► Facelifted 4-series driven
► Top-shelf 440i tested here
► Far more on offer than speed
In a world where every BMW 4-series Coupe desire is sewn up by the diesel 420d or petrol M4, all other variants start to look a bit niche.
The only exception is the 435d, the third best-selling coupe behind those mentioned above, which offers a mix of economy and pace for indecisive buyers.
In fact its talents are so wide-reaching that they bring the entire petrol line-up into question – the four-cylinder 420i and 430i offering little in the way of advantage other than lower list price.
That leaves the 440i, the sole non-M six-cylinder petrol, to compete not only with the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe and Audi S5, but the six-pot diesels and M4 within its own range.
Sounds like it needs to be pretty decent…
Luckily, it is. In a lot of ways the 440i is everything you need from a BMW coupe – fast, noisy (in the right way) with engaging handling and sweeping lines.
It’s true that you get the same package with the M4, but you’ll need £15,000 more to put one of those on your drive – and having to fend-off boy racers in hot hatches drawn to those M badges like catnip gets boring quickly.
Far better to fly under the radar with our otherwise indistinguishable coupe, with its performance limits far more accessible than the full-fat M-car allowing you to bend the rev-counter needle against the redline with satisfying regularity.
It’s also a better normal car than the M4 when you need it to be, with ferocious gearchanges giving way to homogeneous acceleration and the previously sharp throttle response dulled to a relaxing waft.
The same of course can be said for the 435d xDrive, which packs about the same horsepower but much more torque, so cracks 0-62mph three tenths quicker than our car’s five-second sprint. It’s also cheaper to run, of course. And better in the snow.
Awkward. Isn’t there a new Audi S5 too?
Yes, and in response BMW has sprinkled a few choice updates on the 4-series, including revamped front and rear bumpers, LED head and tail lights plus a fancy tile-based operating system for the sat-nav to make navigating it a lot easier.
You can also pick between two new colours and three new alloy wheel designs for the outside, and some new trims for the inside.
In handling terms the changes are a bit woollier – stiffer suspension, advanced dampers, and upgraded steering, says BMW. The upshot of this work is better body control and more neutral feel at the limit, and precise steering fed through a thicker, grippier wheel.
The old observations remain: the chassis feels nicely balanced and inspires confident driving, and the steering, although accurate and well-weighted, offers less feedback than you’d expect.
Check out BMW 4-series cars for sale
What about standard equipment on the revised BMW 4-series?
BMW has tidied up its 4-series range to include just Sport and M Sport variants, which makes life a bit easier.
Even more helpfully, the 440i is only available in the latter, so you get 18-inch alloys, dual tailpipes, M bodykit and suspension, BMW Professional sat-nav and leather steering wheel.
Curiously, the 440i misses out on the automatic gearbox standard to the six-cylinder diesels and its Convertible stablemate. A six-cog manual is what you get and you’ll need another £1,690 for the ZF eight-speeder.
For all intents and purposes the 435d is all the 4 Series you could ever need – prodigiously fast, comfortable when needs be, and (relatively) cheap to run.
But it’s a diesel isn’t it? It makes the wrong noise and doesn’t rev properly and you have to wear a pair of disposable gloves at the pump.
What you want is a petrol engine – and a proper, straight-six one at that. If you value a smooth power delivery and hair-raising soundtrack, don’t hesitate.
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