Years ago, the model name of a BMW would typically imply what size of the engine was under the hood. A 325i, for example, would have a 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine, while a 740i came with a 4.0-liter V8. It was a bit of nerdy car code that was satisfying to decipher. But those days are gone, and today's BMWs use the same unrelated numeric naming as most luxury automakers. Case in point would be the 2017 BMW 4 Series, which takes last year's models — 428i and 435i — and uses a bit of marketing math to round them up to 430i and 440i, respectively.
What do you get for the numerical creep? Well, BMW has introduced in a new generation of engines to the 2017 4 Series. The basics remain the same, but both the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (430i) and turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder (440i) produce a bit more power this year. For what it's worth, you also get an updated iDrive interface and the availability of wireless device charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot with this year's 4 Series.
Marketing shenanigans aside, though, you're still left with what we consider one of the top luxury sport coupes and convertibles available. Once you're behind the wheel, you understand why. The 4 Series' luxury and technology features are superb, but it's the BMW's engaging driving character, which few rivals can match, that make it such a unique and well-rounded package for the money.
You do have options for a luxury coupe or convertible, of course. The fresh look of the redesigned Mercedes-Benz C-Class is lustworthy, and its performance and handling should prove every bit the 4 Series equal. The Infiniti Q60 doesn't possess quite the same cachet as the BMW, but a new look, a new interior and a new V6 mean it's a serious alternative. You might also like the sharp-handling Cadillac ATS coupe or the distinctive-looking Lexus RC. Even the Ford Mustang, odd as it might sound, is one of the stronger 4 Series competitors, with comparable handling and performance and respectable refinement at a more affordable price.
Overall, though, the BMW is still a dominant force in its class. If you're looking for a luxury sport coupe or convertible, you owe yourself a test drive of the 2017 4 Series.
The 2017 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 forward collision warning system with automatic braking.
Furthermore, the 4 Series' stability control system integrates several unused 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.
We haven't yet tested the new models, but last year's 428i coupe with the M Sport brakes and summer tires took 110 feet to stop from 60 mph in our instrumented testing. 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.
trim levels & features
The 2017 BMW 4 Series is available as a two-door coupe and a retractable-hardtop convertible. There are two trim levels: 430i and 440i. An xDrive suffix denotes all-wheel drive. Despite the misleading name, the 2017 4 Series Gran Coupe is a four-door sedan that we've reviewed separately.
Standard equipment for the 430i coupe includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights with LED accents, foglights, auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, imitation-leather (premium vinyl) upholstery, power-adjustable front sport seats (including power-adjustable side bolsters), driver-seat memory settings, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, fold-down rear seatbacks, dual-zone automatic climate control, the iDrive technology interface with a 6.5-inch display screen, BMW Assist, Bluetooth connectivity and a nine-speaker audio system with a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack, HD radio and a CD player.
In place of a sunroof, the 430i convertible has a power-retractable hardtop with a wind blocker. The convertible also includes a folding rear seat, a feature rarely seen in drop-tops.
The 440i adds a more powerful engine, keyless ignition and entry, a hands-free trunk release, front seat four-way power lumbar adjustment, satellite radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
A number of options packages are available. The Premium package for the 430i adds leather upholstery, keyless ignition and entry, power lumbar adjustment, satellite radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
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 information 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 climate control and includes a stolen vehicle recovery service).
Wireless device charging, enhanced Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and a Wi-Fi hotspot come with the Wireless Charging package. The Lighting package tacks on adaptive LED headlights and automatic high beams. 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, while the Driver Assistance Plus package adds blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a side- and top-view camera system, speed limit info and a forward collision warning system with automatic braking.
The Luxury package adds special wood or aluminum interior trim, different wheels and a choice of leather upholstery. 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 430i can be outfitted with the Harman Kardon stereo, and all models can be equipped with an automated parking system (parallel and perpendicular), Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, side- and top-view cameras and adaptive cruise control.
The 2017 BMW 4 Series comes with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (which BMW calls xDrive). For both body styles, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. A manual transmission is a no-cost option for rear-wheel-drive coupes and the all-wheel-drive 440i 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 430i model employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. EPA estimates vary a little depending on whether you get the coupe or the convertible and on which engine-transmission combo you choose. An automatic-equipped rear-wheel-drive 430i coupe is rated at 27 mpg combined (23 city/34 highway), which is impressive given the car's power.
The 440i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. A 440i coupe with rear-wheel drive and the automatic transmission gets an EPA estimated 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway), with other 440i variations earning slightly less.
The 2017 BMW 4 Series' sleek exterior promises driving excitement, and the car largely delivers — at least the models with the old engines did. Last year's 428i delivered remarkably punchy and quick acceleration, along with an engaging engine and exhaust note that would have you randomly downshifting just for fun. We expect the revised engine, 8 horsepower richer, to be even better.
The 440i's engine gets an even bigger boost, up 20 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque, and will perhaps address our primary criticism of last year's six-cylinder model: It wasn't all that much faster or better than the four-cylinder.
Transmissions haven't changed, and the available six-speed manual transmission is bound to please traditionalists with its buttery feel through the gates. The eight-speed automatic works exceptionally well in both full-auto mode and manual mode via the paddle shifters. Either way, the refinement is hard to top. One annoyance, however, is the gruff restart nature of the automatic engine start-stop function, 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 used to set BMW 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, and the various trim options let you tailor the cabin to your 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. This year's model also includes an upgrade to the latest iDrive software for 4 Series models with navigation. Compared to some rival systems, however, 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, 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.
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