Used 2016 BMW 4 Series Review
With its excellent performance and premium appointments, the 2016 BMW 4 Series is a top pick for a luxury sport coupe or convertible.
For the past few years, the BMW 4 Series has been the consensus favorite among luxury sport coupes and convertibles. It doesn't take long to understand why once you're behind the wheel. If you follow cars, you've probably heard some noise about the 4 Series' diminished "feel" relative to its two-door 3 Series predecessors, and there's some truth to that. But the bottom line is that no rival can match this BMW's engaging driving demeanor, and its top-notch luxury and technology features make it a uniquely well-rounded package for the money.
The 2016 4 Series is lower and wider than the 3 Series sedan with which it shares a platform, giving it a sleeker look that meets expectations in this style-driven segment. Inside, the 4 Series gets a number of new features for 2016 that burnish its appeal, including standard sport seats across the board and additional standard items like a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo for the top-of-the-line 435i. Under the hood, last year's four- and six-cylinder engines carry over, meaning that the six-cylinder 435i lacks the stronger next-generation inline-6 found in the 2016 340i sedan. One of the few complaints we have about the 4 Series is that the 435i isn't sufficiently faster than the four-cylinder 428i, an issue that will have to wait a bit longer for resolution.
There are some pretty enticing competitors in this price range, but they all have their weaknesses. While the Audi A5 certainly looks and drives the part of a luxury two-door, its sole engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder that's blown away by the 428i's overachieving four. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe is caught between generations, with the dated previous-generation model giving way to a dashing new version that won't be available this year. Likewise, the aged Infiniti Q60 is on life support with a new model in the works. One of the strongest 4 Series alternatives at the moment -- hard as it might be to believe -- is the Ford Mustang GT. It lacks the BMW's relatively roomy backseat and premium pedigree but otherwise delivers comparable handling and performance and respectable refinement at a much more affordable price.
If you're getting the sense that the 4 Series is a dominant force in its class, you're not wrong. It might be a different story in 2017, but for now, the Edmunds "A" rated 2016 BMW 4 Series rules the roost.
trim levels & features
The 2016 BMW 4 Series is available as a two-door coupe and a retractable-hardtop convertible. There are two trim levels: 428i and 435i. An "xDrive" on the end connotes all-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive. Despite the misleading name, the 2016 4 Series Gran Coupe is a four-door sedan that's covered in a separate review. The high-performance M4 is also reviewed separately.
Standard equipment for the 428i coupe includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights with LED accents, foglights, auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, 10-way power front sport seats (including power side bolsters), driver memory settings, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, fold-down rear seatbacks, dual-zone automatic climate control, BMW's iDrive electronics interface (with a 6.5-inch display screen), BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a nine-speaker audio system with a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack, HD radio and a CD player.
In place of the sunroof, the 428i convertible has a power-retractable hardtop with a wind blocker. Interestingly, the convertible also includes folding rear seats -- a feature rarely seen in drop tops.
The 435i adds a more powerful engine, keyless ignition and entry (including a foot sensor for the trunk), four-way power lumbar for the front seats, satellite radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
There are a number of available options packages. The Premium package for the 428i adds the 435i's keyless ignition and entry, power lumbar and satellite radio, as well as leather upholstery. The Technology package adds an upgraded iDrive system (including navigation, voice controls, a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display screen and a touchpad-enhanced controller) along with a color head-up display, a more capable trip computer, BMW Online (provides real-time news and info to the car), BMW Apps (connectivity for select smartphone apps) and BMW Remote Services (allows select mobile devices to lock the car remotely, turns on the climate control and includes a stolen vehicle recovery service).
The Lighting package tacks on adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam control. A Cold Weather package adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and (on the convertible) neck-warming air vents for the front seats. The Driver Assistance package adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. Opting for the Driver Assistance Plus package gets you those features plus blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a side- and top-view camera system, speed limit info and a frontal-collision warning system with automatic braking.
The Luxury package adds special wood or aluminum interior trim, different wheels and a choice of leather upholstery (some at extra cost), as well as the option of non-sport seats if the standard sport seats seem too confining. The M Sport package also offers a range of trim and leather options, further adding an aero body kit and a sport-tuned suspension. The Track Handling package ups the ante with lightweight wheels, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, stronger brakes and variable-ratio steering.
