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By Jonathan Crouch
Added 21st July, 2017
, updated 2nd March, 2018
So is this BMW 4 Series the coupe that does it all, the class benchmark from its era, the go-to choice in its segment? The answer's probably yes. Overall, there's a sustained level of excellence shot throughout this car that Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class Coupe rivals can't quite match, something especially evident when it comes to handling dynamics. There's a levity about this 4 Series, a certain joy you get in driving it that the others can't quite match. Great then, that it does all the sensible stuff really well too. You get impressive safety systems, a big boot, plenty of rear legroom, excellent day to day running costs and residual values that are markedly superior to this model's two key rivals. Which all helps your conscience. Why? Because this is a car that, exactly because of those attributes, you can buy and use - and use hard - without that nagging sense of guilt that you may have over-indulged yourself.
Can it be criticised? Perhaps. Some have found it a rather overly mature proposition, but these we think are people who would be better suited by Toyota GT86-style coupes more aimed at hot hatch folk - an approach that wouldn't really work with the target demographic here. Otherwise, assuming you can afford the asking price, just about the only thing that's perhaps open to complaint is that the interior isn't quite as exciting as maybe it ought to be. But a carefully specified version of this 4 Series can still be pretty special in that respect. What's not up for debate is that here, BMW built decisively the best car in its class.
Other car makers create a premium compact hatchback by merely prettying up the ingredients of an existing cheap one. BMW's 1 Series was different in its first two generations of life, with rear wheel drive giving this car a distinctive selling point. It certainly still looks unique too in this F20/F21 MK2 model form. Perhaps that's why 70% of its buyers tended to be new to the BMW brand. Those liking a style in this form easier to get on with and not needing to regularly transport rear seat passengers were understandably regularly seduced by its uncorrupted steering, great chassis balance and brilliant efficiency.
Of course, many of this model's more subtle attributes will probably be lost on a clientele drawn chiefly to its badge. Still, whatever your motivation for purchase, go for one of these and that warm and fuzzy feeling that accompanies making a smart decision is never too far away.
BMW's 8 Series Convertible is a big step forward from its predecessor, thinks Jonathan Crouch
This X3 has come of age in third generation guise. If it struggles to match the profitability of its predecessor, then that'll be because competition in the premium mid-sized SUV sector is so much tougher these days. This model is, after all, an immeasurable improvement over the MK2 version in every possible way. Even the best of this car's prestige rivals can't match this one's hugely impressive blend of handling and efficiency. It feels up-market, it rides impressively and, thank goodness, on-tarmac, it drives just as a BMW should.
All of which means that buyers in this sector who can afford the asking price should find that this X3 adds up very nicely indeed. Assuming that they don't prioritise off road ability of course: few will. A vehicle this good ought to speak for itself. Try one and we think you'll find that it does.
BMW's controversial coupe-shaped SUV becomes more desirable in third generation guise. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
The third generation 1 Series is at its best in base three cylinder 118i petrol form, reckons Jonathan Crouch.
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