It's a breakup of a different sort.
BMW's newest two-door model has separated from its former 3 Series sedan counterpart, changed its name, undergone a major facelift and emerged as one of the more attractive models in the automaker's lineup.
The 4 Series represents part of BMW's master strategy of re-branding the coupe and convertible lineup using even-number nomenclature exclusively (2, 4 and 6), while the sedan range sticks with odd numbers (3, 5 and 7). For the 2015 model year the current 1 Series vehicles will be rebooted as 2 Series coupes and convertibles.
The newly christened 4 Series appears to have strayed only slightly from the previous 3 Series, but is a bit wider and longer. Compared to the 3 Series sedan, the roofline is lower by about two inches and ride height has been reduced by nearly half an inch. The fenders also bulge more than the sedan's, and the space between the front and rear axles has increased a bit. These changes lower the car's center of gravity and, along with a number of structural and suspension adjustments specific to the 4 Series, are aimed at providing a more sporting experience along with creating a sharper personal-luxury image.
Don't look for any dramatic changes when it comes to the 4 Series powertrains that are already in use in a number of BMWs. The 428i uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 241 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Moving up to the 435i puts you in control of a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. By BMW's stopwatch, the 428i will propel the coupe to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, while the stronger 435i gets it done in 5.3 seconds. To help conserve fuel, there's a standard stop/start function that shuts the engine off when the car is stopped, which saves fuel.
An eight-speed automatic is the base choice with either engine, but you can swap it out for a six-speed manual gearbox, should you be so inclined, without additional charge or discount.
You can also equip each edition with BMW's x-Drive all-wheel-drive option that's probably a wise move if you live in an area where winter is a fact of life.
From the driver and front passenger's perspective there's little to differentiate the 4 Series Coupe from its former sedan mate. The controls and switches are legible to a fault and convey a keen sense of quality.
Both front- and rear-seat riders (there's room for just two in the split-folding back seat) sit on standard Sensatec (faux leather) upholstery and have ample views out the generously sized front and side windows. That's in sharp contrast to cars such as the Audi TT coupe.
Selecting a base 428i will set you back $41,400 ($46,900 for the 435i) and includes premium items such as climate control with memory settings, power moonroof, eight-way power front seats, rain-sensing wipers and run-flat tires, which gets rid of a traditional spare.
However, that's just the warm-up. Each model can be upgraded with Luxury Line, Sport Line and M Sport trims, with the latter including an aerodynamic body kit, sporty 18-inch wheels (17-inchers are standard) and well-bolstered sport seats covered in premium leather.
Following those choices there are a number of available packages that feature items such as a navigation, sport suspension, heated front seats and steering wheel, automatic high beams, rearview camera and a head-up display that projects speed, fuel and direction info onto the windshield.
Historically, BMW purchasers have had no problem adding these and other extra-cost toppings (even selecting metallic paint is an extra-cost option) and that will likely hold true with the sleek and sassy 4 Series coupe and soon-to-follow hardtop convertible. After all, combining significant luxury, performance and style is what really makes sets these cars and their owners apart.
2014 BMW 4 SERIES
Type: Two-door, rear- /all-wheel-drive four-passenger coupe
Engines (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (241); 3.0-liter DOHC I6, turbocharged (300)
Transmissions: Eight-speed automatic; six-speed manual (opt.)
Market position: Luxury coupes like the 4 Series spark plenty of interest with buyers who enjoy driving performance-oriented automobiles. What they lack in practicality they commonly make up for in style and comfort.
Points: Conversion of coupe from 3 Series to 4 Series status includes more attractive design; Base four-cylinder engine focuses on fuel economy; 300-horsepower I6 offers significant performance upgrade; No M version in sight yet; Convertible with folding hardtop due out by early 2014; Loaded with extras, it gets kind of pricey.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; front-knee airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy): 23/35 (2.4)
Base price (incl. destination): $41,400
Base price: $39,900
Tasty AWD two-door offers I4, V6 and V8 power, the latter in 450-hp RS5.
Cadillac CTS coupe
Base price: $40,400
Possibly the last year for this cool two-door; CTS-V version makes 556 hp.
Base price: $39,100
Cool coupe model spans a wide power spectrum. New edition due for 2015.