CAR's readers seem particularly adept at catching the upcoming BMW 4-series testing in the wild. We've previously seen these reader spy shots of the new car caravanning in southern France, and now it's been scooped on the Italian autostrada by CAR reader Raoul Tollmann.
Raoul tells us: "We spotted a fleet of camouflaged test mules on the autostrada. We knew they were BMWs because they were accompanied by a black 1-series with the sign 'Werkstestwagen' on the back; plus, all of the cars registered in Munich. I chased them while my girlfriend Clarismelda took pictures – and we gleefully felt like bad-ass paparazzi."
Don't be fooled by the appearance of a side gill on the right flank: this isn't a high-performance M4 variant. Though that car will come – packing a twin-turbo straight six engine with around 450bhp – this appears to be a more vanilla 4-series Convertible, sporting slightly peeling camo-tape. Note the single exhaust pipe rather than quad tailpipes, unlike the M3 mule we've seen testing in the USA.
BMW 4-series: the need-to-know
The 4-series Convertible will keep the folding hard-top design of the outgoing 3-series, unlike its soft-top Audi A5 rival. Why the name switch from 3 to 4? BMW wants to distinguish its coupes from their more mundane saloon sisters, as it has always done with the 5- and 6-series. As such, two-door variants of the current F30 3-series will be badged as 4-series, and the 1-series hatch will spawn a 2-series Coupe and Convertible line-up.
Look out for the 4-series Coupe in summer 2013, after a possible Geneva motor show unveiling. The origami-top Convertible will follow in early 2014. Prices are expected to rise more than is usual for 3-series derivatives, reflecting the more exclusive nature of the new moniker.