2014 BMW 428i xDrive
2014 BMW 428i xDrive
2014 BMW 428i xDrive
2014 BMW 428i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

Review and Photos by Jeff Wilson

Making sense of German car nomenclature these days is about as simple as grasping the finer points of advanced quantum physics. Sure someone out there knows what it all means, but for most of us, we’re happy to go about our business just accepting without trying to figure out why.

What we can fairly easily observe with most Teutonic automotive naming conventions is that a bigger number generally means greater prestige and bragging rights. BMW’s 750i sedan is far more than a 128i because seven is a much bigger number than one. There are a couple of other minor differences between the two machines as well (like cabin space and accouterments, not to mention engine size and power, yadda yadda), but sadly, many people don’t care about such trivialities and are only looking at the digits on the trunk lid.

With that in mind, is it any wonder the style-conscious are rejoicing BMW’s decision to name the new 3 Series coupe as the 4 Series? No longer will the image-hungry need to endure the shame of being seen driving the numerically same car as countless common-folk puttering about in their lowly 3 Series sedans and (shudder) wagons. Never mind that the 4 Series mirrors its lesser-numbered siblings in trim, drivetrain and most styling elements.

And where historically BMW’s sedans have endured a few styling missteps here and there, the coupes have always been celebrated for their beauty – particularly in the most recent generations of 3 Series two-doors.

The 4 Series – handsome in photos – is sensationally beautiful from every angle when actually experienced in the metal. Longer, lower and wider than the 3 Series coupe it replaces, the new car looks honestly and truly like a 5/8ths scale 650i (an even HIGHER number, which means it’s even more impressive).

Why dedicate so much verbiage here to naming, image and styling for a car from the “Ultimate Driving Experience” company? Because image matters when buying these compact personal luxury coupes. If it didn’t, why would buyers spend more money to sacrifice the sensible practicality of extra doors or a spacious cargo hold of a sedan or wagon, for no appreciable performance benefit whatsoever?

Except now that last point isn’t entirely true. In past coupe iterations the differences aside from the obvious door-ectomy were usually trivial. Maybe the coupes would have snazzier wheels and other superficial things, but mostly they just meant more money for fewer opening parts.

2014 BMW 428i xDrive2014 BMW 428i xDrive
2014 BMW 428i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

To help justify its bigger number BMW has seen fit to nip, tuck and tweak the 4 Series enough to make it a more sporting choice – if subtly so – over its many-doored compatriots.

The 4 Series is not only lower than its predecessor, but also lower than the current sedan – enough so in fact, that the centre of gravity is lowest of any current BMW model. The engineers have also reportedly stiffened both bushings and springs slightly versus similarly trimmed sedans, and even added stiffness bracing that will later serve for cabriolet versions too.

While all of these changes are incremental, they do add up to a better handling car than the sedan; one that’s both more planted and agile when tackling backroad kinks and curves.

What it doesn’t do is improve the slightly muted steering feel of the electric setup many auto scribes have moaned about in the 3 Series. In complete fairness though, while duller than previous generation 3 Series steering, BMW’s electric setup is still excellent and will not stand in the way of a motoring enthusiast enjoying his or her car in a spirited countryside drive.

Connect with Autos.ca