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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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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.

  • Lorenzo It's an election year, and Biden will drag down enough democrats without the state going deeper in the budget hole than it is now. Newsom isn't the smartest guy, but he has smart guys to tell him the state is running out of other people's money.
  • MaintenanceCosts The symbol is the standard international sign for "controlled access highway." Presumably they are trying to evoke the Autobahn.
  • MaintenanceCosts Absolutely. Most old classics are not Boss 429s or Busso Alfas. Most of them have powertrains that are just crap by modern standards. I'd love to have a classic without the pre-emissions stinky exhaust or the need to futz around constantly with points and jets to maintain drivability.
  • Ravenuer No, I wouldn't be interested in doing this at all. Seems like it would be quite expensive.
  • Tassos Why buy either when you have two matching 2007 diesel e-classes with combined over 950k km. NO ONE SHOULD WANT MORE THAN I HAVE SETTLED FOR.