There are some stand-alone options, too. Most notably, the 428i can be outfitted with the Harman Kardon stereo, while all models can be equipped with an automated parking system (parallel and perpendicular), side- and top-view cameras and adaptive cruise control.
performance & mpg
The 2016 BMW 4 Series comes with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive ("xDrive"). For both body styles, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. A manual transmission is a no-cost option for rear-drive coupes and the AWD 435i coupe. In order to save fuel, both transmissions come with an automatic stop-start function that turns off the engine when the car stops.
The 428i model employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds testing, a coupe with the automatic transmission raced to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, a swift result for a four-cylinder model in this segment.
The EPA estimates for the 4 Series vary a little bit depending on whether you get the coupe or convertible and on which engine/transmission combo you opt for. An automatic-equipped rear-wheel-drive 428i coupe is rated at 27 mpg combined (23 city/35 highway) and the manual transmission drops that down to 26 mpg combined (22/34), matching the 26 mpg combined of the AWD 428i coupe. In the 428i convertible with RWD you're looking at 27 mpg combined (23/34), dropping to 25 mpg combined (21/33) with AWD. These are generally excellent numbers for the class.
The 435i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. At our test track, a 435i coupe equipped with the six-speed manual charged from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is adequate for this class of car but unimpressive relative to the cheaper and more fuel-efficient 428i.
A 435i coupe with rear-wheel drive and the automatic transmission gets an EPA estimate of 24 mpg combined (20 city/31 highway), while the manual is rated at 23 mpg combined (20/30). If you want your 435i coupe with all-wheel drive (xDrive), the EPA estimates 23 mpg combined (20/30) for the automatic and 22 mpg combined (19/28) for the manual. On our test loop with a 435i xDrive coupe with the manual transmission, we achieved an easy 28 mpg.
Every 2016 BMW 4 Series comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and front knee airbags. The coupe gets side curtain airbags, while the convertible features a rollover protection system. BMW Assist emergency communications is standard and includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance. Options include parking sensors, a rearview camera, top- and side-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system, a drowsiness monitor and a frontal-collision warning system with automatic braking.
Furthermore, the 4 Series' stability control system integrates several unusual features designed to improve braking performance, such as periodically wiping the brake rotors dry when the windshield wipers are in use and automatically snugging the pads to the rotors when the driver abruptly lifts off the gas.
In Edmunds brake testing, a 428i coupe with the M Sport brakes and summer tires took 110 feet to stop from 60 mph, while a 435i coupe with the same equipment needed 113 feet. These are satisfactory but not great numbers for a luxury sport coupe on summer tires.
The 2016 BMW 4 Series' sleek exterior promises driving excitement, and the car largely delivers. Despite the 428i's modest power ratings, it comes through in real-world driving with remarkably punchy and quick acceleration, along with an engaging engine and exhaust note that will have you randomly downshifting just for fun. The 435i dials up the high-speed performance, but not dramatically so. You won't miss much at all by going with the 428i.
The available six-speed manual transmission is bound to please traditionalists with its buttery feel through the gates, and the eight-speed automatic works exceptionally well in both full-auto mode and manual mode via the paddle shifters. Either way, the refinement level is hard to top. One annoyance, however, is the gruff restart nature of the automatic engine stop-start function (particularly the 428i's), though it can be disabled.
When the road bends, the 4 Series is marvelously balanced, immediately instilling driver confidence with its firmly planted feel. The steering is very precise, though it lacks the detailed feedback that sets BMWs apart. Some might find the ride quality overly firm, but the Track Handling package's electronically adjustable adaptive suspension nearly erases road imperfections while further boosting the car's stability.
The 4 Series cabin is mostly borrowed from the 3 Series, featuring the same classy, understated design and premium materials. The company's traditional analog gauges provide a historical link with BMWs of previous decades, while the various trim options let you tailor the cabin to your own taste.
In terms of technology, the basic 6.5-inch display screen is adequate, but you'll want to get the larger, optional screen for a true luxury-electronics interface. Overall, iDrive is pretty easy to use, thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times. But compared to some rival systems, it seems like a few more twirls and clicks are sometimes required to get what you want.
A lower seating position than in the sedan helps create a distinctly sporting vibe inside the BMW 4 Series. The standard front sport seats are very supportive and comfortable, even boasting power-adjustable side bolsters, an extraordinary standard feature in this class. Less form-fitting seats can be specified with the Luxury package if desired. Rear headroom is limited by the roof line, which swoops lower than in the 3 Series coupes of yore, but there's still enough space back there for average-sized adults.
Luggage space is generous by two-door standards, including the convertible. Lowering the convertible's power-folding hardtop takes about 20 seconds.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.