Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. What number is missing in the BMW line-up?
Hint: It's an inauspicious number in the Chinese culture, and is homophonous to the Chinese word for "death". Oh yes, the number 4 - and no, the superstitious Asians won't like that.
The 4-series is the new replacement for the 3-series coupe - don't forget to tune-in to BMW's convoluted naming system that makes even my ancestral family tree seem straightforward. Gran Coupes, GTs, i8s, and an Active Tourer? It will sink in soon, but in the mean time, feast your eyes on the new 2014 BMW 435i xDrive - or what I like to call, the teaser trailer for the M4. Honestly speaking, it could have been named the BMW 8FMOSRD-90, people would still buy it.
This sporty coupe has quite a reputation to uphold, especially after the dazzling 335i. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten stared down by a 335i driving by, though, some friendly honks and grins too.
For those that cannot wait for the M4, you will be glad to hear that the M-Sport package comes standard on the 435i, and gives you the typical M makeover. An aggressive front and rear apron, a leather three-spoked steering wheel, an exclusive Estoril Blue metallic paint, and M-badging found everywhere from the shifter knob to the foot-rests.
With a starting MSRP of $55,600, it is cheaper than the Audi S5 and the Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe 4MATIC, but also less powerful. Can the 435i brainwash the 4-ringed and three-pointed star customers?
Nothing new under the bonnet. Lodged inside is BMW's inline-six TwinPower Turbo that produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, letting the 435i sprint from 0-100 km/h in a speedy 5.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the old 2012 BMW 335i xDrive.
Turbo-lag is not a term the 435i is familiar with, and the exhausts give an addictive blurble when releasing the gas pedal in first gear. Realistically, the inline-six engine has more performance than any daily commuter will ever need. Though, it is always reassuring to have a cheetah ready to be unleashed with a flick of your right foot.
If you are to take anything out of this review, just know this: If you are going to buy a BMW, get a manual. BMW manual transmissions are one of the smoothest and most pleasurable transmissions in the automotive industry. A light clutch pedal, a short shifter, and a overflow of torque, you'll have to try pretty hard to stall this engine. It may be slower than the 8-speed automatic from 0-100 km/h, but nothing can replace the rewarding and tactile feeling of down-shifting and rev-matching.
There were even rumours that the new 2015 M3/M4 would not be offered with a manual transmission. Good news, it was just a nightmare. BMW has officially announced a manual tranny for the future M3/M4. Too bad we can't say the same for the Porsche 911 GT3.
The new 2014 BMW vehicles come equipped with a feature known as Auto Start-Stop to reduce fuel consumption. It turns off the engine every time the vehicle comes to a complete halt, eg. a traffic light. However, this function is extremely aggravating in manual transmission cars, such as our 435i. Picture this: you are approaching a red light and slip the gear into neutral, slowing down, then fully braked. The engine suddenly shuts off. The first thing that comes to mind? "Shoot, my engine has stalled", and panic ensues, until you realize it was just the Auto Start-Stop feature. Fortunately there is a button to turn this function off, and unlike previous BMWs, it will stay off even if you restart the car. Note that if you switch into ECO PRO mode, it will turn on again.
It just so happens that a friend of mine leased a nearly identical 435i xDrive, mind the automatic transmission, Mineral Gray metallic exterior, and a beautiful Coral Red interior. Paint one in Estoril Blue however, and it transforms the 435i into the closest thing we have to an M4 at the moment. Get used to pedestrian head-turning and double-takes. Might want to hide your face too, the 435i can be quite a camera hogger. Note that an Estoril Blue exterior and Coral Red interior sounds nice in theory, but ends up looking like Superman on wheels.
You might notice that our test vehicle is riding on 18-inch 335i rims, and if you did your homework, the 435i is only optioned with 19-inch rims. We got cheaped out, perhaps the previous tester dinged up the rims and needed to be replaced. Fortunately it still looks good - refer to the Mineral Gray 435i for the actual 19-inch rims you can expect.
The 435i gets the generic BMW dashboard and center console, but comes equipped with a three-spoke M steering wheel that looks and feels wonderful. Much better than the armour-shield steering wheel found in the 428i, too bulky.
Contrary to other coupes, it won't take a gymnast to slip into the rear seats. There is a considerable amount of legroom in the 435i, buckets more than an S5 or C350 Coupe. However, headroom can become a bit of a problem, especially if you are towering over six-feet.
With automakers upgrading their instrument clusters to digital displays, hats off to BMW for keeping the mechanical analog gauges - reliable and gratifying pieces of art. The gauge displays will even show a gear-shift indicator that informs the driver of the optimal gear they should be in, and when to upshift/downshift depending on the speed.
The all-too familiar iDrive interface makes its way into the 435i, and with its minimal learning curve, matched with fluid and lag-free controls, it makes as one of the best infotainment systems around. Though, the lack of a touch-screen surface feels somewhat old-fashioned for 2014. iDrive has the ability to display sport gauges with real-time horsepower and torque. An odd thing we noticed is that the gauges limit at 320 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque... but the 435i only has 300 of each, hence you'll never get to the limit. Why that extra 20? False hope?
A heads-up display is also available as part of the $2500 Executive Package, and showcases not only the speed, but also your radio stations and CD playlists. We connected our iPhones via Bluetooth and tested out the booming Harmon/Kardon speakers. We found that when switching through playlists, the heads-up display will fail to adjust and retain the old playlist. Just a little buggy.
If you have sat in a 2013 BMW, you might notice that the 2014 models have a larger iDrive control knob. This is because it serves not only for tactile clicks and scrolls, but also as a touch-pad. It comes in handy when entering addresses into the navigation screen, or when browsing the Internet via the $850 Connected Drive Package. It works with touch-sensitive gloves as well!
If you equipped the $4900 Premium Package, it will come with a hands-free trunk opening system. Keep your key fob in your pocket, and swipe your foot underneath the rear bumper, and watch the trunk magically open. Useful when both hands are occupied by groceries. However, there were many times where the trunk would not open. We swiped our foot around the entire rear bumper to no avail, and theorized the sensors might have been blocked by mud and snow.
Whether you need the inline-six engine or not is debatable. A more fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine is nested in the 428i xDrive, and costs $6600 less, and if you prefer a tail-happy rear-wheel-drive coupe, you can save $10,000 and get the 428i instead. In our minds, the 435i represents the ladder to perfection, and we will never be content with it - because we know the M4 is coming, and we simply cannot wait to see what BMW has in store for that.
型号 Model: 2014 BMW 435i xDrive
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $55,600
Price as Tested: $64,650
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2809
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4638 / 1826 / 1361
引擎 Engine: Twin-scroll turbocharged inline-six cylinder engine
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 300 / 5800-6000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 300 / 1300-5000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 10.5 / 7.0 / 8.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 225/45 R18 (Yes, they were supposed to be 19s..)