If you’re in that terrible position – you’ve got a hundred grand in used, unmarked, non-sequential bills, and you need to dispose of it hurriedly … perhaps the BMW 430i could help you out with that.
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The grille could be a confidence trick, right? Like, the Emperor’s New Grille. Perhaps it’s a mass psychology experiment, designed to test the limits of human attraction.
Anyway – that 430i is an awesome car to drive – in part because it exists in that rare sweet spot between being too hard-edged and performance-oriented to live with daily, and too soft and luxurious to have a real crack in, occasionally.
You can really throw it around. It’s extremely balanced and responsive, but it doesn’t feel like 12 rounds with Madam Lash when you’re just getting from A to B in traffic with everyone else. So, that’s nice.
Just to detain you with the range, and decompiling its DNA: The base model 420i is about $70k, plus on-roads. It’s $19,000-ish more for the 430i that I spent a week test-driving. And it’s another $28k to step up from the 430 to the range topping M 440i xDrive.
Don’t get me wrong here: The 420i is not ‘poverty’ – all 4 Series vehicles get an M Sport body kit and 19-inch alloys. There’s a wireless charging pad for your phone, and faux leather plus alcantara in the 420. 12.3-inch flatscreen instrument cluster. 10.5-inch multimedia screen – nicely integrated – plus voice commands and wireless Apple and Android phone apps.
However, the powertrain in the 420i … while it’s essentially the same as the 430i, inasmuch as it’s a 2.0-litre turbo four, with an eight-speed auto and rear drive … the engine in the 420 is significantly de-tuned.
It’s pumping out just 135kW and 300Nm, which is good for about 7.5 seconds to 100 – not totally disgraceful, but just for perspective, the dude next to you at a red light, in his Kia Cerato GT, costing half as much … he’s gunna carve you up.
This frown of 420i straight-line mediocrity is of course turned completely upside-down in the 430i, which ups the performance ante to 190kW and 400Nm. Meaning, you’ll definitely consign Cerato-boy to the rear-view mirror if push comes to shove.
With the 430i you also get a clever adaptive damper system, keyless entry, a surround view camera system, and adaptive cruise control.
And of course if you have cash to burn, the M 440i xDrive is quite nice indeed. You get sunroof, premium audio … stuff like that. You also get (standard) those miraculous Laser headlamps.
With the 440i, you also get xDrive, which is BMW-speak for all-wheel drive. It’s hugely rear-drive biased, in line with BMW’s core sporty driving ethos, but I guess the big trick there is its latent ability to engage the front drive to drag you the hell out of a bend if you drive one day as if late for an important job interview after knocking over a bank…
Of course, a certifiably insane M4 is also in the wings, and it’s hard not to cherish the underlying excess at the core of every M car.
Incidentally, the M 440i xDrive gets a straight six with 285 kW and 500 Nm – and if there’s one thing BMW has done brilliantly since approximately the age of the dinosaurs, it’s straight sixes.