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by Daniel DeGasperi

While a concept model is tipped to be shown at the Detroit motor show in January, the production BMW 4 Series has this week been snapped almost completely undisguised in Munich.

A longer rear three-quarter window, a more pronounced side character crease and front three-quarter panel gill helps distinguish BMW’s renamed mid-sized two-door from its E92 3 Series coupe predecessor.

BMW Australia’s Product Communications Manager, Scott Croaker, all but confirmed the naming re-structure will take place.

“It is something that BMW has been playing with for a while, in terms of having coupes as an even number [model designation], and sedans and tourings as an odd number.”

This also aligns with the 6 Series as a large coupe, and the X6 as a coupe-style version of the X5. The forthcoming 1 Series coupe replacement will move up one digit, while the X6-style version of the X3, due next year, will be tagged X4.

Croaker also pointed to the likelihood of an M Performance variant joining the coupe lineup, in line with their introduction in 1 Series, 5 Series and X5/X6.

“With the expectation that the M3 will increase in performance and power, it will increase that gap [between current 335i and M3] and allow a fair bit more room for an M Performance model to fill,” said Croaker.

“It’s not so much about keeping that gap consistent if the M3 moves up in power, because obviously there’s a model that could easily step into that gap.”

Croaker cited the 250kW 3 Series ActiveHybrid as currently filling that gap in the sedan range. He couldn’t, however, confirm reports that the 4 Series snapped was wearing 440i badgework, but did point to what a sub-M3 model could offer.

“You’d expect a 440i [coupe] would be an increase in performance versus the 335i [sedan]. We do have a 740i which is a higher output version of the same engine in the 535i, so the engine exists, and the designation exists already in our 7 Series range,” said Croaker.

“Everything’s in place for it to occur.”

The 740i gets 240kW and 450Nm, compared with 225kW/400Nm for the 535i, F30 335i sedan, and outgoing 335i coupe.

Despite the naming restructure, the BMW 4 Series will still follow the new F30 Series’ step up in external dimensions, while reducing weight compared with the current 1445kg-1525kg coupe range.

As with the new F30 3 Series, smaller-capacity six-cylinder engines will make way for high-output turbo fours at the lower end of the range.

Although official images of the 4 Series production car will appear soon after the concept is unveiled at Detroit, the range may not make it here before 2014.

“It’ll be close to end of next year or probably more likely for 2014,” confirmed Croaker.

The flagship M4, presumably the two-door version of M3 sedan, will run around nine months behind the regular range.




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