Unlike past new car purchases where it was a “is it time for a new car or not?”, I knew my lease end on my 2016 BMW 228i xDrive was approaching in July. Although I could always drive the GLK if I didn’t have something by then, let’s be honest, I’m always thinking about my next car and more or less had my mind made up for this next COAL long ago.
When you find a brand whose qualities you love, one that feels so natural, and one you’re deeply passionate about, you stick with it. After exploring the alternatives, I decided to stick with my beloved BMW and special order a very high-spec 2019 330i xDrive with the intent it would arrive right around the time my lease was up… until I saw this…
As it turns out, the lease on my $57K 330i build was going to be just a bit more than I expected even with my former dealer of work selling it to me below invoice, and to be completely honest, I still had doubts about becoming a 3 Series driver. The new 3 does everything it’s expected to nearly perfectly, don’t get me wrong. Yet there still was something about that car that seemed a bit too mature and grown up for my tastes, and I was struggling to find that emotional connection to it that I had for my 2 Series. I desperately wanted another coupe, and it just so happens I came across this 2019 430i xDrive coupe with M Sport, adaptive M suspension, and Coral Red Dakota Leather!
Isn’t a 4 Series more expensive to lease you might ask? Indeed a brand new one is, but for those who aren’t aware, former service loaners with just a few thousand miles and a few months of use can be leased, and will always lease out for significantly less than they were brand new. In this case, I was getting a nearly new 2019 430 with 4,400 miles on it for over $12K off its $56K MSRP.
At $499/month including tax, it was going to be almost $150 less per month than the 330 lease would have been, and only $100 more than what I was paying for my 228 ($399/month) – a car that was much less expensive to begin with and one that was a Center Employee Lease I had put much more money down on plus multiple security deposits. In fact I simply took my multiple security deposits from that lease and applied it as my cap cost reduction (down payment) for this lease, so I really wasn’t paying any new money out of pocket towards this 430 lease. Free from paying $300 for my half of the 540’s lease every month, I am saving $200 each month on car payment(s) from here on out. To make a long story short, this 430 was just a better value than the new 330 and it was a car I instantly found that emotional connection to!
Sure, the 4 Series, now in its sixth model year, is beginning to show its age, especially with newer G Series cars like the 3 Series, 5 Series, X3/X4, X5, and X7 all in showrooms next to it. Nevertheless, while it may lack their more sophisticated interiors and technology, the F32 4 Series makes up in its joyous driving experience, outgoing personality, and seductive styling.
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to sample the 4 Series in every engine and each of its three body styles offered, and regardless of flavor, it’s always been one of my favorite modern cars to drive. Versus cars like the new 2019 3 Series, which feel more serious and controlled, the 4 Series chassis has a lot more play to it, something aided by wide track, low center of gravity, long wheelbase, and near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
BMWs of course have always been best known for their handling characteristics over just sheer power, and this 4 Series upholds that reputation. Steering from its thick Nappa leather-wrapped M Sport steering wheel is delightfully heavy, providing generous feedback for in-tune and confident maneuvering. I’ve driven plenty of 4 Series with the standard suspension, which is more than adequate, but my car features the optional adaptive M suspension. Adding air cushioning on the rear axle and Dynamic Damper Control, which automatically adjusts each damper in real time, it incredibly transforms the 430 from feeling sporty to pretty darn close to an M car, minus the extra power.
In terms of power, however, the 430i’s 2.0-liter twinpower turbo I4’s posted 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque delivers delightfully impressive acceleration and cruising speed, not to mention symphonically forte engine and exhaust notes. Seriously, from the driver’s seat it feels just as quick as BMW’s inline-6 440, but with more high-revving fun. Furthermore, to be completely honest, I actually prefer these rev-happy BMW turbo-I4 engines over their more effortless turbo-I6 counterparts.
Despite making 7 less horsepower and 37 fewer lb-ft torque than in the 2019 330, the 430’s peak horsepower and torque come in at higher RPMs, and its 8-speed Steptronic is geared to higher ratios. This all makes for a very rev-happy and entertaining driving experience, and a 0.1 second advantage in its 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds (RWD/AWD 430 vs RWD 330; the AWD 330 has a 0.2 second advantage).
In more ways than one, the 4 Series feels a lot like the 2 Series I’m coming out of, and that’s an incredibly good thing. Two things I tremendously like about BMW interiors are their consistency and user-friendliness. Everything is in easy reach and clear view, with multiple ways of executing most basic functions depending on the driver’s preference.
Critics often pan BMW for lack of exciting interiors and relatively little variance of interior design between models versus more highly-styled interiors of competitors such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Yet personally, I favor function over form when it comes to my car interior. Good ergonomics, logical controls, and ease of use are more important than sheer style, and I’ve always loved that I can get into any BMW, from X1 to 8 Series, and instantly know how to use everything. There’s definitely something to be said about familiarity.
Familiarity is a major reason why I’m so happy with my choice in the 4 Series coupe. It’s everything that I had and loved in my 2 Series coupe, with a few more features and a whole lot more substance. Despite its age, the 4 Series’ design has held up incredibly well. The 2 Series is a great looking car, but proportionally, it’s roofline is a bit tall and its rear quite narrow (excluding the M2 of course).
The 4 Series, meanwhile, is longer, lower, and wider, especially at the rear where its hips are particularly voluptuous. With more sheet metal to sculpt, designers were able to give it a more athletic look than its 3 Series sedan counterpart and baby brother 2 Series coupe. Visually, the M Sport package on my car adds more aggressive side skirts and front/rear bumpers with extended lower trim for a more muscular and overall more complete look. Seriously, that ass though 🙂
Feature-wise, the 4 Series already comes quite generously equipped in standard spec, and my 430 adds a few extra options. Items such as navigation, LED headlights and taillights, 10-way power adjustable heated front seats with manual thigh cushion adjustment, comfort access keyless entry, blind spot monitoring, and rain sensing wipers are all standard. Very thoughtfully added arms push the front seat belts forward when you get in for easier reach. Mine of course also has the M Sport package with the aforementioned exterior enhancements, plus different wheels and that extra thick M Sport steering wheel that alone is enough to make me want to add M Sport to any BMW.
My 430 also adds the requisite for New England heated steering wheel, plus head-up display. Had I ordered this car, I would have forgone head-up display for the 16-speaker Harman-Kardon surround sound. After a few days of driving though, I’ve concluded that the standard 9-speaker sound system (which still uses H-K speakers) actually bumps pretty damn fine, and I’ve come to appreciate head-up display more so than in the 540. Just like in the 228, my ideal seating/steering wheel position obscures the top of the speedometer from my sight lines, so if anything, it is beneficial to see my exact speed projected onto the windshield.
All in all, I know in my heart that I made the right choice this 2019 BMW 430i xDrive, whom I’ve already named Brigitte. Less than two weeks in, I can’t express how much I’m already in love with her! The steering is so heavy, the suspension so taut… it’s given me a whole new level of driving enjoyment! It wasn’t the car I expected to replace Heidi, my 2016 228i xDrive with, but when the right car comes along, you just know!
Apart from the very last, Photographed at Hingham Harbor in Hingham, Massachusetts – May 2019