The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is here. We’ve reviewed it, and it’s great, but we’re not entirely sure what it is.
Nowadays it’s next to impossible to work out BMW’s naming conventions. The confusion started with the introduction of crossovers that bridged the gap between two existing models (yes X4 and X6, we are looking at you) but nowadays it’s nigh on impossible to fathom – especially in the 3 and 4 Series ranges.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe, tested here, is especially baffling. It is a five-door version of the three-door 4 Series Coupe, which in itself is a three-door version of the five-door 3 Series Saloon.
If your head’s about to explode, think of the 4 Series Gran Coupe as a smaller version of the 3 Series Gran Turismo, which is more practical than the 4 Series Coupe because it has two more doors. Comprende? No? Us neither, but we agreed to test one anyway, and it turns out it’s pretty decent.
Catch a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and 3 Series Saloon side by side in the wild and from certain angles you would need the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes to separate the two. Not that we mind because both cars have a smart look about them; stylish enough to warrant attention, but not in a shouty manner.
The front end of the 4 Series Gran Coupe is definitely the highlight, thanks to its aggressive front bumper and sleek headlights. A twin-pipe exhaust on the 428i is another plus, even if the back end looks a bit too similar to the 3 Series.
Inside, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is typical BMW, with lots of layers and textures and a functional, logical layout to all the controls. We’re not huge fans of the dashboard material, which feels a little cheap on close inspection.
Extra doors save the need for front passengers to get out every time someone needs to get in the back, which is handy. But you’ll have drawn the short straw if you’re forced to sit in the tiny middle seat at the rear. Headroom is ok for the most part — there’s plenty of space for six footers, though taller passeners might want to call shotgun on the slightly more spacious front seat.
The boot has 480 litres of space, up from 445 litres in the 4 Series Coupe. This can be extended to 1,300 litres when the parcel shelf is removed. The rear seats sit at a slight angle when folded flat, which may impair the loading abilities a tad, but it’s certainly not a dealbreaker.
Adding to the practicality is a powered tailgate as standard, so you can press a button rather than exerting yourself. There’s also a good-sized glove compartment and various cubby holes including a central area under the armrest, which houses a USB connection for your phone or tablet.
Door pocket space is thin on the ground for both the front and rear doors. Optional split-folding rear seats (£170) are a useful addition and probably should be standard.
Performance & Handling
We were able to drive a number of different engine versions and the 435d xDrive is the performance pick of the bunch. Its engine has a whopping 313hp and 630Nm of torque at its disposal, propelling it from a standstil to 62mph in 4.8 seconds. It is more than just the figures that make the 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo engine so likable — it sounds lovely too, for a diesel.
At low speeds the engine produces a quiet grumble. Plant your foot and it comes to life, giving you a very addictive thunder. This dual personality will appeal to drivers that want to do the school run in quiet, subdued fashion during the week, and engage in a spot of hoonery once the kids are safely deployed.
Grip is good, with very little body roll in the corners. The suspension is arguably a bit firm, but the seats lend a hand in soaking up imperfections in the road, so only the largest lumps and bumps will give you any trouble.
Even the ‘lowly’ 420d is rewarding to drive, with a decent 360Nm of torque helping the car accelerate hard regardless of what gear you’re in or how many revs you’re doing. The manual box is very rewarding, though the engine is a bit noisy — in a grumbly, workhorse sort of way, but everyone loves an underdog. The 420d is available with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system, which engages the front wheels when the rear wheels begin to lose grip — handy for anyone worried about driving in inclement weather.
Economy & Environment
Most of the 4 Series Gran Coupe engines are relatively efficient. CO2 emissions are 118g/km for the 418d, while the 420d spews out 124g/km. The 430d and 435d are less eco-friendly, at 140 and 146g/km, respectively, but better than the 420i petrol, which can only front up 149g/km and 44.1mpg. The 435i is a bit thirsty, at 25mpg and 198g/km. Things improve when with the eight-speed Steptronic automatic is fitted, mind you.
Even the incredibly rapid 435d xDrive can manage 50mpg if you refrain from driving it hard. Which you will almost certainly never do. Take a dent in performance and the 420d can manage 60mpg, only three mpg less than the 418d.
Equipment & Value
The cheapest 4 Series Gran Coupe starts from £29,425. That gets you a 420i SE. The standard 4 Series and 4 Series Gran Coupe are priced very similarly, so effectively you are getting the extra doors free. A comparable 320i SE manual costs £26,570, but while the Gran Coupe is more costly, it has more gadgets and gizmos to reflect the difference.
Standard equipment includes leather seats, DAB digital radio, 6.5-inch display with navigation, cruise control with brake function, BMW TeleServices, BMW Online services, real-time traffic information, dual-zone air-conditioning and front heated seats.
You will need to dig deep if you want the top-of-the-range £45,045 435d xDrive M Sport Coupe.
There are plenty of extras to separate you from your hard-earned cash. £95 extra adds an Internet browser. Adaptive M Sport suspension is £750. The smoking pack adds £25. The £1,900 M Sport Plus package is worth a look if you want less ride-friendly 19-inch alloys, the M Sport braking system and an upgraded Harman Kardon stereo. Sun lovers can select an £895 glass sunroof.
It’s not cheap then, but the Gran Coupe is priced competitively. An Audi A5 Sportback will dent your wallet to the tune of £31,840.
There’s no Euro NCAP test to go on just yet, but the 4 Series Gran Coupe should be as safe as houses, seeing as the 3 Series scored a full five stars, with adult occupant protection a highlight. The lengthy bonnet, airbags and German build quality should ensure you and your companions are well protected in the event of an emergency.
Nervous types can always splash out on some additional safety equipment such as a lane change warning system (£440), Active Cruise Control with “Stop and GO” function (£620) and brighter Adaptive LED headlights (£1,600).
Like most BMWs, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is a very attractive package. It looks stylish, offers varying levels of performance and economy ranging from sporty to frugal – it feels really solidly put together.
Is the 4 Series Gran Coupe a better proposition than the 4 Series Coupe or 3 Series Saloon? We would say yes. Unless you absolutely love the styling of the three-door, we think the Gran Coupe offers better value for money.
In short, the 4 Series has you covered if you want a practical saloon. Just don’t ask us where it fits into the rest of the BMW range.
BMW 428i pictures