TOP MARKS to BMW this week for tackling the coronavirus outbreak head on – it’s just launched a car that dons a face mask as standard!
As a result, the new 4-Series will be able to travel on public transport without breaking any of Boris’ guidelines. It’ll be able to queue for half an hour outside the supermarkets before enjoying a socially distanced shop.
It’ll be able to meet anyone from outside of the BMW household, providing it stays two metres away, for an unlimited amount of time.
Or it could just be that Munich’s new coupé, depending on who you ask, has Bugs Bunny’s teeth or a front end modelled on Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.
But I reckon BMW’s been smart to launch the 4-Series now, because by the time it actually reaches UK showrooms in October we’ll have grown a little more accustomed to its, erm, challenging new look.
Say what you want about the cosmetics, but underneath it’s business as usual – so that means sharpened up bits from the latest 3-Series saloon, four-wheel-drive for the upper echelons of the range and a choice of hybrid-assisted diesels and silky smooth petrol units.
Not that it’s just a two-door version of BMW’s big-seller – it’s lower and wider than the four-door, so it should handle better too.
Chances are the one you’ll be seeing on illicit drives to Barnard Castle is the entry-level 420i Sport, which for £39,870 uses a four-cylinder petrol unit to do its bidding, but the one you really want is the M440i XDrive, which has a turbocharged three-litre straight six beneath its bonnet, 374bhp on tap and can crack sixty in 4.5 seconds. Not long ago that was M3 territory.
I also like the fact it uses hybrid tech to expand the grin on your face as well as the range between fill-ups; sure, you can use its 48-volt starter-generator system to go a little bit further by scooping up all the energy you’d have otherwise wasted on braking, but it’ll also allow you to claim it, delivering an extra 11bhp when you need it.
I know 11bhp isn’t much, but it could make all the difference on one of those seemingly never-ending, multi-car overtakes that a minority of BMW owners love indulging in.
Personally, I reckon the new 4-Series is shaping up to be a cracking car, but the proof will be in whether it retains the scalpel-sharp delicacy of BMW’s older two-door offerings.
It’s also very much a car of our times; in an era when we’ve all got used to masking up, it’s nice to see there’s now a car that reflects how its owners look.
All of which means that when this horrible disease goes away, BMW will have to eventually give it a facelift where it drops the Batman villain front end.
Oh, that’s how it meant to look?
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly