2014 BMW 4 SERIES REVIEW
What’s Hot: Sexy proportions, strong performance, value buying.
What’s Not: Fuzzy steering around dead centre, rear headroom tight.
X-FACTOR: Better looking than a 3 Series Sedan, more practical than a 4 Series Coupe. The ideal middle ground.
Vehicle Style: Four-door luxury coupe
Price: $70,000 - $109,000 (plus on-roads)
420i: 135kW/270Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 8sp auto
428i: 180kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 8sp auto
420d: 135kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 8sp auto
435i: 225kW/400Nm 3.0 turbo petrol 6cyl | 8sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 420d: 4.6 l/100km, 420i: 6.1 l/100km, 428i: 6.4 l/100km, 435i: 7.6 l/100km
BMW’s fetish for inventing new vehicle categories has given us things like the puzzling X6 and the gawky 5 Series Gran Turismo, but it’s also resulted in one of the most visually stunning cars available today: the 6 Series Gran Coupe.
The Bavarian masters have taken the four-door 6er’s successful formula and applied it to the 4 Series, and it’s just as attractive as its bigger stablemate.
But are there compromises associated with adding two more doors to a coupe’s body?
Sure, yet in the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s case we found it to be an altogether more appealing product than the Coupe - and one that could conceivably steal more than a few customers from the brand’s best-seller, the 3 Series.
- 4+1 seating, frameless doors.
- Standard equipment: bi-xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control, power tailgate, power-adjustable sports front seats, leather upholstery, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors.
- Standard infotainment: Navigation system Professional, USB audio input, Bluetooth audio and phone integration, iPod compatibility, BMW ConnectedDrive functionality, 8.8-inchl LCD display.
- Boot capacity: 480L minimum, 1300L maximum.
If you’ve spent any time in a two-door 4 Series, you’ll feel at home in the Gran Coupe.
Besides a slight difference in door length, the Gran Coupe’s cabin furnishings forward of the B-pillars are pretty much identical to that of the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible.
But with the Gran Coupe’s slightly higher roofline and extra pair of doors, it feels more than a little roomier than the Coupe, even though its other external dimensions are almost perfect matches for the Coupe.
The back seat has three seatbelts, but realistically is best occupied by no more that two people. Headroom is in short supply too, as it is in most 'four-door coupes'.
Legroom isn’t bad though, and rear passengers get face-level air-vents, a 12-volt outlet, a fold-down centre armrest, cupholders and door bins.
For example, leather upholstery, reversing camera, bi-xenon headlamps, a high-feature sat-nav system, 18-inch alloys, Sport Line trim and a power tailgate are all standard on the $70,000 420i Gran Coupe.
Apply the same options to a 320i and the retail price rises from $60,500 to $69,114.
And if you think the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s svelte silhouette compromises boot space, think again. At 480 litres with the rear seats up, the Gran Coupe has the same cargo volume as a 3 Series sedan.
Drop the 40/20/40 split rear seats, and total capacity rises to 1300 litres.
ON THE ROAD
- 420i: 135kW/270Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 8sp auto
- 428i: 180kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 8sp auto
- 420d: 135kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 8sp auto
- 435i: 225kW/400Nm 3.0 turbo petrol 6cyl | 8sp auto
- MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension. Adaptive dampers optional.
- Disc brakes all around, four-piston fixed front calipers on 435i.
- Electric power steering
Though the 420i and 420d are available from launch, we only had the opportunity to drive the two sportier petrol-engined variants, the 428i and 435i.
And like the chassis they’re fitted into, these engines don’t differ much from what’s offered in the 3 Series range.
The 428i performs well for a 2.0 litre four-cylinder. Numbers like 180kW and 350Nm are not to be sneezed at, and a 0-100km/h sprint time of six seconds flat is more than respectable.
The ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic is, as always, a fantastic transmission, and it has the right spread of ratios and the right calibration to make the most of the 428i’s power and torque characteristics.
But the 435i Gran Coupe that we also drove brought even more joy, in the form of its turbo 3.0 six and 225kW/400Nm output.
The 0-100km/h dash is done in 5.2 seconds, and the power delivery of the 435i’s straight six is silky-smooth.
Once you get past the intial turbo lag (which is miniscule), the 435i just pulls and pulls right up to redline.
But as with the 335i, even in Sport+ the 435i’s gearbox will up-shift at redline and also kicks down by itself when in manual mode. It's to protect the longevity of the drivetrain but not ideal for the racetrack (if that's your weekend proclivity).
And though the handling is quite hard to fault, the electrically-assisted steering has a vague spot around dead centre. It’s not as bad as in the X5, but it’s noticeable enough to be an irritation - particularly on highways.
Ride quality can be a little sharp over country backroads, but given both of the cars we drove rolled on 19-inch alloys, we’d expect the standard 18-inch alloys of the lesser models (19s are standard on the 435i Gran Coupe) to ride a tad softer.
ANCAP rating: The BMW 4 Series has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control (switchable), ABS, EBD and brake assist are standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe, as are dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags.
All seats have a three-point seatbelt and there are two ISOFIX anchorages in the back seat, though the middle passenger misses out on a headrest.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
If you’re looking for a luxury four-door coupe in the 4 Series’ size category, the Audi A5 Sportback is your only other option.
The Volkswagen CC has the same kind of style and retails for much less than the Audi or BMW, but lacks the brand cachet of both.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
BMW Australia’s local boss Phil Horton reckons that the 4 Series Gran Coupe won’t be a niche model, and we can understand why.
For almost the same money as a similarly-specced 3 Series sedan, you can jag a slightly less-pragmatic 4 Series Gran Coupe.
It looks better than the tasty 3 Series and offers a driving experience that’s much the same.
Is that a ‘win’? If you don’t need to carry backseat passengers on a regular basis, we would think so.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- BMW 420i Gran Coupé - $70,000
- BMW 420d Gran Coupé - $72,300
- BMW 428i Gran Coupé - $81,000
- BMW 435i Gran Coupé - $109,000
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