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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Introduction
It can be argued, quite successfully in fact, the small BMW coupe is what brought the company’s cars to the fore in the United States. The seminal 1968 BMW 2002 awoke American enthusiasts to an entirely new way to roll.
In what has to be one of the best car reviews ever written, Car & Driver’s David E. Davis said; “The BMW 2002 may be the first car in history to successfully bridge the gap between the diametrically-opposed automotive requirements of the wildly romantic car nut on one hand, and the hyper-pragmatic people at Consumer Reports on the other. It rides like a dream. It has a surprising amount of room inside. It gets great gas mileage. It's finished, inside and out, like a Mercedes-Benz, but it doesn't cost very much. But for the enthusiasts—at the same time, and without even stepping into a phone booth to change costume—it goes like bloody hell and handles like the original bear.”
This describes perfectly the philosophy underpinning the 1968 BMW 2002—and the 2014 BMW 428i.
Remarkably, some 46 years later, the 428i can be described using the exact same words (OK, well, all except the cost part…). Like that 1968 2002, the 2014 BMW 428i is a car with a dual nature. It too, is comfortable, stylish, well finished, and gets great gas mileage. However, when you put the spurs to it, the BMW 428i hunkers down and rips along the road like a screaming little sports car.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Lineup and Prices
For the 2014 model year, the BMW 4 Series coupe will be available in two iterations; 428i and 435i. Eventually, plans call for a convertible, a four-door coupe in the mold of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, and the highly anticipated almighty M4.
Both the 428i and the 435i are available with all-wheel drive. BMW refers to those as the 428i xDrive Coupe and the 435i xDrive Coupe. Further, each model is available in one of three states of trim—Luxury, M Sport, and Sport Line.
Base price for the 2014 BMW 428i is $41,425—including destination charges.
Eleven chromed and matte black slats in the traditional BMW kidney grille serve to distinguish the face of the car when it is fitted with the $1,700 Luxury package. The front apron’s outer air intakes feature two high-gloss double bridges. Chromed Air Breathers garnish the front fenders. You’ll note the window surrounds are done in chrome. And, there’s a specific 18-inch wheel for both cars, as well as an optional 19-inch light-alloy wheel for the 435i. A high-gloss chrome strip in the apron and chrome exhaust tips accent the rear. The interior décor also employs a variety of chrome elements, in addition to polished wood strips, leather seats with stitching, and a choice of two upholstery variants in four colors.
Sport Line 4 Series coupes get a sport suspension package on rear drive cars, while all of the chrome of the Luxury package is replaced with black trim for the $2,100 kit. The Sport Line kidney grille gets nine slats, finished in black—with a chrome surround. The wheels feature a twin-spoke design. Black and red accents enhance the sporty feel of the interior, complementing the sport steering wheel.
The $3,500 M Sport package adds sport seats, an aluminum pedal set and doorsill finishers, along with an aero kit, an M Sport steering wheel, and Dakota Leather. M Sport brakes are an option for 435i M Sport cars and an optional upgrade for M Sport 428i models.
The 2014 BMW 435i Coupe starts at $46,925. The 2014 428i xDrive Coupe and 435i xDrive starts at $43,425 and $48,925 respectively—also including destination charges.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Styling and Interior
While immediately recognizable as a BMW coupe, the 4 Series car is longer, lower and wider than its 3 Series predecessor. Originally shown as the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, the new coupe retains the long nose/short deck architecture of BMW models and pairs it with wider rear fender flares covering a two-inch wider rear track than the one enjoyed by the 2013 BMW M3.
All of the signature details are there, the four round headlights and the double kidney grilles are retained, though the headlights now flow into the grilles for a unified, more singular appearance to the car’s face. At the trailing edge of the front fenders, apertures BMW refers to as Air Breathers work in concert with openings in the lower front valance for the Air Curtains to reduce drag around the front wheels.
Inside, a three-tiered approach to the dash gives an added sense of dimensionality, while the center stack remains slightly canted toward the driver to ease access to secondary controls. Speaking of which, with the seat properly positioned for comfort, all of the controls are within easy reach without leaning forward. You simply reach out, and they’re right there.
BMW stopped feeling the need to hide the screen for the iDrive functions a while back, so it is nicely integrated atop the dash. The controller resides on the center console and incorporates a touch sensitive face atop the dial for effecting changes with finger movements only.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Comfort and Cargo
The larger exterior dimensions are generously reflected inside the car. Settling into the comfortably bolstered seats, the seat belt valet extends to hand you the belt so you don’t have to reach back to the B-pillar. If front seat passengers are benevolent, the rear seats offer enough legroom for two adults to be comfortable for a reasonable amount of time. The rear cabin’s sculptural quality gives the appearance of two molded seats.
Speaking of the secondary seats, their backs split fold 40:20:40. The center section folds independently to permit longer items in the trunk to protrude into the passenger compartment, while still providing suitable accommodations for two rear-seat occupants.
On cars equipped with the optional comfort access feature, the trunklid can be opened with a short movement of the foot under the middle of the rear bumper. The new BMW coupe offers 15.7 cubic feet of trunk volume.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Safety and Technology
Leading the list of safety features for the 2014 BMW 4 Series Coupes is BMW Assist with 10 years of emergency calling, Automatic Collision Notification, and BMW TeleService. In an accident, the BMW “phones home”, tells the call center where it is, which way it was going, and employs an Urgency Algorithm to provide a sense of how significant an event it is reporting.
