2018 BMW 4 Series First Drive | Edmunds

2018 BMW 4 Series First Drive

The Consistency of Change

It's been four years since the BMW 4 Series debuted. On average, a vehicle in this class goes seven to eight years before it's replaced, with a customary midcycle refresh right in the middle. Such is the case with the 2018 BMW 4 Series, a car that exemplifies the luxury sport coupe class. Amid formidable competition from recently redesigned rivals, the stakes are unusually high for this midcycle refresh.

Expectations were high, yet changes to this latest 4 Series are slight. As well as we know this model, identifying the updates is a difficult task. After spending plenty of time behind the wheel of the 2018 BMW 440i, however, we can confidently state that both the new Audi S5 and Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG have an edge over the 440i. That said, this BMW doesn't deserve to be crossed off your list yet — far from it.

2018 BMW 4 Series

A Little Nip and Tuck
When it comes to appearance, the 4 Series refresh barely moves the needle. Up front, there are new standard LED headlights with more angular accent lights and a slightly revised front apron (those horizontal air inlets under the bumper). New LED taillights, a revised rear apron and some new wheel designs round out the rest of the exterior changes. Inside, the most significant revisions include an available virtual instrument panel and tile-based infotainment interface. Subtle modifications to the steering wheel, dash stitching and trim finishes go largely unnoticed. BMW also retuned the suspension for improved handling and output on the 440i has been increased to 326 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque (an increase of only 6 hp and 2 lb-ft).

Otherwise, the 4 Series remains unchanged. You can choose between the coupe, a convertible and four-door Gran Coupe body styles, all of which are offered as either the four-cylinder 430i or the six-cylinder 440i. BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is also available on all models. We focused primarily on the 440i coupe with standard feature highlights that include an automatic transmission (a manual is available at no cost), 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic climate control, power sport seats, SensaTec synthetic leather upholstery, a rearview camera and a premium Harman Kardon audio system.

Bundled options include the Premium package (heated front seats, a navigation system with traffic, emergency telematics and an updated instrument panel); the M Sport package (unique exterior aerodynamic and cosmetic elements, higher-performance tires, a sport suspension, a higher top speed and a sport steering wheel); the Track Handling package (upgraded brakes, an adaptive suspension and variable sport steering); and the Executive package (adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, a surround-view camera system, an automated parking system and a head-up display). Other add-ons include larger wheels, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, a wireless charging pad, additional leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision mitigation and a lane departure warning system.

Pricing starts around $43,000 for the two-door 430i Coupe or the four-door Gran Coupe. The convertible costs about $7,000 more, while the 440i models start in the $50,000 range. Adding BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system will set you back another $2,000.

2018 BMW 4 Series

How It Feels on the Road
The 440i's six-cylinder engine gets the coupe up to speed effortlessly while the eight-speed automatic executes smooth and quick upshifts. The engine and exhaust sounds pleasantly burly, enhanced with synthesized noise through the interior speakers. The 430i's four-cylinder is also more than adequate for most drivers with even more aggressive engine and exhaust noises. Unfortunate weather conditions and winter tires kept us from exploring its more extreme handling capabilities, but overall this 440i felt just as confident and accomplished as its predecessor.

Likewise, the refreshed 4 Series also scores in regard to comfort. The adaptive suspension smoothes road imperfections in Comfort mode and, even in the most aggressive Sport+ mode, bumps are kept from being intrusive. Road and wind noise is silenced to luxury car standards, whether in coupe or convertible body styles. After several hours of touring, the seats were free of any hard points and provided plenty of support. Again, there's no significant change on this front and that's a good thing.

Same on the Inside, Too
Much like the rest of the 2018 BMW 4 Series, the interior sees only a few subtle changes. The biggest difference is in the way the iDrive infotainment system delivers content. The main screen can be divided into three sections to present a mix of music, destination, map and communication tiles. It's a bit more convenient than having to tap a button by the dial controller since your preferred tile can always be on display. Otherwise, the system functions as well as it has in the recent past.

A virtual instrument panel is now available, straying from BMW's traditional simple analog dials. Switching between Comfort, Eco and Sport modes changes the color and style of the gauges while typical driving information is still present. It's not as robust or ultra modern as Audi's, but it's still an interesting twist on BMW's normal layout. Other revisions throughout the cabin are mostly limited to trim materials, so you're unlikely to notice unless you're coming directly out of a previous model.

One area where the 4 Series shines is in cargo capacity. The trunk of the coupe measures 15.7 cubic feet, which is more space than other cars in the class. The convertible is limited to 13.1 cubic feet, which is still better than average, but the folding-top mechanisms on the sides greatly reduce usability. Among folding hardtops, however, it's a small price to pay.

2018 BMW 4 Series

Midpack in a Very Competitive Class
On its own merits, the 2018 BMW 440i is an excellent luxury sport coupe. It does everything well and if it was the only car in the class that you test-drove you would never regret buying one. But that's not what we recommend. The competition is just too strong. In particular, the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG is hard to ignore thanks to its athleticism and elegant interior. Then there's the Audi S5, which now sits at the top of this class with its flawless performance, thoroughly modern design and high-tech supremacy. In some ways, the BMW 4 Series splits the difference between its rivals, but you won't know if that's enough until you drive all three.

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