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BMW 4 vs BMW 5: Which is the Better Choice?

1. Introduction

BMW is such a great car brand. People all over the world choose this brand for many reasons such as status, style, comfort, and quality. BMW produces a wide range of cars, each possessing different types of advantages. In this essay, we will compare/differentiate the re-designed BMW 5 series to the new BMW 4 series. After the 3 series, the BMW 4 series and 5 series are one of the most popular series produced by BMW. We will look through these cars in terms of price, style, comfort, and practicality. Many new car buyers often find themselves in a dilemma when it comes to buying a new car. When a person is in a situation to choose two cars of different types, but both are cars of their dreams, they will eventually come to conclude by choosing the car which is more practical for them. However, the definition of a practical car differs from person to person. This essay will show a comparison and contrast of practicality between two cars of different types, a sedan and a coupe. When the new 4 series was released in 2013, there was a huge controversy over it that it is just a re-named 3 series coupe since both cars almost look identical. However, BMW took the new 4 series in a different direction in terms of style and feel. The new 4 series has a longer wheelbase and a lower body which really makes it look like a coupe version of the current 3 series. This means that the 4 series can now simulate the 3 series in terms of space but with a different style and feel. On the other hand, the 5 series is always a sedan and a car which is well known for its luxury and comfort in its class. These two cars are obviously different in price, the 4 series being about 8k cheaper compared to the 5 series. In terms of space, both of them will differ; with the 8k more, a person can just get a base model 3 series which still has more space compared to the 4 series. Now this is where the controversy begins as people may find the difference time it's worth to get a 4 series. (Duraisamy & Deepa2021)

1.1. Overview of the BMW 4 and BMW 5 models

BMW's 4 and 5 car series are designed with the future in mind. Not only are they both equipped with some of the most advanced amenities and technology, but they are also designed with the aim to lead into future car design. Both the BMW 4 and 5 series have a more modernistic design to the exterior. Both cars accurately depict the usual luxuriousness of a regular BMW, but the 4 and 5 series have a more defined sporty look. A more aggressive appearance if you will. Both cars come in a range of body types, from the sedan to the touring. They also come with a range of engines to suit your pocket and the environment. Both bring a fresh era in the executive class to life, while reflecting on the good points of BMW's past. However, underneath all those similarities, the discerning buyer will notice that each car brings something different to the table. The 4 series is a compact executive car that is new from the BMW firm, being made in 2013 and called the E93. It was first revealed in the 2013 North American International Auto Show which was held in Detroit, Michigan. From there on, the 4 series has evolved gradually to change the perceptions of a typical executive car. The 5 series, on the other hand, exudes maturity and class. Being around since 1972, this strong player in the executive car industry has stood the test of time. It has been described as an 'ultimate driving machine' given its excellent performance and nimble handling, and it is in a class of its own in the executive sector. The 5 series has made itself a symbol of luxury, with the perfect blend of sophistication and modern, yet with traditional design. Both cars are similar, but with a subtle difference in attitude.

1.2. Importance of choosing the right BMW model

The 4-series is known for being a little brother to the 3-series, but in actual fact, competes with the 5-series more closely as it is slightly closer to being a 'luxury' car than a 'sports' car. Looking at the corresponding models, the 428i and 528i, we see that the 4-series has a starting price of $47,900 compared to the 5-series at a starting price of $51,900. Right from the start, we see that the 4-series is going to be more cost-effective as practically the same car is at one's disposal for a cheaper price. This is the case for those who want the luxury type car but do not want to spend too much money, and could also stretch to be an alternative for those BMW fans who have always purchased a 3-series but are open to something different.

For a car buyer, selecting the appropriate BMW model comes with weighing various factors like their personal priorities. Knowing what car to choose does not come easy, apart from some who actually see the advantages to one car and disadvantages to another. Many however, just want what suits them best but one would not know which car suits them best till they have actually compared two or more cars. The 4-series and the 5-series are both very fine cars but both have their own advantages, and it is only after knowing these advantages can one make an informed purchase.

