Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

Update 1: Welcome

James Dennison has a new long-termer. A BMW 4 Series in 420i M Sport spec, its styling has already caused a stir. But what of the car underneath? Will it be better to live with than an Audi A5 Coupe or Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe? Let’s find out…

BMW 4 Series Arctic Race Blue Metallic

Introducing my latest long-term steed, a striking Arctic Race Blue metallic BMW 4 Series. And, when I say striking, I mean it, because much of the chatter around this car since the first official pics were seen a few months back, has focused on that grille. Large and decidedly unsubtle it’s split opinion right down the middle. Some think it works, others are violently against its very existence – ‘an affront to the BMW badge’ is a phrase I’ve heard a number of times. 

However, at the end of the day, an object’s looks are, by definition, highly subjective. What really matters with this car – and indeed any – are what’s under the skin. And I fear that in all the furore over its appearance, this may have been lost somewhat.

BMW 4 Series grille

So, in order to try and rectify this I have six months to find out what the G22-generation 4 Series is hiding under that controversial body and figure out whether it’s a better car than chief rivals such as the Audi A5 Coupe, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and Lexus RC. But, before I get properly stuck in, here’s a rundown of exactly what I’m working with.

The spec – BMW 420i M Sport

The car in question is a 420i M Sport model. It’s expected to be the biggest selling variant of the 4 Series range and it’s not hard to see why. Early impressions suggest that the 184hp 2.0-litre petrol does an excellent job of replacing the previously popular (and now very much out-of-vogue) 2.0-litre diesel. Smooth and torquey enough (300Nm from 1,350rpm), it returned a highly respectable 49.2mpg on the 100-mile drive home from picking the car up – far greater than the claimed 42.2-44.1mpg figure.

BMW 4 Series interior

It’s also worth noting that this car is absolutely loaded with kit and has a hefty £48,925 list price (more on that later). So, as well as the reasonable M Sport standard equipment, it’s got the Adaptive M suspension with sport and comfort modes. How this will impact the overall drive of the car (especially on the pretty but large 19-inch alloy wheels) is what I’m bristling to find out. Rear-wheel drive is standard on this model, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission – no more manuals on this generation of 4 Series (at least in the UK).

Huge equipment list

Trawling through the brochure, it’s initially hard to find an option that this 420i doesn’t have. As far as I can tell, the only tech missing is the Visibility Package, featuring BMW Laserlights and high-beam assistant. Now, interestingly, the latter is technically on the vehicle (it’s standard on M Sport cars) yet BMW doesn’t activate it from standard. Instead, you need to purchase it, either as part of the Visibility Package or using the MMI. Opportunist on a car with a £40k starting price?

BMW Parking Assistant Plus

Equipment that is fitted and activated, however, includes the M Sport package Pro, Technology Plus Pack, Comfort Plus Pack and individual piano black interior trim. All features that we’ll be sure to explore in future updates and, crucially, let you know if they’re worth paying the extra money for.

Until then, don’t forget to tweet me @JDennisonCars (or email james.dennison@parkers.co.uk) with any questions you have about the new 4 Series and what it’s like to live with.

*Apologies for the dirty car – finding a car wash that's open isn't easy at the present time!

Starting mileage: 731 miles

Claimed fuel economy: 40.6-44.4mpg