I really like BMWs and it had been a number of years since I had driven a 4-Series, so I was really looking forward to driving the all-new 430i. I wasn’t disappointed.
Slipping behind the wheel was like meeting up with an old friend who I hadn’t see in years. Everything was familiar. I knew exactly where all the controls were and precisely how they work. No guess work, no reading the owner’s manual, no hunt and peck. Just get in the car and drive.
Most new cars today have giant, touch-sensitive display screens that dominate the dashboard. Not the new 430i. It offers an 8.8” or optional 10.3” screen which are more than adequate for the tasks at hand. Better still, the screens are controlled with a rotary knob on the center console which I much prefer over touchscreens. There are also voice controls for those who prefer that.
The rotary knob allows drivers to reach over to their right and find it without ever taking their eyes off the road. Once you get familiar with it, you can scroll through menus or radio stations simply by feel, with perhaps an occasional glance at the screen.
I find this far safer and less distracting than having to take my eyes off the road and look at a touchscreen to see where I have to place my finger. With a touchscreen I also have to steady my hand against another part of the instrument panel before I can touch the screen, because otherwise my index finger will miss where I’m trying to touch as it moves up and down because of every irregularity in the road. And then inevitably I’ll touch an icon on the screen and nothing happens. And then I have to touch it again. And sometimes even a third time. Mind you, my eyes are not watching the road while all this happens, and that’s why a simple, intuitive, “eyes on the road” rotary knob is so much less distracting and safer.
So, like I said, getting in the 430i was like visiting with an old friend. And with the driving chores so familiar and so easy to execute, that allowed me to focus on the other attributes of this car, like the impeccable fit and finish, the rich use of interior materials, the road hugging quality of its suspension, and the crisp response of its 2-liter turbo. BMW cracked the code on this sport sedan formula years ago and has stayed true to it ever since. How do you say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” in German?
Engine: 255 horsepower, 294 pound-feet
Fuel economy: 28 MPG
Base price (U.S. w/destination): $46,195
Price as tested (U.S. w/destination): $56,300
By: John McElroy
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.