2. Performance and Handling

BMW 5 Series and 4 Series handling and driving dynamics are quite similar, if not almost identical to a point. Suspension and steering follow the same formula with go-to-wheel drive models and a more than enjoyable driving experience. Two years of chassis development, wiring, new servotronic steering applications, new suspension technology, and perfect 50:50 weight distribution between front and rear wheels can be seen across both model ranges. Nowadays cars are becoming oversized, overweight, oversized wheels, and complex suspension and steering systems. BMW is trying to recapture the pure driving experience of decades gone by. It's a huge task to try and implement this to all future BMW models worldwide; however, certainly the 4 and 5 Series are leading from the front in the current-day BMW range. Up to a 5 Series, you have all the car you could want in terms of luxuries, interior comfort, and boot space, and it's still handling and driving like a much smaller and lighter car. The new 5 Series measures in slightly bigger than its predecessor; however, it is said to be lighter by increased use of aluminum and magnesium in the car's construction. High-strength steel in the 5 Series also features an increase from 23% to 27%. (Reicherts et al.2021)

Again, much like the 3 Series, the 5 Series has a much wider range of engines available to it than the 4 Series. Starting with the 520i and its 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder, the line-up also consists of the 530i (2.0-litre turbo-petrol), 530d (3.0-litre turbo-diesel straight six), 540i (3.0-litre turbo-petrol straight six) and the flagship M550i xDrive which houses a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8. Rear-wheel drive is offered on the 520i and 530i, with an additional cost opting for xDrive all-wheel drive on the former when the higher specification models all have xDrive as standard. All models in the 5 Series range are auto only. Step down compared to the 4 Series and its performance potential is highly reliant on which 5 Series variant you choose. With the mass of certain 5 Series models and the priority of ride comfort, the engines and power output may not be performance-oriented. Pricing at the very top end of the 5 Series range isn't conducive to a car built and designed purely for enjoyment to drive. As previously mentioned, the 540i and M550i are marketed as driver's cars and therefore BMW has done no cost-cutting measures in terms of dynamic ability on these models. Expect the 6-cylinder petrol and V8-powered 5 Series to perform and handle on a standard not dissimilar to the 4 Series.

2.1. Engine options and power output

The new BMW 528i is powered by a 4-cylinder 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine, and although it has the same power as the outgoing 530i, the engine emissions and economy are vastly improved. With 245bhp and 350Nm of torque, it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds, yet is still capable of achieving 42.8mpg while emitting 154g/km of CO2. The BMW 530d continues to be a popular choice with its 3.0 litre 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine that provides excellent performance and economy. Generating 245bhp and a massive 540Nm of torque, the 530d can still return 49.6mpg and emit 150g/km of CO2. The pick of the bunch has to be the BMW 550i, which is powered by a 407bhp V8 engine. This can power the 5 Series from 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds, and yet despite this performance, can return 31.0mpg with CO2 emissions of 213g/km.

The BMW 5 Series range offers a number of different engine options which all deliver impressive power and a smooth, sophisticated driving experience. Ranging from the modest but frugal 520d, through the refined 528i, the smooth 530d and the V8 powered 550i, there is a choice for everyone. The biggest selling BMW 5 Series is the 520d. This 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine delivers an excellent blend of performance and economy. With 184bhp and a more impressive 380Nm of torque, the 520d can accelerate from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.1 seconds whilst still returning approximately 55.4mpg and emitting 136g/km of CO2.

2.2. Handling and driving dynamics

There are more differences in this category between the BMW 4 Series and BMW 5 Series than you might think. The 4 Series is available with three different suspensions: the standard suspension that comes with the car, which is slightly stiffer and lower than the BMW 3 Series; the M Sport suspension, which is even firmer and lower; and the Adaptive M Sport suspension, which allows drivers to change the suspension settings depending on preference. The 5 Series has similar adaptability in terms of driver preference with the option of Variable Damper Control or Adaptive Drive. The former allows the driver to choose between normal or stiffer suspension settings, and the latter allows the car to adjust the suspension settings to the driving style used and the type of surface being driven on. The Variable Damper Control and Adaptive Drive settings offer a slightly superior system of suspension adaptability in comparison to the Adaptive M Sport suspension offered by the 4 Series. This is due to its wider range of customization and variation, and an ability to adjust to match the type of surface being driven on. Although the 5 Series has an edge in adaptability, it is likely that the difference in suspension between the 4 Series and 5 Series could be considered greater, therefore improving the overall drive of the 4 Series. This could be especially true when comparing each car to its respective predecessor, due to the fact the 4 Series is said to offer improved handling and driver enjoyment in comparison to the F30 3 Series, and the 5 Series is often seen to be softer and less driver focused than the E39 and E60 5 Series. These differences could make for a more thrilling and involving driving experience in the 4 Series as opposed to the 5 Series and could potentially influence the decision of a driver who is considering a switch from the 3 Series to the 4 Series or the 5 Series.

