BMW's 3-Series Coupe becomes the 4-Series with production set for 2013
By Mike Hanlon
December 6, 2012
BMW's best selling 3-Series has for nearly four decades been the brand's introductory model – the first taste of a BMW for prospective aficionados. As the BMW range has grown, the larger 5-Series and 7-Series have found more sporty, more stylish and more upmarket coupe derivatives in the 6-Series and 8-Series respectively. Now, the pattern is set to continue with the 4-series, to be shown as a concept at the NAIAS (Detroit Motor Show) in January, but one already slated for production within 12 months.
BMW released an extensive photographic gallery of the new concept model overnight. The 3-Series coupe will become the new 4-Series coupe as a dedicated model in its own right. It's gorgeous, upmarket, and everything that you'll read elsewhere is derived from the press blurb below:
BMW presents the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe
The latest generation of the BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible leads the way worldwide in the premium mid-range coupe and convertible market. Indeed few, if any, rivals have made such a defining impact on this segment in terms of design, dynamics and efficiency.
Now, with the unveiling of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe, BMW is looking ahead to the fourth generation of its sporty mid-range coupe – and reasserting its global leadership credentials in the process.
The “4” – a sign of greater exclusivity and presence
The BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe adds a new dimension to the qualities of the BMW 3 Series Coupe in terms of aesthetics, dynamics and elegance. The “4” doesn’t just mark the start of a new cycle, it represents the zenith of a development curve. BMW has given the new model its own individual character and a standalone design – and, in so doing, has turned “4” into segment shorthand for aesthetic and dynamic appeal.
The latest addition to a nomenclature that sees BMW building on the fine tradition of its large BMW 6 Series and BMW 8 Series Coupes, the “4” stands for greater sportiness, greater exclusivity and even clearer differentiation from the BMW 3 Series range.
The design: a development curve reaches its zenith
The BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe allows the driver to experience the essence of this new, sporting and elegant generation of car in the lap of contemporary luxury. An array of high-quality details provide an exclusive showcase for the car’s perfectly balanced coupe proportions. Inside, the expertise of
BMW Individual, skilled handcraftsmanship and carefully selected materials combine to create a supreme interior. The role of BMW Individual in the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe’s development clearly underlines the brand’s commitment to challenging itself constantly in pursuit of perfection.
Lower and wider stance sharpens dynamics before a wheel is turned The dimensions of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe imbue the car with a dynamic presence even when it is standing still. The wheelbase (2,810 mm) is 50 millimetres longer than that of the existing 3 Series Coupe, while 45 mm has been added to the front track (1,545 mm) and 80 mm to the rear track (1,593 mm). At 1,826 mm wide, the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe is 44 mm broader than its predecessor, its roof line is 16 mm lower (1,362 mm) and it is also longer (4,641 mm) – all of which makes for exceptionally dynamic proportions.
Perfection in proportions
A BMW Coupe is surrounded by a halo of fascination, and one glance tells the observer all he needs to know about the driving experience on offer. The elegant lines and athletic surface interplay of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe embody the qualities and expertise of BMW design and shine out through its sporting silhouette.
The car’s proportions also fit the familiar BMW template: its long wheelbase, long sweeping bonnet, set-back passenger compartment and short overhangs propel the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe forwards even before its engine stirs into life. At the same time, its stretched proportions exude a very athletic elegance – the rear wheel arches mark the widest point of the car, emphasising the point – and taut lines and surfaces etch emotion and precision into the body.
The Coupe’s sophisticated detailing also captures the imagination on closer inspection. Functional elements such as air intakes and vents, door openers and exterior mirrors are given a stylistic lift by classy satin-finish aluminium accents. The exceptional dedication of the designers in achieving the right look for each particular function is evident in every one of these details.
Precision and sportiness in the front seats
Precise contours and multifaceted surfaces define the striking face of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe. The hallmark BMW front-end features, notably the kidney grille and twin circular headlights, have a slim, sporty design and ensure the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe is immediately recognisable as a BMW. The front-end design displays a clear link with the BMW 3 Series family, but its sporting take on the theme accentuates the dynamic leanings of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe.
The new concept car lavishes both front-end design icons with meticulous detail and three-dimensional depth. The kidney grille is closed off in the interests of optimising aerodynamics and keeping fuel consumption low, and the areas between the elaborately designed, satin-finish grille slats are blanked off by dark surfaces.
The full-LED headlights are a hexagonal, extremely technical-looking take on the customary BMW twin circular design. The dynamically chiselled, slimmer interpretation of this iconic design cue integrates seamlessly into the front end.
The design of the headlights adopts the link between the lights and kidney grille familiar from the BMW 3 Series and takes it to the next level, rendering this connection visible in darkness as well. An optical fibre leads out from the inner headlight tube and forms a visual link between the inner headlight and the kidney grille. In so doing, it gives the front end of the Coupe an even broader look.
The most eye-catching feature of the car’s nose beyond the familiar BMW kidney grille and twin circular headlights is the large air intake in the front apron. Its wide opening hints at the extra air required by the powerful engines and guides the eye around to the muscular flared wheel arches.
The two vent surrounds on either side of the intake replicate the contours of the hexagonal headlight graphics to lend the front end an even wider and more sporting look. Three strikingly sculptured, satin-finish aluminium trim elements in the intake provide added presence.
Eye-catching and extremely width-accentuating, they give the aperture a sporty three-way split. The sides of the two flanking vents are of differing thickness and lend the front end a particularly dynamic appearance.
At the same time, they mark off specific areas of the intake for brake and oil cooling and for the Air Curtain. This EfficientDynamics feature channels the incoming air around the outside of the wheels, ensuring the airflow “hugs” the wheel arches and fuel consumption is noticeably reduced as a consequence.
