2014 BMW 435i xDrive - Deciphering Luxury Sports Coupe Code - Review, Video

"Drive...He Said" bids R.I.P. to the BMW "3-Series Coupe," 1975-2012.

What started as the father of modern compact luxury sport coupes, added two more doors, proving driving purity, refinement and practicality could cohabitate.

This year starts a new model series numbering scheme at Bayerische Motoren Werke A.G.:

Odd-numbers = 4-doors; Even-numbers = 2-doors. Except when the Even-numbers are preceded either by "X" or followed by "Gran Coupe."

Hu!

Two-Door Hunter:

Adrian von Hooydonk's re-designed 2014 BMW F32 435i xDrive coupe is the "Hunter" to the F30 sedan's "Gatherer."

Wider twin-kidney grille is a bull's flared nostrils. Tri-faceted air-dam   front Air Curtains and fender Air Breathers reduce drag Lower, wider, with greater rear track than 3-series sedan. LED headlights, angel-eye driving lights and tail-lamps Sculpted aluminum hood Raked windshield and tapering roof Fast-back rear quarter w/ integrated trunk spoiler Twin chrome exhaust outlets.

Alter Ego Filtered:

- If you believe that the twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0L inline-six cylinder gas engine makes only 295 lb-ft torque, we have some cheap Google stock to sell you. Since much of that engine twist comes in at a ridiculously low 1200 rpm, most of the growl heard inside is hi-fi synthesized.

Idle emission stifling Start-Stop ignition in the BMW 435i remains embarrassing off the line. Eco Pro mode's languid accelerator and hasty upshift algorithm spell "Buzz Kill."

Toggle Sport Mode on the center console. On second thought, head straight for Sport + Mode. It locks out Start/ Stop and unlocks the sinister side of the BMW 435i. Throttle tip-in tries to be judicious. Perhaps only the most tempered right foot can resist dispatching a broken UCLA water main-like 23 psi of boost.

- The paddle-shiftable 8-Speed ZF manumatic transmission snaps smooth shifts, and can throttle blip. Multi-plate wet clutch xDrive can switch from a nominal 40:60 F/R power split to 100% at either end. Otherwise the Bridgestone S001 summer performance tires could be sent spinning into 3rd gear. The open front & rear-differential 435i x-Drive survives with Dynamic Stability Control torque vectoring.

Don't Leave the 435i Without It:

- Dynamic Handling package: Price: $1000:

- Adaptive Suspension: 2-mode magnetic adjusting damping partners with progressive springs. Most roll & squat is exorcised, with slight dive betraying nose heaviness. Slower rebound in Comfort Mode makes the optional 19" M-alloy wheels daily-driveable.

- Variable Servotronic steering assist: In the F30's conversion to electric steering assist, wind-up lost fluidity. Road sensations eliminated.

Variable Assist in the 435i is steering angle slip rather than speed dependent. Road feel is still a bit filtered, but helm return to center more natural.

- M- Brakes: Price: $650:

"Big Brake" option = six fixed piston front & two fixed piston rear bright blue calipers. They can squeeze the life out of the vented 13"-inch + rotors. Pedal action = linear without excessive touchiness.

Seeing Red:

- Find the Coral Red trimmed interior with splashes of Aluminum hexagon too loud? BMW also offers a palette of beige, brown or black.  Cabin mood lighting varies between combinations of white/ blue/ orange. Attention to detail approaches the 7-Series. However, webbed ceiling liner and plain plastic window and seat switchgear aren't worthy.

- Sport seats are confusingly part of the $3100 M-Sport package. Only the scent of the optional Dakota leather is richer than the pebble grain.  Not even the manual knee extender, though, delivers the expected unity with driver. (See Volvo V60 ). Power upper and lower lumbar adjustments mandate the $2200 premium packages. Is there any point to driver seat memory switches jumbled next to position switches?

The 435i driver's airbag is brilliantly condensed into petite steering wheel boss. Switches are artfully integrated within beveled spokes. Large leather trimmed shift paddles beg to be flipped. Good thing the feet can't see the plain rubber accelerator and brake pedals.

- Serving as a 2+ occasional 2-seater, deep scooping to the 435i dual fixed rear buckets make them liveable. Run-flat tires eliminate spare tire and inflator for a deep trunk, with sub-floor caddy. Folding rear seat backs split 40/20/40%.

Wide-Screen Interface:

- 2014 BMW 435i traditional round gauges get a modern thin-film-transistor twist. White-on-black goes orange-on-black at night. Exposure to sun-glare and a trip/ drive mode LCD, partly obscured by the steering wheel, are the weak links.

- Falling under "nice to have it, but don't need it": Heads Up Display, including GPS posted/ traveled speed and navigation turn directions.

- Optional LCD 8.8"-inch split navigation screen is a wide-screen pod-type. Color contrast is high and a bird-eye view map can zoom from street block out to Earth. I-Drive's rotating settings control knob gets tilt-pad activation on top. It's best left for spelunking into deep sub-menus and accessing owner's manual diagrams from the 200 GB hard-drive. Sensibly, BMW dignifies the generations that were raised on tactile audio and climate dials and switches.

- BMW Concierge is a 10 year deal.  A "mere" $3150 Technology Package with ConnectedDrive turns the BMW 435i into a data applications office, email and entertainment district. Handy Dragon text-to-messaging bears subscription charges.

Maturing to a Lower Intensity:

If the $63,725 price of our Alpine White 2014 BMW 435i xDrive tester elicits an "ouch," restraint is urged on the $15,000 worth of extras.  For what directness of old has been relinquished, the 435i xDrive has gained a level of sophistication and refinement, with excellent road manners, sufficient to boast: "Ultimate Grand Touring Machine."

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