2.3. Acceleration and top speed capabilities

In comparison, the 4 series has 4 engine types available in Australia, being the 420i, 430i, 440i, and the 435d, the latter not currently available in Australia. Whilst the best 0-100 time the 420i has is a respectable 7.3 seconds and fuel economy of 5.8L/100km, the engine does not have a lot of torque and it does struggle a bit moving such a heavy car around. Many people have the impression that it is quite underpowered for a car of its class and, like the 435d, should have a better engine available. The 420i would not be anywhere near as quick as the 520i, having similar acceleration times but with a less powerful engine and a heavier body. The 430i is a better option with an acceleration time from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds in the xDrive variant and fuel economy of 6.5L/100km, but still unable to compare with the performance of the 535i. The 440i has an acceleration time of 5.0-5.5 seconds depending on the variant, with fuel economies ranging from 6.3-7.4L/100km, and has more than enough power for a car of its size with 240kW and 400Nm of torque coming from the straight 6 engine. This is a good choice of engine for the 4 series and gives good performance whilst remaining decently efficient.

The 5 series comes with the option of 3 different engines in Australia, the top of the line 4.4 litre twin turbo V8 in the 550i version, the 3.0 litre twin power turbo in the 535i, and a turbo diesel. The V8 version certainly has plenty of go, accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 5 seconds, making it a very fast large car with plenty of grunt for overtaking. However, the engine is quite thirsty, with a claimed fuel economy of 10.4L/100km. The 535i is not much slower at 5.7 seconds for the 0-100 sprint and is actually much more fuel efficient at 6.8L/100km, due to the smaller engine and the fact that it is not a heavy car to move compared to previous models. The 535i would probably be the pick of the bunch for a balance of performance and economy. The turbo diesel also has a claimed fuel economy of 6.1L/100km and an acceleration time of 6.3 seconds to 100km/h, not bad at all for a large car, but it doesn't like to rev and can run out of breath in spirited driving.

3. Interior and Comfort

The 5 Series is also better equipped, with all models having leather seats. With the 4 Series, the SE model is equipped with cloth upholstery and to have leather, you must upgrade to either the M Sport model or the Luxury model. The range of seat adjustment in the 5 Series is also greater, and sportier models have figure-hugging seats with adjustable side bolster – this option is not available at all in the 4 Series. Front seat comfort in both the 5 and 4 Series is equally exceptional, with rear seat comfort sessions mixed. The 5 Series has better cushioning and under-thigh support, making it the more comfortable of the two. The extra width in the back and the impression of even more space on account of the new 5 Series cabin openness are also factors enhancing rear comfort.

The perceived quality and luxury of the interior is what sets apart the 4 Series from the 3 Series (with which it is otherwise almost identical) and the 5 Series from the 4 Series. The new 5 Series has a broad and spacious interior, particularly in the front. There is an increase in headroom and rear legroom, giving even more space than its predecessor and also roomier than the new 4 Series. The interior is more driver-focused than the 4 Series and sacrifices nothing in terms of quality and luxury. This is reflected by the increase in price from an equivalent 4 Series.

3.1. Cabin design and layout

BMW has managed to pull off a neat trick inside the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Even though it’s a large car, it feels surprisingly intimate. The cabin itself is slightly angled towards the driver like in the driver-focused 3 Series, a point reiterated by a center stack and dash that bends gently towards the left with a driver-centric control layout also mimicking that of the 3. Chrome, high-gloss black, and aluminum details like the 3 Series can be found throughout the cabin with a choice of seven interior colors and four trim levels. The familiar 3 Series approach also registers in the layout of the gauges and optional touchpad, while the banishment of orange illumination. It’s a simple and elegant design, with high-quality materials and there’s absolutely no issue with the aesthetics inside the Gran Coupe. The 5 Series doesn’t do anything wrong inside and in fact, it does a lot of things right, it just doesn’t look or feel massively special. Compared to the E-Class even with the recent updates, it’s traditional BMW. The driver-focused layout is slightly less obvious than in the 3 or 4 Series yet the quality of the materials is superb though it isn’t particularly thrilling to the eye. The cabin is similar basic in layout to the 3 Series and that’s a good thing. In terms of space, the 5 Series clearly wins here. The 4 Series Gran Coupe isn’t uncomfortably tight; it’s just that rear passengers may find their heads brushing the roof lining due to the sweeping roof design. Front passengers will find that head and legroom is more than adequate and the same can be said of the rear passengers in the 5 Series, while there’s acres more head and legroom. Step in and out access of the 5 Series is also more functional though ingress and egress in the 4 Series Gran Coupe is more than manageable. Both cars provide ample storage space inside the cabin with various cup holders and a generously sized glovebox. (Evenson)

