Gran Designs: BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

New cars Reviews
PetrolBlog reviews the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and reckons it could be one of the best looking BMWs ever built. Buy one, we like looking at them.

The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe isn't perfect. In fact, I'd wager that it would get a solid four-star rating in a traditional car mag review. But it doesn't need to be perfect, because BMW has well and truly nailed one significant element. The fact is, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is drop dead gorgeous.

I've tried to find an awkward angle, but so far my search has been fruitless.

Which, when you think about it, is quite remarkable. Put aside your thoughts about BMW's burgeoning model range and scope for confusion for a moment and consider what the 4 Series Gran Coupe actually is.

It's a four-door version of the two-door 4 Series Coupe, with an extra rear seat and a larger boot. By rights, that should make it less pretty than the Coupe. You only need to look at the 3 and 5 Series Gran Turismos for evidence of this. But somehow, BMW has managed to make the 4 Series Gran Coupe better looking.

Sticking my neck out here, I'd go as far as ranking it as one of the best looking BMWs of the past three decades. But hey, my favourite BMW is the E30 Touring, so I wouldn't read too much into my thoughts.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe review

But in shrinking the size of the front doors to make room for the rears and increasing the height and length of the roof, BMW has created a masterpiece. Compare the side profile of the respective cars to see my point.

Clearly, styling is a subjective issue. It will come down to a matter of opinion. But I don't mind admitting that I reckon the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is one of the best looking four-door cars you can buy.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe side profile

Last week I drove a pair of Gran Coupes, starting with the 428i in range-topping M Sport trim, swiftly followed by the 420d, which is likely to be the most popular model, although mine was equipped with the optional xDrive four-wheel drive system.

The 428i M Sport is a curious beast. Don't let the number confuse you, the 428i is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine, developing 245hp and 350Nm of torque. When mated to the excellent eight-speed automatic transmission - take note, Alfa Romeo - the 428i Gran Coupe accelerates to 62mph in a more-than-respectable six seconds.

Rear of BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Yet despite this, the 428i Gran Coupe is strangely lifeless to drive. It's as though its default setting is to relax, rather than to entertain, which feels at odds with the optional Estoril Blue paintwork and 19-inch M double-spoke alloy wheels.

When cornering, the 428i Gran Coupe feels heavy and there's more than a hint of body roll, even with the benefit of the optional adaptive M Sport suspension. What's more, the steering is too light and that's with the optional variable sport steering.

Selecting Sport on the Drive Performance Control sharpens the throttle response and suspension, whilst holding on to a gear for a longer period of time, therefore making it the default setting for a spirited drive. Eco Pro mode makes the throttle feel incredibly unappealing, encouraging you to walk instead. Which, to be fair, would be the most eco-friendly way of getting about.

It feels quick and the soundtrack from the exhaust is wonderfully satisfying, but it would appear BMW has kept something back for the M4, which by all accounts is quite the performance hero. Blame the fabled 428i badge, plus the assorted M Sport trinkets for raising my expectations to levels the 2.0-litre 4 Series Gran Coupe can't deliver on.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe interior

On the plus side, the 428i Gran Coupe would be a delightful car to live with. The fully-adjustable steering wheel and sport seats ensure that everyone should find their perfect driving position. It also rides superbly, even on some of the worst Cotswolds roads.

The 428i automatic has the potential to return 44.8mpg on a combined cycle, emitting 147g/km CO2. The 420d xDrive with a manual 'box - which, in SE trim, understandably feels less special than the M Sport - economy of 60.1mpg is possible, with emissions of 124g/km.

Highlights of the 420d include a highly-refined diesel engine and a smooth six-speed manual gearbox. In diesel SE trim, it's almost impossible to get excited about the 4 Series Gran Coupe, but with the right options and in the right colour, it would make for a tasteful rep-mobile.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe rear seats

Put it this way, it's better looking than the 3 Series and the price points are the same as the standard 4 Series Coupe. So why not opt for the better looking and more exclusive Gran Coupe?

BMW expects to shift 28,000 4 Series over the next seven years, with the Gran Coupe accounting for just 25% of this number. So you'll be joining a select group of owners.

What else do you need to consider? Well, thanks to a raise middle, the additional rear seat is only good for occasional use and the rear headroom isn't great. Visibility is also restricted, thanks to large A-, B- and C-pillars. It was also surprising to note that some of the interior plastics, most notably on lower sections of the dashboard and transmission tunnel, weren't up to the quality you'd expect from a car costing £30k plus.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe frameless glass

But that's where the criticisms end.  The BMW Connected Drive package remains excellent and having four rimless glass side windows is something you'd never tire of. Plus, at 480 litres, the 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an extra 35 litres of boot space compared with the 4 Series Coupe.

Thanks to a wide and long opening, it's a useable space, which, when folding the tri-folding rear seat forward, can be extended to a total of 1,300 litres. Oh, and an automatic tailgate is standard across the 4 Series Gran Coupe range. Note that the rear seats don't fold totally flat.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe boot space

The level of standard kit is generous in the extreme, with the list including 17-inch alloy wheels, Dakota leather, DAB radio, auto lights, auto wipers, xenon headlights, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth, heated front seats, 6.5-inch colour screen, plus front and rear parking sensors.

Prices start from £29,425 for the 420i SE, with Sport trim adding £1,500, Luxury adding £2,500 and M Sport commanding a £3,000 premium. A £41,115 435i Luxury will join the range soon, offering 306hp and a sprint time of 5.2 seconds, when equipped with the eight-speed auto transmission.

BMW's xDrive four-wheel drive system, which is now available on 22 models, is available for £1,500 and increases CO2 emissions by 7g/km and reduces fuel economy by 4mpg. Good figures, thanks in part to the system's lightness, which typically adds 70 to 90kg of weight.

Front of BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Not that any of this matters, because this is a BMW that scores very highly on PetrolBlog's 'Petrol Station Forecourt' test. Buy one, the roads need more cars like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Exterior images © PetrolBlog, interior images © BMW.