Our 428i tester came equipped with the Sport package (including good, sticky summer tires) and the all-wheel-drive xDrive option. This combination means that even with foolish disregard for personal well being, the car happily grips and goes at eyebrow-raising speed. The 428i is a very easy car to get in and immediately feel confident driving aggressively – it’s just that well sorted.

The other bitter pill enthusiasts and BMW traditionalists have had to swallow in the name of responsible progress is the replacement of the smooth, ripping inline-six with a four-banger in the 328. This also applies to the 4 Series and our 428i test car was so equipped.

Test Drive: 2014 BMW 428i xDrive car test drives luxury cars bmw Test Drive: 2014 BMW 428i xDrive car test drives luxury cars bmw
2014 BMW 428i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

The 2.0L turbo most assuredly does not sound like a BMW I6, but it honestly does not sound like most buzzy four cylinders either. Its voice is deeper than most and being a luxury car, it’s muted and distant enough to not be troublesome anyway. There is an obvious refinement to this engine in the way it goes about its business that some of BMW’s competitors have missed (Mercedes-Benz’s more coarse four-pot comes to mind). What’s more with 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, it’s capable of moving the 428i along at an exciting pace, even if it is a little soft off the line compared to the 335i/435i siblings with their boosted six-cylinder engines.

Test Drive: 2014 BMW 428i xDrive car test drives luxury cars bmw
2014 BMW 428i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

Since the turbo sixes are indisputably better, the only reason to choose the smaller engine in the 4 Series is an economical one. A 428i starts at $44,900; a 435i at exactly ten grand more, though it does come with more features, but you’re still paying almost $179 for each additional pony.

Where the four-cylinder surprisingly does not deliver much economical benefit is in its fuel efficiency. BMW cites a combined city-highway average of 7.2 L/100 km for the 428i xDrive and 8.6 for a 435i xDrive. A week of mixed urban streets, rural back roads and highway cruising netted an observed average of just over 10 L/100 km. Curiously, the 335i xDrive equipped with snow tires earlier this spring produced an average of 9.8 L/100 km driven in a similar fashion in the same region. Obviously it’s not a scientific comparison, but does illustrate that real world consumption rates of the four-banger may not be as optimistic as one would hope. The 428i tester was fairly green though with about 1,600 km on the odometer, which could mean it still needs to loosen up a bit for optimal performance.

The same eight-speed automatic that has been popping up in all sorts of cars lately has never been better tuned or better suited for duty than the way it is in recent BMWs. In Eco mode, the transmission will race its way up to taller gears in the interest of fuel savings, but transforms completely in Sport mode, holding gears aggressively but shifting with deliberate, yet butter-smooth action. If you’re insistent on a neutered BMW (aka one without a stick-shift, which is the only way you can order a 428i with xDrive), you could do a lot worse than this excellent gearbox.

Having said that, a lack of paddle shifters on a car with such sporting pretensions seems ridiculous and the confounded push-for-downshift; pull-for-upshift system in BMWs is frustrating to work with, so it’s a darn good thing the system is so good when left to its own devices.

About Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson is a Hamilton-based automotive journalist and accredited member of AJAC. When not pursuing his automotive passions, he divides his time between being a dad, husband and television producer.