3.2. Seating capacity and comfort features

Seating capacity is a crucial deciding factor for some individuals who are looking to buy a BMW. While the 5 Series is bigger and has the obvious head and leg room, there are quite a few people who aren't going to use it to its full potential. The 4 Series is a two-door coupe and will obviously only sit 4 people, but it has more than enough head and leg room for the front and back passengers. This is because the 4 Series Gran Coupe was designed to have the exact same front and rear dimensions of the F30 3 Series Sedan. In my experience, the 4 Series will cater to most people who will be using the car to pick up and drive around friends, and still provide the possible extra space for when needed. The niche of individuals that need a big car, or a seventh seat have already turned their attention away from the 3 and 4 Series BMWs. Both the 4 and 5 Series will obviously be top in terms of comfort features, with top quality centre armrests, reading lights, and storage compartments. These are features that you would most likely expect to come as standard in any BMW model today. The 5 Series may have a slight edge with a tad more rear passenger room and for their front-seated individuals, active seats as an option. Phase 1 of the 5 Series active seats had the purpose of unnoticeably adjusting the sides of the backrest and cushion to allow a constant change of posture. The idea was to provide better, more comfortable seating and to reduce the onset of tiredness. This feature was later improved in phase 2 to also include the prevention of posture fatigue, with the seat making adjustments to the sides of the backrest and cushion in response to detected signs of fatigue. Although this is a fantastic piece of technology for those who can afford it, it's a far cry from what most of the general population of safety-seeking and penny-pinching 5 series buyers were looking for.

3.3. Technology and infotainment options

Even though the 4 Series and 5 Series come with iDrive infotainment and navigation, the iDrive on the BMW 5 Series is the latest version. The iDrive on the BMW 5 Series is much better with the touch screen, whereas with the BMW 4 Series, you have to rely on the rotary dial in the center console. Another difference is that the BMW 5 Series comes with wireless Apple CarPlay standard, and if you use an android, the BMW 5 series also comes with wireless android auto standard. The BMW 4 Series only comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay, but you can purchase a 1-year subscription for the android auto. Features which aren't available on the 4 Series also include Remote Control Parking (which allows the car to park itself) and Remote 3D view (which allows you to see a 3D view of your car and its surroundings on your phone). Both of these features are very cool but you would be paying a large amount extra just for these 2 features. (Gandage et al.2023)

4. Price and Value

One way to compare residuals for different models is to examine what equivalent year old models are being sold for now and comparing that to new prices. By using this method we can see that for most like-for-like models, the 4 Series does not greatly outperform the 5 Series in terms of value retention. This suggests that 5 Series ownership would not actually cost much more than for a 4 Series, as lower depreciation would largely offset the 5 Series' higher list price. Lower value 5 Series models can even be a match in terms of overall ownership cost by this method, if a good 4 Series with high spec depreciates as much as a basic 5 Series. The exception to this is the top of the range 435d xDrive M Sport, which holds significantly more value than any other 4 or 5 Series model. This is likely owing to the fact that four-wheel drive and six-cylinder diesel engines are rare among BMWs, yet highly sought after in the used car market. So in terms of residual value, this top 4 Series model may actually be cheaper to own than an equivalent year 7 Series, X3 or even X5.

First of all, we examine how the cost of a new BMW 4 Series compares to its BMW 5 Series stablemate. The basic 420i Gran Coupe costs around £31,000, while the six-cylinder 440i version is closer to £40,000 in standard SE form. This makes the 4 Series closely priced with the 520i and 530i petrol versions of the 5 Series, although there is a significant step up to the 540i which costs almost £47,000 in SE form. Moving to diesel options, a 420d SE Gran Coupe costs a couple of thousand less than a 520d SE saloon, while the higher spec 430d Gran Coupe and 435d xDrive M Sport are around the same price as equivalent 5 Series models.

