2015 BMW 4 Series

What's new for 2015? For 2015, the BMW 4 Series gets subtle changes to standard and optional equipment. Most notably, Bluetooth audio connectivity is now standard across the model line and heated front seats may be ordered as a stand-alone option.

Spawned a year ago from the ever-impressive 3 Series sedan, the BMW 4 Series coupe and convertible maintain a tradition of driving excellence. The 4 Series is costlier than the 3 -- almost four grand when new -- yet you get two fewer doors, largely analogous equipment and less practicality. Still, we feel the 2015 BMW 4 Series, with its more distinguishing presence, justifies its premium and fortifies BMW's position as a creator of exceptionally desirable luxury coupes and convertibles.

This BMW's low-slung, low-cabin stance is accentuated by flared fenders and a character line rising from the front fender to the rear taillights. The specs back up this visual impression: The 4 Series is about 2 inches lower to the ground than the sedan, and its wheels are pushed farther outward for improved handling stability and grip. Special styling details, such as vents in the front bumper fascia and in the fender just aft of the front wheels (BMW claims they improve aero efficiency) further differentiate the 4 Series.

The 4 Series, with its excellent handling and performance, eye-catching styling and best-in-class interior room, strikes us as the most complete and desirable luxury sport coupe and convertible available this year.

Exterior Highlights
Available as a two-door coupe and a retractable-hardtop convertible. Available in 428i and 435i trim levels

The 2015 BMW 4 Series is available as a two-door coupe and a retractable-hardtop convertible. There are two trim levels: 428i and 435i.

Standard equipment for the 428i includes 17-inch wheels; adaptive xenon headlights; foglights; remote entry and push-button start; auto-dimming mirrors; a sunroof; leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery; eight-way power front seats (with two-way power lumbar); driver memory settings; a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; fold-down rear seats; dual-zone automatic climate control; a 6.5-inch display screen; BMW's iDrive electronics interface; BMW Assist; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a nine-speaker audio system with a USB/iPod interface, an auxiliary audio jack, HD radio and a CD player. In place of the sunroof, the 428i convertible has an automatic power-retractable hardtop with a wind blocker. Interestingly, the convertible includes folding rear seats -- a feature rarely seen in drop tops.

The 435i is equipped similarly but comes with a more powerful engine and 18-inch wheels.

Naturally, a wealth of options is available to help you customize your 4 Series. The Premium package equips the 4 Series with keyless ignition and entry (including a foot-activated trunk opening), four-way power lumbar for the front seats, satellite radio and leather upholstery. The Technology package adds a voice-controlled navigation system, a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display screen, a touchpad iDrive controller, a color head-up display, BMW Online with MyInfo (provides news and info to the car), BMW Apps (connectivity for select smartphone apps) and BMW Remote Services (allows select mobile devices to lock the car remotely, turn on the climate control and includes a stolen vehicle recovery service).

The Lighting package tacks on adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam control. A Cold Weather package adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and, for the convertible, front seat-mounted neck-warming air vents. The Driver Assistance package adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. Opting for the Driver Assistance Plus package gets you those features plus blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a side- and top-view camera system, speed limit info, frontal-collision warning and automatic braking for collision mitigation. Finally, the Dynamic Handling package furthers the 4 Series' capabilities with adaptive suspension dampers and automatic variable-ratio sport steering.

There are many stand-alone options as well. These include a live-operator concierge service, automated parallel-parking assist, upgraded brakes, a leather dashboard, a power rear sunshade, adaptive cruise control and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.

Additionally, there are three optional equipment lines: Luxury (requires Premium package), Sport and M Sport. Each includes different wheel designs (up to 19 inches), various color schemes and unique trim and upholstery types. The Sport and M Sport also include M Sport suspension tuning, summer performance tires and 10-way sport front seats, while the M Sport further adds aerodynamic exterior trim and a sport steering wheel.

Classy design, basic 6.5-inch display screen interface, very supportive front seats, impressive amount of legroom, generous luggage space

The 4 Series might be a new model designation, but the cabin is all 3 Series, with a classy design and premium materials. The company's classic analog gauges provide a historical link with BMWs of previous decades, while the Luxury, Sport and M Sport give you plenty of leeway to customize the cabin to your taste.

In terms of technology, the basic 6.5-inch display screen is adequate, but you'll want to get the larger, optional screen for a true luxury-electronics interface. Overall, iDrive is pretty easy to use, thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times.

A lower seating position than in the sedan helps add to the sporting persona of the BMW 4 Series. Even the standard front seats are very supportive and comfortable, and good both for long road trips and spirited driving. There's also an impressive amount of legroom, and enough headroom for average-sized adults in back. Luggage space is generous, even in the convertible. Lowering the convertible's top takes about 20 seconds.

Every 2015 BMW 4 Series comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and rollover protection (convertible). Simulated panic stops from 60 mph at our test track demonstrated excellent capabilities, with stops between 110 and 113 feet for the coupe on summer tires and with the optional M Sport brakes.

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