• Made world debut at Frankfurt show: on sale in UK 5 October
  • Longer and lower than 3 series coupé it replaces
  • Six engines for UK, xDrive all-wheel-drive on three versions
  • CO2 emissions start at 121g/km
  • Five trim levels  SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport - with equipment upgrades over outgoing model; usual vast BMW options list
Hang on to your licence: latest BMW coupe just begs to be driven fast; is larger and better equipped than predecessor

Hang on to your licence: latest BMW coupe just begs to be driven fast; is larger and better equipped than predecessor

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BMW (UK) officials at the UK press launch had obviously heard the question repeatedly since announcing the new 4 series coupe line a few months ago, ahead of its Frankfurt show global debut early in September.

'Why is the replacement for the long-running 3 series coupe now called the 4?' Answer: It's bigger, has a sportier design than the 3 series saloon and Touring, and more standard equipment, and now justifies its own model designation in the same way the 6 series coupe/cabriolet line is distinguished from the 7 series saloon.

Whatever. The 4 series coupe, as a 3 derivative, has strong form. It dates right back to the 1970s first generation, E21 series and the outgoing E92 line has sold almost 50,000 units here in the UK alone over its seven year life cycle.

Like its predecessor - a fabric-roof convertible in place of the folding metal outgoing coupe-cabriolet is expected soon - the 4 series will be a global model with only detail changes according to regional taste.

The US - always a happy hunting ground for an automaker with a 'personal coupe' to sell -  is expected to be the 4's largest with 33% of sales. Next comes Europe minus Germany with 17%, the UK, accounting for around 46,000 units over the next seven years or so, at 14% and Germany, 10%. China will take 3%, Japan 2% and the rest of the world - ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand, India, etc - 16%.

Never an automaker to miss a market trend - or niche - BMW (UK) appears to be benefiting from the UK's recent spate of colder, snowier winters. Out to steal more sales from Audi, it had recently begun offering more models with four wheel drive - branded xDrive - and claimed one in 10 3 series saloons sold so far this year have been so fitted. It also claimed the model has been outselling Audi's A4 quattro Saloon by almost two to one.

Unsurprisingly, what we might term the UK's 'snowbelt' regions - Scotland and Northern Ireland - have together accounted for 17% of total xDrive sales compared to 7% of overall sales.

The new car has a 50mm longer wheelbase within an overall length increase of 26mm over the outgoing 3 coupe. It is 43mm wider, with track widths expanded by 45mm at the front and 81mm at the rear. For the first time in a midsized BMW coupé, the rear wheel arches are the widest point of the car. The roofline is 16mm lower and is 10mm lower than the 3 saloon, bringing its centre of gravity down to below 500mm – the lowest level of any current BMW.

Xenon headlights are standard while adaptive headlights and – for the first time in this segment – adaptive LED headlights are optional.

Springs, dampers, camber angle and the responses of both axles have been uniquely tuned for the coupe. The front section is also 60% stiffer than the 3 coupé and Servotronic steering is standard.

Electronic driver aids integrated into the dynamic stability control (DSC) system include anti-lock braking, automatic stability control, dynamic traction control, dynamic brake control and cornering brake control along with hill start assistant and an electronic limited slip function for the rear differential, which can be activated using the ‘DSC Off’ button. A brake pad wear indicator and brake drying are standard on all models.

Drive Performance Control is standard on all models enabling the driver to choose between ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and (in conjunction with Sport or M Sport trim levels, or with some options) Sport+ modes. Each of these activates different settings for the relevant powertrain - comfort has a much slower responding accelrator pedal while Sport+ sees the car respond to a twitch of your big toe while the ride firms up noticeably. A further button allows the driver to change the DSC settings or switch them off altogether.

BMW (UK) is launching the 4 in October with three 'TwinPower Turbo' engines with three more to come within a month of launch. The optional eight-speed Sport automatic transmission will become available at the same time (it will be standard on the 430d and 435d xDrive) while xDrive will also be with the 420d and 420i.

Every engine already meets the EU6 emissions regulations, not due to become law for over a year yet. The launch engines are the two litre I4 428i petrol and 420d turbo diesel and the three litre I6 435i - all have direct injection. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard.

The optional eight-speed auto will include a Launch Control function and manual shifting via steering wheel-mounted paddles. In every case, as is common these days, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are lower for the automatic models – down to only 121g/km in the case of the 420d.

The three additional engines available from November production are the 184hp I4 two litre 420i and two three litre I6 diesels – the 258hp 430d and the most powerful model, the 313hp 435d xDrive. Both I6s have standard automatic and the 435d adds the xDrive intelligent all wheel drive system.

UK specification is up compared with the outgoing 3 coupé and includes front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, Servotronic steering, a sport multi-function leather steering wheel and xenon headlights. DAB (digital) radio, Dakota leather upholstery, two-zone air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, USB, Comfort Go, Drive Performance Control, iDrive Controller, 6.5 inch colour screen and automatic lights, wipers and boot opening are all included. All models except the starter 420i and 420d also have electric front seats and the 430d, 435d xDrive and 435i have metallic paint standard, too.

As with the new 5 line, UK customers can also choose from four additional trim packs.

Sport (+GBP1,500 over SE) adds high-gloss black exterior detailing, 18 inch alloy wheels, a wraparound window strip and a trim strip at rear apron height. Inside, there are contrasting black and red accents and leather sport seats.

The Modern (also +GBP1,500 over SE) adds matt chrome exterior details, 18 inch turbine-style alloy wheels, optional two-tone interior trim, leather upholstery in black or oyster and a choice of four trim surfaces with accent strips in pearl chrome.

Luxury (+GBP2,500 over SE) adds gloss chrome exterior highlights, 18 inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tailpipe embellisher and chrome cabin highlights. High gloss wood strips, leather seats with an exclusive double stitching pattern and the Business Media package (including navigation, emergency call and TeleServices remote diagnostic system) are standard.

M Sport (+GBP3,000) adds a body aerodynamics package, 'Shadowline' exterior trim, 18-inch M Star spoke alloy wheels, M door sill finishers, a unique three spoke leather steering wheel, aluminium trim and leather sport seats and the business media package. M Sport suspension is standard while brakes with callipers in contrasting blue paint finish and adaptive suspension with electronic variable damping are optional.

As usual with BMWs, there is also a vast options list including head-up display, park assist, active cruise control with start-stop and keyless entry.

UK pricing starts from GBP31,575 OTR for a 420d SE. In its first full year BMW UK expects to sell around 9,000 of the new coupés.