With this information, the call center can get emergency services personnel headed the car’s way in a much shorter period of time. The system can also be triggered manually to enable BMW drivers to act as Samaritans for those of other lesser-equipped vehicles found to be in trouble. BMW’s TeleService takes into account hours of usage and conditions of usage to inform the driver of maintenance needs when they arise—based on the car’s specific experiences.
The iDrive system has been updated to incorporate the aforementioned Touchpad system. Integrated into the top of the iDrive controller, it permits phone numbers, contact names and address to be written out directly. It can also be used to zoom in and out on the map in the navigation system—as well as set parameters for the audio system.
The 4 Series cars also offer a Head Up Display, Active Cruise Control with a stop and go function, Active Blind Spot detection, Lane Departure Warning, and an Active Driving Assistant to warn the driver of potential collisions. The headlights can be fitted with full LED headlights, which incorporate High Beam Assistant to automatically switch between high and low beams.
The BMW’s rear view camera and Park Distance Control are supplemented by a Surround View function which enables the driver to view the areas immediately adjacent to the car on the monitor from a bird’s eye view.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Engines and Transmissions
As mentioned, at introduction, two engines are offered to power the 2014 BMW 4 Series cars. The 2014 BMW 428i employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque between 1,250 rpm and 4,000 rpm.
The 2014 BMW 435i comes fitted with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque between 1,200 rpm and 5,000 rpm.
Both engines employ high-pressure direct fuel injection and electronically variable valve control to maximize the power output and efficiency. They also employ twin-scroll turbochargers to eliminate turbo lag.
Their auto stop and start functions, along with brake energy regeneration and Eco Pro modes improve their fuel efficiency, while still enabling them to deliver the responsiveness expected of a BMW powerplant. The coolant pump, oil pump, and electric power steering system are configured to only consume power when they are in use. The brake regeneration system uses braking as much as possible, rather than the alternator, to generate electricity for its various electrical functions.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is the standard offering for both engines, although a six-speed manual can be had as an option for each variant, save the all-wheel drive 428i xDrive. The eight-speed transmission also offers a manual shift mode via either a pair of paddles mounted on the steering wheel, or tipping the shift lever on the center console. The transmission offers two different shifting algorithms, Normal and Sport. In the sport mode it holds gears longer for maximum acceleration and engine braking.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Driving Impressions
Yes, it’s longer, lower and wider, and it still “goes like bloody hell and handles like the original bear.” And while the thought of a four-cylinder mid-size BMW coupe might be a sobering one for some, keep in mind that 2002 was a four banger as well. While BMW’s silken inline six-cylinder engines are the envy of the entire automotive universe, the company knows its way around a four pretty well too.
In fact, if you never drive the 435i, confine yourself strictly to the 428i; you’ll never miss the additional power of the six-cylinder engine. The turbo four pulls strongly, makes all the right sounds and defies you to ascertain the fact it doesn’t have those two additional cylinders. Indeed, the first time we drive BMW’s turbo four our companion had to inform us it was running two shy of the big guy.
Much of this prowess can be chalked up to the twin-scroll turbocharging system. There is simply no discernable turbo lag—at all. You press the pedal, the car goes. No hesitation, no big bump of power when the turbo “kicks in”, nothing. The car just goes, and sounds beautifully in the process.
Meanwhile, thanks to the lowered center of gravity and the retained 50:50 weight distribution—enhanced by the lighter four-cylinder engine in its nose, the 428i Coupe responds to commands from the wheel adroitly, turns in crisply, and exhibits next to no body roll in the process. If cars had them, “stability” would be the 2014 BMW 428i’s middle name. This is a car you’ll enjoy driving, wherever you’ll have to go, and whenever you need to be there.
On the move, smoothness and fluidity are the words of the day—every day. Even with the four-cylinder engine, this BMW is one of the most polished feeling cars we’ve ever driven. Further, the seating position is first rate, the instrumentation is readily legible, and as we said before; all the controls seem to reach out to you—just as you reach out to operate them.
When this company says it builds the ultimate driving machine, it ain’t just blowing smoke y’all. Well, other than the blue tire smoke the car generates when you apply the engine’s full 255 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheels from a standing start with the traction control system switched off.
Beautifully though, even with all of this capability, around town and in more mundane situations, the BMW 428i is quiet, comfortable and utterly composed. You’ll arrive in classic style, exuding considerable dignity behind the wheel of the BMW coupe.
Nobody needs to know what you did on the way there—except you.
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2014 BMW 428i First Drive: Final Thoughts
What else is there to say? Some people may be put off by the new naming convention, others may wonder with the 4 Series Gran Coupe in the wings, why the 3 Series sedan still exists, and others—well, some people just always have to have something to itch about.
But the fact remains; this is the best mid-size BMW coupe offered to date.
We like the blend of comfort, capability, efficiency, performance, sport and luxury. Someone once said in trying to be everything to everyone, you run the very real risk of being nothing to anyone. BMW proves time and again it is possible for a car to serve two masters—and to do so with considerable verve.
We’ll have to rate this new Bimmer a “must consider”.
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