BMW’s new 4 Series Convertible

Meet the new BMW 4 Series Convertible, the latest model to join the expanding portfolio of cars. It replaces the 3 Series Convertible and, along with the Coupé forms the all-new 4 Series family that will eventually grow to include the X4 and 4 Gran Coupé. Like its sibling, the Convertible is handsome and imposing in the flesh. Read the full review published in in Wallpaper*.

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Review: BMW 4 Series Coupé

Meet the new 4 Series Coupé. Driven last week in the Scottish Highlands, the drama of this unique landscape, where in one single afternoon we witnessed four contrasting seasons, and where for miles upon miles not a sole can be spotted, proved to be an ideal stage to highlight the sleek, sculpted and sophisticated lines of this latest BMW. The 4 really is a handsome car in the flesh.

The car replaces the 3 Series Coupé and forms the new 4 Series family that will grow in time to include the X4 and more. To briefly explain this new numbering, the German marque is streamlining its model naming process to help differentiate the ever-expanding family of cars. So all coupés and convertible – sportier models – will have even numbers while the odd numbers will apply to the more sober saloons and estates.

The 4 Series Coupé is significantly lower than the model it replaces. It has also been stretched by 26mm lengthwise and 43mm in width. All this has had a striking effect on the car to make it look and feel immediately sportier, younger even. The wheel arches are the widest point in the car and have been heavily sculptured to draw attention to the car’s generous hips. It really gives it a great stance – almost hugging the road. Added to this the 4 Series Coupé has the lowest centre of gravity of any current BMW which makes for great road handling.

The designers have also manipulated the car’s accessories, its ‘jewellery’, to accentuate the fantastic proportions. The double grille at the front is slightly forward leaning here, and the twin round circular xenon headlights slightly smaller to work with the overall proportions of this car. Additionally, stretched L-shaped LED taillights on the outer extremes of the car, accentuates the width of the 4 Series.

Inside has an immediately sportier feel. The control layout is heavily driver-focused with sport multi-function leather steering wheel and free standing 6.5-inch iDrive control display. The longer wheelbase allows for noticeably more room in the rear compartment, and the boot is a decent size for a coupé.

Car companies are offering more and more variations in a bid to attract and keep buyers. The options are growing, yet in terms of design the general standard is sadly poor. Drive along any highway and it is hit and miss spotting the handsome cars. Often they tend to be either classics or overtly premium models. Mainstream cars, even in this higher price bracket, are simply dull. In this context the 4 Series Coupé is a blast of fresh air.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read more on BMW here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | www.d-talks.com | Bookshopwww.d-talks.com/bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

Driving pleasure: Lotus Elise

There are few cars built today that offer a uniquely special driving experience. The Lotus Elise does. Here we have a car that has been stripped down to its bare bones for pure driving pleasure. The reaction is simply visceral. This small two-seater forms a special bond with its driver. It is quite delicious.

The Elise is definitely not a car for everyone. It isn’t a pragmatic choice by any stretch of the imagination. It’s extremely low, almost on ground level, so getting in and out is a little tricky. I’d advice against even attempting to do so with the cloth roof in place. It helps to be agile, and not too tall. Your knees need to be in good condition, and having flexible limbs is a big bonus. There is no elegant way of doing this but I found a little hop whilst holding onto the frame works.

Then there is the roof. This small cloth structure is mechanically operated and takes a few takes to master. You unclick the sides, roll it up and store it behind the driver and passenger seats. The problem is that this area is tiny and you need to get the roll as compact as possible to fit it in. Once safely inside, the bucket seats are surprisingly comfy; they hug the frame and as I was to discover first hand whilst in the passenger seat, are the perfect car seat for a power nap on route.

The stripped down cockpit offers only the bare essentials – there is not much of a glove compartment, the stereo is a simple CD player/radio and the boot is a petit bucket size slot at the rear next to the engine. Yet instead of taking away from the driving experience, the utilitarian interior design – where form really does follow function – only enhances the driving pleasure.

Once I got used to driving so low down – visibility is a little issue for someone of my 5”2 stature – the Elise really connects with the road. You feel every bump, every stone, every spec of dirt… but that only adds value to the adventure. Turn the engine on and the Elise S starts with a lovely sounding roar. The steering is unassisted and responsive, the suspension pretty obedient for a light, low car like this. You can have a great deal of fun on snaky B-road where we took the car for a drive.

The sportier S version we drove is powered by a 1.8-litre Toyota four-cylinder assisted by a supercharger. Power is at 217bhp with 184lb ft of torque at 4,600rpm, which makes it easy to drive the little Lotus quickly. And it’s not too thirsty at 37.5mpg.

The Elise S is a no frills machine that offers pure driving pleasure in a way that some other cars seemed to have forgotten how to do. It is a truly thrilling driving experience.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | www.d-talks.com | Bookshopwww.d-talks.com/bookshop | Published by Banksthomas