4.1. Cost comparison between BMW 4 and BMW 5

The 4 Series costs approximately 11% less than an equivalently equipped 5 Series. This price difference will be reflected in insurance costs and hence overall annual ownership costs. When comparing 'apples-to-apples', a potential 5 Series buyer should also keep in mind future repair costs. As a vehicle with more features and electronics, a 5 Series repair will generally cost more than a 4 Series repair of the same item. Both cars come with similar free maintenance and warranty coverage. However, the 5 Series will incur higher cost and frequency of repairs at the completion of its maintenance coverage. High end 3 Series models now overlap the low end 5 Series in price and high end 4 Series models overlap the bottom end of the 6 Series in price. This is an important notion with the release of the new 3 and 4 Series models as they will cannibalize some 5 and 6 Series sales. The 5 Series will depreciate faster than the 4 Series. Essentially, the 5 Series will continue to get more expensive (in terms of purchase price and ownership cost) while the 4 Series has potential to be a similar future ownership option to the current 5 Series.

4.2. Resale value and depreciation

It is important to note that high residual value can be a double-edged sword for car buyers. While it is advantageous if you plan to purchase a new car and trade it in for a higher model or another car in the same range, it can actually cost more if you plan to purchase a used one. A car with a high residual value will have a higher price in the used market compared to its counterparts. So, if you are looking for a good used luxury sedan, the BMW 5 series would be a good choice. However, if you feel that the cost of repairs for a used luxury car may not be worth it, a used mainstream car with low mileage can be a viable alternative.

Another aspect to consider is the cost of ownership. This includes the average cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance and repair, as well as state fees. While the 5 series generally costs more than the 4 series in terms of maintenance and repair due to the complexity of its high-tech systems, such as active dampers or air suspension, the strong residual value of the 5 series brings the cost of ownership between the two models closer. Insurance costs are also higher for the 5 series, as it is marketed towards executives. However, the higher cost of insurance can be offset by the higher residual value of the 5 series. According to KBB, the 4 series actually wins in terms of total cost of ownership (TCO).

Car depreciation, which is in simple terms the amount of value your car loses over time, is a significant factor to consider when purchasing a vehicle. It is widely known that a new car loses 11% of its value the moment you drive it off the dealership lot. Over the next three years, the car tends to lose an average of 15-20% of its value each year. However, luxury brands like BMW tend to fare better in terms of depreciation compared to mainstream brands. In particular, the BMW 5 series retains its value better than its smaller counterpart, the 4 series. According to depreciationdata.com UK, published by Automotive data company, the BMW 4 series is said to retain 43-65% of its value over a span of three years, while the BMW 5 series retains 53-67%. This is an 8% difference, which can be attributed to the fact that the 5 series is intended for executives, while the 4 series is catered to a younger market.

4.3. Additional features and customization options

Some people have a very clear idea about the specifications of the car they want to buy, while others may prefer to opt for a lower specification on a larger car or a higher specification on a smaller car if the price is similar. Specification comparison is quite complex, but for a very general comparison, the additional options available on a base model 4-cylinder 420i BMW 4 series constitute a similar level of options available on a base model 5 series at a higher cost. This means that buyers looking at a base model 5 series may find that they can get the same options on a 4 series for less money. For those who aren't concerned with the cost, it means that a 5 series can be customized to a higher level than a 4 series. (POSTERS)

Customization is typically a strong selling point for any BMW model, and the BMW 4 and BMW 5 are no exception. While the 5 series has slightly more scope for features, both models offer a broad range of options that allow buyers to tailor the car to their personal tastes. Additional features range from paint colors and interior trims to adaptive suspension and intelligent lighting, and convenience and luxury options are extensive. Both the 4 and the 5 are available in "Luxury Line" and "Sport Line" configurations, and the 5 series also offers a "Modern Line" configuration. Each configuration has its own specific wheel design, interior trim options, and additional features.


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Reicherts, S., Hesse, B.S. and Schramm, D., 2021. Use of naturalistic driving studies for identification of vehicle dynamics. IEEE Open Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems, 2, pp.195-206. ieee.org

Evenson, L., . ction en at• 1erre one ucationa. openprairie.sdstate.edu. sdstate.edu

Gandage, S., Swami, P. and Bengire, S.R., 2023. Virtual Paint. Journal of Scientific Research and Technology, pp.25-38. jsrtjournal.com

POSTERS, D., . E200. namwheels.com. namwheels.com