BMW Takes an 'If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It' Approach With the 4 Series

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bmw takes an if it ain t broke don t fix it approach with the 4 series

Going over the announcement of BMW’s updated 4 Series was reminiscent of my childhood attempts to parse out the difference between two nearly identical images in the monthly Double Check of my Highlights for Children magazine.

Beyond the M Sport styled front bumper and newly standardized LED headlights and taillights for each trim, there is nothing obvious about this mid-cycle refresh of the 4 Series. Most of the improvements are minimal and located below the surface, including the only one that really matters to driving enthusiasts — an improved standard suspension designed to encourage a neutral response at the limit and better feedback.

BMW’s 4 Series has garnered a fair bit of criticism from some reviewers over its handling characteristics and lackluster feedback. Responding, the company says the new standard suspension has been stiffened without destroying ride comfort and should offer reduced roll and better steering feedback. That applies to all cars, including those making use of the M Sport and Adaptive suspensions. The company is also offering higher-performance tires as a factory-installed option for the 430i and up.

Inside the cabin, a digital cockpit cluster and revised infotainment display are welcome improvements. The car comes with Apple CarPlay, serves as a WiFi hotspot, and now has inductive phone charging available in the armrest. BMW is calling the 4 Series “an all-compassing personalized digital mobility assistant” but it’s really just integrating features you have on your phone into the upgraded center console.

Expect new electroplated and chrome finishes for the interior trim, as well as double stitching details on the instrument panel. Outside, BMW has added model-specific wheels and two new colors: Snapper Rocks Blue and Sunset Orange (pictured).

It’s always nice to see a Beemer not in grayscale or navy.

While this information comes from European specification cars, you can safely assume North American versions will be nearly identical. The updated 4 Series should help to further differentiate itself from the 3 Series it owes its existence to, while keeping it competitive against the Audi A5 until its 2020 redesign.

[Images: BMW Group]

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2 of 18 comments
  • FreedMike FreedMike on Jan 19, 2017

    Nice looking...but in this segment my Choice Number One would be AMG C43 Benz. Mercedes should do something other than a four-banger in the base C-class models.

  • EX35 EX35 on Jan 19, 2017

    how about improve their steering so that it doesn't have the weight and feel of a Camry.

  • FreedMike Race car drivers are all alpha-types. Aggression is part of the deal. I think you see more of that stuff in NASCAR because crashes - the end result of said aggression - are far more survivable than they would be in F1 or IndyCar.
  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.