A side order of power and elegance
Flowing, typically BMW proportions and a stretched silhouette define the athletically elegant side view of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe, with elongated lines and expressively contoured surfaces providing a lively interplay of light and shadow. The gently downward-sloping roofline – a classic coupe feature – creates a smooth transition into the rear, stretches the overall appearance of the car and takes the elegant route to accentuating the sporting appeal of the car’s flanks. The side windows also adhere to the slim and stretched theme.
The striking exterior mirrors extend organically out of the shoulderline and provide another example of the eye for detail which allows aerodynamic function to be integrated neatly and with emotional appeal into the car’s form. The BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe boasts elegantly moulded shoulders, and surfaces and volumes blend harmoniously as the roof slopes down into the rear. The result is a sporty C-pillar design, which merges flawlessly into the sleek silhouette.
Below the side windows, the “double swage line” familiar from the BMW 3 Series range lends the car a dynamic sense of forward motion. The shadowed surface above the rear wheel shrinks significantly below the swage line. This accentuates the muscular contours around the rear wheels, emphasising the car’s dynamic flair and hallmark BMW rear-wheel drive.
The Air Breather, an aerodynamically effective aperture behind the front wheels, offers another pointer to the sophisticated aerodynamics of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe. It draws a dynamic path between the two light surfaces of the car’s flanks, replicating the prominent form of the stylistic front-end elements.
The Air Breather brings together the priorities of BMW EfficientDynamics and time-honoured BMW design, and works in tandem with the Air Curtain in the front apron to ensure an effective reduction in drag around the wheels. Exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels add the finishing touches to the car’s dynamically elegant silhouette. Their sophisticated, prominently three-dimensional multi-spoke design underscores their air of sporting elegance.
Broad, sporty stance at the rear
The sporting character of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe continues in the low-slung design of the rear. The prominent horizontal lines and stretched tail lights positioned at the outer edges of the rear draw extra attention to the muscular wheel arches and wide track.
The design of the rear window has a lowering effect on the car’s tail and gives the body as a whole an even more powerful look. It also shows off the car’s broad shoulders with satisfying clarity. The horizontal lines of the rear end frame a subtle three-dimensionality, while a tightly structured concave indent in the rear creates shadowed surfaces and gives the car a forward-surging energy. This contrasting interplay of light and shadow brings extra vivacity to the rear end.
The L-shaped rear lights of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe blend harmoniously into the car’s overall design.
They continue the path of the swage line to the side and are absorbed as an integral part of the exterior design. The tail lights taper in towards the centre of the rear end, but flare out powerfully towards the outer edges, underlining the Coupe’s broad, squat stance on the road.
The inner elements of the rear lights recall a sculpture of contorted surfaces. A full-sized light element here reproduces the signature BMW “double L” in three-dimensional form and with impressive depth. While the emitting surfaces shine brightly, those at the back are rather darker, rendering the strong sense of three-dimensionality visible when the lights are hot as well.
The most striking element of the rear end is the bumper, in which a clearly defined trim element in satin-finish aluminium provides a classy lower edge as the car drops down towards the road. The trim element adopts a similar three-way split to the front air intake, but in a width-emphasising form. It picks up the two exhaust tailpipes in a dynamic sweep at the outer edges of the rear apron before diverting the gaze to the wheels. Small upturns next to the tailpipes lend additional dynamic flair and finesse.
Interior bathed in subtle beauty
The interior of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe follows the traditional BMW recipe, blending sportiness and exclusivity stylishly into a single package. The interior wraps around the driver in typically BMW, driver-focused style. The most important controls for driving the car are grouped ergonomically around the driver to ensure all functions are within the easiest possible reach. The “layering” approach – whereby volumes are arranged into layers through the clever use of lines and surfaces – underlines the dynamic feeling inside the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe.
This dynamic use of lines continues into the door design. All the lines streak backwards towards the rear of the car, thus pulling the focus of the interior clearly towards the front. At the same time, clearly defined surfaces around the window sills and door trim panels converge via the B-pillar into the rear in a tightly structured horizontal movement and connect the front and rear compartments. The arrangement of volumes around the doors, side walls and window sills forms a kind of cocoon around the passengers and generates a sporty and secure sense of space. Added to which, the strong contouring of the rear seats makes them appear like two individual seats joined together, emphasising once again the sporting instincts of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe.
Craftsmanship, sustainability and technical refinement
Developed by BMW Individual, the colour and materials design of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe is tailored precisely to the geometry of the interior. The two-tone Black and Schiaparelli Brown trim provides a particularly effective showcase for the interplay of forms in the front cabin, and light contrast stitching adds a fresh touch to the leather-covered surfaces. This exclusive trim consists of sustainably tanned leather, which makes a convincing case for itself with its natural feel and soft texture, as well as the environment-friendly tanning process used to produce it.
The fine detailing of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe exterior is continued inside the car, numerous elements of which reflect the exceptional attention to detail with which the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe has been put together. As well as discreetly embossed “BMW Individual” lettering on the seats and door sill strips, the seats are also home to very special hand-braided leather trim elements, which run vertically down the seats and enhance the interior’s feeling of class. The likewise leather covered cup holders also adopt the braiding theme, as do the floor mats.
A Natural Chestnut fine wood trim strip adds the finishing touch to the exclusive interior. The combination of carefully selected, high-grade materials, sophisticated details and the extensive use of handcraftsmanship fills the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe with an ambience defined by contemporary luxury. The Liquid Metal Silver exterior colour developed exclusively for the concept car shows off its expressive exterior design to excellent effect and injects an extra dose of energy into the interplay of contours and surfaces.
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