For private buyers spending their own money, the theory goes, 4 series coupe, cabriolet and four-door coupe, are sufficiently distanced from the fleet-discounted, company-car-dominated 3 series market to persuade them to put their hands in their pockets. A look at last year's sales figures gives you a picture: 3 series saloon sold 24,855, the estate 9,788 and the unloved GT hatchback 2,089, while 4 series coupe sold 9,136, the convertible version 4,258 and the Gran Coupe 10,085.
How close are the 3 and 4 series? They share a similar underbody design of largely steel bodyshell with aluminium wings and a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension using aluminium links. The coachwork designs are unique apart from the shared bonnet with the 4 series having lowered and stiffened suspension, but strangely cheap single-piston calliper brakes unless you opt for the bigger-engined derivatives. At 4.64 metres long, 4 series is 7mm shorter that the 3 series, 14mm wider, about 65mm lower depending on the model, and runs on the same 2,810mm wheelbase.
With its heavily sloped roof line and blown-out rear wheel arches, the coupe is purposeful rather than beautiful. The folding hard-top cabrio isn't attractive with its Webasto-built roof up, but it does look good when it's down, with a flat, chiselled door line. Neither car is particularly practical, though, once you are past the seat-belt delivery arms and into the coupe's rear seats, there's leg room enough, but not a lot of headroom. The cabrio is worse in every aspect and even its 370-litre boot is smaller than the 445-litre coupe's. If you carry rear-seat passengers, then you'll need the four-door grand coupe, which is surprisingly commodious and almost as good looking as the standard two-door coupe.
This refresh/facelift has had a rolling introduction this spring with the grand coupe already on sale and the coupe and cabrio slated for late May. There's a new front and rear valance, new optional LED headlamps with octagon running light shapes, LED rear lamps, and a new bit of trim around the front. All the cars get revised suspension with a 14mm wider track at the front and 22mm wider at the rear, which has the effect of lowering the centre of gravity by up to 40mm on the coupe. In addition, the springing and damping on the coupe and grand coupe are even stiffer.