BMW 4 Series review - Do chassis tweaks make the 2017 4 Series a real drivers' car? - Ride and handling

The entire 4 Series range is made up of stylish, comfortable and competent models

Evo rating
Price
from £32,335
  • Quality cabin, elegant exterior styling, excellent drivetrains
  • Not the most exciting BMW to drive…

Ride and handling

The new BMW 4 Series is a little bit of a double-edged sword in terms of ride and handling. An increased emphasis on comfort over the preceding E92/E93 3 Series sees the new car lose a little of its dynamic edge. As such, some of the kudos that marked the BMW out as the enthusiasts’ choice has been lost. BMW has reinstated some of that dynamic edge with the facelifted version available from April 2017 onwards. It has uprated suspension components over the older model, but the 4 Series Coupé is still a car that majors on long distance comfort over B-road thrills.

The rough scale of ride comfort in ascending order goes Coupé, Gran Coupé and then Convertible, with the latter proving extremely supple and refined when cruising.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Subscribe now and get your first 5 issues for £5 or buy the latest issue in all good newsagents!

Of course, that means the inverse is true of the handling; indeed, a 420d SE Convertible can get very ragged in terms of body control and does understeer if you decide to go to anything like seven-tenths pace. That’s not a huge issue in a four-seat diesel open-top (indeed, in any of the Convertibles), but given that the 4 Series Coupé isn’t the sharpest tool in the box either, it’s indicative of the change of direction beyond just mere badging that the 4 Series has undergone.

One of the best is the manual 440i M Sport Coupé, which manages to just keep its ride on the acceptable side of harsh despite rolling on 19-inch wheels and also proves to be a progressive, entertaining steer. The xDrive system is good technology for a company that has resisted all-wheel drive non-SUVs for so long and it provides the models it is fitted to with huge reserves of grip no matter what the weather – but the driven front axle changes the whole dynamic of the machine. It turns the 4 Series into a passable impression of a well-sorted Audi equipped with quattro. The biggest loser here is the 435d, which can only be had as an xDrive model no matter which body or trim you select.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

BMW’s Servotronic steering should be commended though, because as electro-mechanical systems go, it’s pretty feelsome and pleasing to use in the 4 Series. The brakes are also strong across the range, an area that BMW has struggled with in the past.

evo Tip

Unless you live in a very remote area, avoid xDrive four-wheel drive models. While they do indeed possess superb traction and the sort of sure-footedness that would elude the drivers of previous 3 Series incarnations, the driven front axle robs the 4 Series of some of that traditional BMW chassis brilliance. The rear-drive cars are hardly faultless dynamically, but they are a little more engaging than the all-wheel drive versions.

evo Comment

The 4 Series offers up a broad level of driver engagement. A manual 440i M Sport for example can supply a dynamic package that in many ways will leave you wondering why you'd be looking at a full fat M4. Then you have the 435d xDrive M Sport, which is very much on the quick-but-dull path that has been trodden by so many quattro Audi over the years.

It used to be the case that when you drove, say, a 316i version of the E30 3 Series, despite its power deficit you could feel the BMW driving DNA running through it in the same vein as a contemporary M3 – but many of the more basic 4 Series models don’t possess that sparkle.

The convertible in particular is a big let down. Soft in the chassis department, it is difficult to recommend over four-seat open-top models from rivals like Mercedes-Benz or Audi.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/porsche/911/201958/porsche-911-gt3-vs-gt3-rs-vs-gt2-rs-track-battle
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 GT3 vs GT3 RS vs GT2 RS - track battle

Porsche’s GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS are the most hardcore of the 911 breed, but pitched head‑to‑head which will we crown champion?
15 Nov 2019
Visit/ferrari/201950/new-ferrari-roma-612bhp-198mph-gt-car-joins-the-range
Ferrari

New Ferrari Roma: 612bhp, 198mph GT car joins the range

Ferrari has expanded its GT car range with the V8 powered Ferrari Roma
14 Nov 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
15 Nov 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019