Auto review: Sassy 2014 BMW 428i coupe flips its digit – Indianapolis Star

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014

Since the iconic BMW 2002 evolved into the 3-Series nearly 40 years ago, the little coupe has been the sassy prince of the Munich-based dynasty.

Small, sporty, refined and with just the right amount of attitude, the 3-Series coupe was the car you could both hope to afford and enjoy thrashing wide-open on the Autobahn or precisely slicing up narrow ribbons of dragon asphalt.

To set itself apart from 3-Series sedans, and to follow the naming logic of larger BMW coupes, the enthusiasts’ favorite flips its main digit to become the 4-Series.

More than clever marketing, the car changed enough to earn its advanced numeral. It has a much more aggressive stance, taking on the muscular brawniness of the bigger M6 but with more finessed bodylines.

A wider and longer wheelbase underlie initial impressions. Short overhangs, 18-inch M Sport alloys, faceted hood, deep bodyside lines, Hofmeister kink in the rear windowline, and a wider version of BMW’s iconic double-kidney grille make it clear who built this fab coupe — and hint at the power within.

The sweet way the hood edge slices above the headlamps blue brake calipers with M logo top the cake.

Slip your loafer into the base twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to kick out 240 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque — all routed to the ground through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. Paddle shifters allow drivers to get the most out of the direct-injected engine.

Gathering digits, the coupe thrusts from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds on the way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. If that doesn’t do it for you, opt for the available 300 horsepower 3.0-liter turbo-six. Just don’t expect to match the four-cylinder’s 22/33 mpg city/hwy.

To command all of that majestic majesty, you’ll have to slip into the tight little cabin.

As in most BMWs, the interior is a balance of serious driving environment and upscale luxury. I snuggled into our test car’s comfy heated sport seats with lower cushion extensions, curled all my digits around the grabilicious heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and gazed at the alloy dash trim. Big analog gauges, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic climate control make the car easy to drive.

The presenter arm for the seatbelt is a bit much and entrance to the rear seats is best left to elves. Fortunately, the trunk is pretty large for a sport coupe.

When put to pavement, the 4-Series raises fleshy flags to most competitors. The solid structure lets the stiff four-wheel independent suspension to seemingly feel the road by the inch and never feels bothered — especially with uber-grippy AWD managing power.

BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control with Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes modulate the throttle, steeringand suspension for vastly different personalities. Eco mode makes the throttle less sensitive to conserve fuel. Comfort balances handling with on-road relaxation. Sport mode tightens everything — the best choice for tearing up backroads.

No matter the road or weather, the 428i is a joy to drive.

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It’s not perfect. The blue (or optionally red) trim around the aluminum sheets on the dash looks cheap. Getting comfortable can be a challenge as the instrument cluster and steering wheel seem high relative to the seating position.

Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to pair a smartphone or use the iDrive infotainment system. It’s just complication for the sake of complication.

BMW earned its reputation for building “Ultimate Driving Machines” with the 2002, 3-Series and, now, the 4-Series. All of these cars offer an exquisite driving experience, reasonable utility, and the satisfaction of knowing your neighbors will be envious.

BMW’s idea of ergonomics is questionable, but if driving is believing, the 428i is the ultimate. Let journalists complain. Just flip them your bigger digit, stomp the throttle,and feed them green dust.

Storm Forward!

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2014 BMW 428i xDrive

Basics: Four-passenger, AWD coupe.

Powertrain: 240 hp 2.0-liter Turbo-4, eight-speed automatic transmission.

Suspension f/r: Electronic Ind/Ind.

Wheels: 18″/18″ alloy f/r.

Brakes: Disc/disc fr/rr.

Must-have features: Turbo power, sassy style.

0-60 mph: 5.7s.

Top speed: 155 mph

Fuel economy: 22/33 mpg city/hwy.

Assembly: Munich, Germany.

Base/As-tested price: $42,500/$50,775.


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