THERE has been a considerable amount of interest invested by the media and indeed by the public around BMW’s new model naming structure. The issue many have taken is that by changing the model designation one would expect to get an entirely different vehicle.
For instance, the previous generation three-series had the three-series coupè while this time around the F30 three-series is its own model and in the place of the coupè is the new four-series, which is based on the three-series. So when I received the 435i coupé to test I had to establish a few things to determine whether the new nomenclature is warranted or not.
The first thing you notice is how dynamic the four looks, compared to the three; it’s wider and lower, creating a more sporty appearance. The interior looks identical to that of the three, albeit without the rear doors and the coupè roof line, which means the rear quarters are slightly more cramped and not as accessible.
For those who want the wide body look of the four series don’t fret as there is a four- series Gran Coupè on the way. Yes, you heard correctly, there’s now a four-door version of the two-door version of a four-door car of which there’s also a Gran Touring version, which adds up to a total of four vehicles with very similar proportions made by the same manufacturer. The crazy thing is, although the models share the same mechanisms and even dimensions to a large extent, each model appeals to a very distinctive market.
Back to the four-series coupè and what a machine it is. The three-litre twin power turbo is a single turbo with twinscroll technology to reduce lag. The 435i produces 225kW/400Nm which is ample. However, I did ask myself why the output is not the 240kW/450Nm that the M235i produced especially when you consider that the next model up from the 435i is the upcoming 310kW+ M4. That being said a 0-100kmh sprint time of 5.1 seconds and a top speed limited to 250km/h makes the 435i more than fast enough for everyday use.
The M Sport suspension comes standard on the BMW 435i, which features a firmer spring/damper set-up and stiffer anti-roll bars. Its kinematics/elastokinematics have received attention as well. There’s also an electronic differential which is barely perceivable. I personally prefer the feeling of the mechanical differential but there is no denying the former’s efficacy. This means the 435i handles beautifully and because of its relatively long wheel base you get a car that isn’t snappy on the limit and has superb balance while maintaining a level of comfort.
It’s when changing through the four different modes that you really feel how versatile the car is. The most noticeable changes, when flicking through the driving modes, are the gearbox and throttle responses. Every time I drive a car with this ZF eight-speed transmission it impresses with its intuition, adaptability and slick changes. In EcoPro and Normal mode it’s possible to sip around 7.0 litres/100km (7.2 litres/200km claimed on a mixed cycle) while in Sport and Sport+ modes you have a proper sports coupè with excellent dynamic qualities.
The 435i is an impressive product. It ticks all the right boxes for a sports coupè and even provides some real world practicality and efficiency. My test unit with the options was close to R800 000 which is quite a hefty sum for a car in this class. That being said, many options were thrown in and with base prices starting at R691 527 it will undercut the M4 by quite a bit when it arrives. For now it will have to worry about the Audi S5 coupè, which is slightly dearer but offers the same if not better performance.