Closer look at BMW's 4 Series conceptComment on this story
Closer look at BMW's 4 Series concept
Now that, like Jodie Foster, the BMW 4 Series Concept is officially 'out', let's take a closer look at the Blue Propeller's sporty new coupé and its relationship to the 3 Series on which it's based.
To start with, it's bigger than the 3 Series, not smaller, as you would imagine; its wheelbase is 50mm longer, front track 44mm wider and rear track 80mm wider. At 4641mm overall, the concept is distinctly longer and it's 44mm wider at 1826mm.
Its roofline, however, is 16mm lower, which fits the car's sporty persona.
Genealogically speaking, the 4 Series is actually the fourth generation of the 3 Series Coupé, but BMW has chosen to make it a stand-alone design to enhance its sporty appeal - not least, we suspect, in answer to some very sexy two-door models from both Mercedes-Benz and Audi, which owe little, style-wise, to the sedans whose platforms they share.
The 4 Series is intended to share the exclusive upmarket glow that bathes its 6 and 8 Series siblings, firstly through classic coupé proportions - long bonnet, rear-set glazed area, short rear deck and short overhangs, particularly in front.
Most front-engined cars - including the 3 Series - are wider in front than at the rear, but the 4 Series' widest point is across the rear wheel-arches, a distinction it shares with Jennifer Lopez and the Shelby Cobra.
In contrast to the current trend towards colour-coding the detail work, functional elements such as air intakes and vents, door handles and mirrors housings are satin-finished aluminium.
The kidney grille is closed off to improve aerodynamics, with unobtrusive dark surfaces between the satin-finish grille slats, while the full-LED headlights are a high-tech hexagonal interpretation of BMW's signature dual circular design.
An optic fibre leads out from the inner headlight tube and forms a visual link between the inner headlight and the kidney grille, making the 4 Series look even wider from the front.
But the most eye-catching feature of the front treatment is the gaping three-part air intake in the front apron, its wide opening - emphasised by three strikingly sculptured, satin-finish aluminium trim elements - hinting at the extra air required by the powerful engine.
The concept's profile is dominated by a long, straight shoulder, below a gently slopping roofline - the 4 Series is very nearly a fastback - and an elegantly drawn C pillar.
The vent behind the front wheel works in tandem with the front spoiler reduce drag around the front wheels, while special 20” multi-spoke rims add some extra street cred.
Strong horizontal lines emphasise the wide rear track (no more J-LO analogies here) with L-shaped tail-light clusters blending into the contours of the boot-lid and rear wings.
The concept's cabin was styled with the help of BMW's Individual customising division, wrapped around the driver in typically BMW fashion. All the lines sweep back to the rear, while clearly defined surfaces around the window sills and door trim panels connect the front and rear compartments.
Strong contouring on the rear bench seats makes it look like two individual seats joined together.
The environmentally friendly tanning process used for the black and brown two-tone leather trim gives it a soft, welcoming texture, while light contrast stitching visually firms up the seams, and hand-braided trim elements run vertically down the seats, as well as around the cup holders and floor mats.
Chestnut veneer wood trim adds the finishing touch.
ENOUGH SHOW - WHAT ABOUT THE GO?
BMW's Detroit media material says nothing about engine options, but it's safe to assume that most if not all the engines available in the new 3 Series will find their way into the production versions of Fabulous Four, starting with two-litre 420i and 425i models, 420d and 430d diesels, plus of course, a 435i with BMW's iconic 225kW turbocharged three-litre straight six.
And, in the fullness of time, there will be an M4; if the rumours buzzing around the cybergarage are to be believed, it's likely to have a new six-cylinder engine of either three or 3.3-litre capacity and two turbochargers, plus a small, electrically-driven supercharger to boost bottom-end response, and deliver about 330kW, compared to the 309kW of the current V8 M3.