend into curves.

BMW’s new 4 Series Coupe comes in two flavors - our 428i with a twin-scroll turbocharged 2-liter Four with 240 horsepower at 5,000 – 6,500 rpm and peak torque of 255 pound-feet, or a turbocharged 302-horsepower 3-liter inline Six. Both are available with either eight-speed sport automatic or six-speed manual transmissions.

Click SPORT mode and throttle response is improved, while the transmission shifts faster in the peak torque. Hit the gas and our 6,700-mile-old red coupe hit 60-mph in 5.9 seconds, gaining about two-tenths of a second when we left-foot-braked and nudged the throttle to get boost up before launch. Then there was the ECO PRO mode - engine management software drops
the power down while the transmission upshifts sooner and remains in a higher gear
longer for improved fuel mileage. The engine shuts down at stoplights to save fuel, then
fires up quickly when you lift off the brake.


Our car body’s front end is 60 percent more rigid than the last-gen 3 Series Coupe and up to 99 pounds lighter. There’s lots of aluminum for lightness and M Sport modifications with a firmer spring/shock absorber setup, stiffer anti-roll bars, and also adaptive to vary the feel between comfort and sport. 


Set in COMFORT, the BMW 428i became plusher on bumps than any other recent Bimmer. While fine for puttering around, the car didn’t feel like a BMW of old – a bit too floaty. Snap on SPORT and the steering becomes more direct and noticeably firmer. That’s where this felt like a BMW of old – a firm and responsive suspension that buffered bumps quickly as the car just went through curves with precise steering input. It just tracked through turns beautifully with minimal body roll, a flick of the wheel to change direction. Push harder in turns and a touch of understeer shows up, easily dialed out with some throttle.
Click SPORT+ mode and the stability control threshold is raised to allow a bit more rear end oversteer under throttle, a more chuckable coupe that telegraphed its intentions through wheel and seat. The electric power steering was precise and offered great feel, a perfect companion to how well this BMW dances when the adaptive suspension is set right. With our M Sport’s blue aluminum fixed calipers (four-piston front/two-piston rear) clamping bigger discs, brake pedal feel was precise and controllable and stopping power perfect. We detected no fade after repeated panic brake-style stops from 60-mph.
The base price on our 428i Coupe was $40,500, while a 435i Coupe starts at $46,000. While there’s a lot standard like a sport automatic transmission, universal garage door opener, auto-dim mirrors, power front seats, xenon headlights and climate control, there were some extras. The metallic paint is $550; M Sport package’s 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension sport seats, wood trim, M steering wheel and aero body kit was $3,500. We also had the $1,000 dynamic handling kit with variable sport steering and $650 M Sport brakes.
The final price: $47,125.

I don’t know why BMW birthed the compact 4-Series coupe off the 3-Series. But the result is a thoroughly modern, sexy, sporty and very capable coupe that is very livable when you commute and almost exactly what you expect when you want to drive – hard. Can’t wait for the M4!


For more information about the latest from BMW, please visit http://www.bmwusa.com/default.aspx


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