After decades of the 3 Series Coupe, BMW says it has changed the name of its revered two-door to the 4 Series. Why? Because according to BMW, "It's plus one of everything."

As cliché as that sounds in today's world of Gmail high fives, BMW is quite accurate in its statement.

The all-new 4 Series is longer, wider, lower, faster and more focused than its predecessor. It also has more interior room and a bigger trunk.

More accurately, it's a "plus-one" model range for BMW, because it will spawn a cabriolet, a four-door coupe and, of course, an M4. Until that M4 arrives, though, the 2014 BMW 435i will be the strongest and fastest of the two 4 Series models headed here.

2014 BMW 435i

New Name, Familiar Engines
While Europeans get a range of diesel-powered coupes, the U.S. market will have a choice between the 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder 428i and the 300-hp turbocharged inline six-cylinder 435i.

BMW will tie those engines to a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive an option on both models.

When equipped with the eight-speed, BMW claims the 435i will go from zero to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 155 mph. The 428i offers nearly the same performance with a lot less weight over the front axle and far better economy. It hits 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has the same top speed.

Can't See the Big Changes
It isn't sheer power that makes the 2014 BMW 435i the car it is, but the chassis engineering inside it. BMW worked on creating a body-in-white that was about the same weight as its predecessor but had 60 percent more torsional rigidity and a 50:50 weight distribution. Total weight is a claimed 3,527 pounds for a 435i with the eight-speed automatic, but that's an unloaded European-spec figure so U.S. models will likely weigh in slightly higher.

Perhaps more critically, the 435i has had its center of gravity lowered by nearly an inch. That helps the driver to feel more like part of the car rather than a rider on top of it, and gives the 435i a more planted feel in corners...

..So Easily Likable, Lovable Even
The shame of it is that the rest of the car is all there. It's an easy car to be immediately comfortable in, especially sitting so low in the chassis that you feel almost as if your butt is below the propshaft. The steering feels even better sorted than the suspension, the electric system finally delivering the sort of intuitive tacking that BMW lost in the switch from hydraulics.

But it's the chassis that stars, with its wider front track biting hard into corners, flitting out the other side in a marvelous example of chassis balance and suspension geometry. It feels faithfully, progressively lovely.

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