If you like the look of a BMW 4 Series coupe but family duties look like forcing you into something a bit frumpier, help is at hand. The 4 Series Gran Coupe retains a sleek shape but adds a couple of rear doors.
Stick with us here. This one takes a bit of working out. BMW will sell you a four-door 3 Series but calls the two-door coupe version a 4 Series. So far, so good. With the introduction of a 4 Series Gran Coupe, there's now a five-door 4 Series, the Gran Coupe. There's also a five-door 3 Series, the Gran Turismo, all these models being spun off the same chassis. The whole strategy of giving the sexy sports models the even-numbered model prefixes fell to pieces with the introduction of the frumpy 2 Series Active Tourer, so if you're wondering what BMW is going to do next, then so are we. Anyway, enough of BMW's highly un-Germanic flip-flopping and vacillating and onto the car in hand. The 4 Series Gran Coupe looks a good deal sleeker than the 3 Series Gran Turismo and it's doubtful that buyers will cross-shop the two models. If you like the idea of the elegant 4 Series but can't make it work for your family requirements, help may be at hand.
Given that the 4 Series Gran Coupe runs on the same running gear as the 4 Series Coupe, it's reasonable to expect similar driving dynamics. The wheelbase, length, track and width of the Gran Coupe are exactly the same as its two-door sibling, so it clues you into what you're going to get. Buyers choose between three petrol engines; the 184PS 420i and the 245PS 428i are both 2.0-litre fours, while the 306PS 435i sports a classic BMW straight-six, in this instance boosted by a couple of turbos. Go diesel and you're looking at either the 150PS 418d or the 184PS 420d, both of two-litre capacity, then there's the six-cylinder 430d with 258PS or the range-topping 435d, which packs a hefty 313PS unit. BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system is also offered as an option with the 420i, the 420d and the 430d, while it's standard fit on the 435d. BMW has come late to the all-wheel drive game but is catching up fast, with xDrive models making up an increasing share of the product mix. The suspension is a modified version of the 3 Series' largely aluminium setup, this time with adjustable dampers. This 4 sits a bit closer to the road than a 3 Series and also gets the coupe's extra bracing between the front subframe and the body, beefing up steering response.
Improving on the aesthetics of the slinky 4 Series Coupe is a bit of an ask, especially if part of the remit is boosting practicality, but BMW's stylists haven't done a bad job at all with the Gran Coupe. Aside from the obvious addition of an extra pair of rear doors, you'll notice the way that the roofline has been teased backwards to offer more space, the long boot lid of the coupe being sacrificed to a more stub-tailed silhouette. If you're one of the many who have recoiled from the Gran Turismo models, it's okay. You can come out from behind the sofa. Due to the fact that this isn't a long wheelbase variant, you can't expect a great deal more room in the rear. There's a bit more headroom in the back; the roofline sitting 12mm higher. There's a 480-litre boot which gives you an additional 35-litres over the Coupe and the 40/20/40 split rear seat is a nice touch. Fold the seats down and there's a massive 1,300 litres available. BMW claims the Gran Coupe can swallow weekend luggage for four without recourse to folding the rear seats. Even with four up, longer items can be accommodated with the folding centre section. There's a Smart Open function offered which automatically opens and closes the tailgate if you wave your foot under the rear bumper although if you're so laden down that you can't open the tailgate, you probably don't want to be doing one-footed manoeuvres.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe trim line-up mirrors that of the Coupe, with SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport trims. Entry-level versions get leather heated seats, xenon headlamps, LED rear lights, a parking radar, as well as climate control, so although the prices are around £3,000 more expensive model-for-model than the 3 Series, you do get more gear. Satellite navigation is standard on most versions, but the adaptive dampers are a box you might want to tick on the options list, as well as the sport steering. We could take or leave the sports seats, but the stereo upgrade is worth giving a listening to. BMW will also tempt you with a range of Connected services, a head-up display and some neat driver aids but you'll need to keep an eye on the asking price. It's easily possible to spend £38,000 on an M Sport 420d with an auto box, add a few options and end up having spent more than £40,000 on a four-cylinder, two-litre diesel hatch.
Like all modern BMWs, the 4 Series Gran Coupe delivers some incredible efficiency figures. Once you've got over the upfront cost of the car, this means that actual day-to-day running costs will be on a par with far more humble tackle. Thank BMW's EfficientDynamics technology for that, this suite of measures resulting in ultra-competitive economy and emissions figures right across the board. Take the 428i for example; a petrol-engined performance model that can dip under six seconds to 60mph yet still returns a fuel economy figure of 42.8mpg and emissions of just 154g/km. The real standout performer at present is the 420d, which manages to wring 60 miles from a gallon of diesel and emits a mere 124g/km. Go for the range-topping 435i and you'll see 35.8mpg and 185g/km. Expect strong residuals which will continue to give mainstream car manufacturers something to fret over. Insurance ratings are also said to have been driven down by better repairability and improved security.
Once you've wrapped your brain around the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe's reason for existence, there's a lot to like about it. Granted, there are many chassis derivatives spun off the basic 3 Series underpinnings and the 4 Series Gran Coupe is unashamedly niche, but if you need usable back seats but also want a sleek body style, this is about your best bet at the accessible end of the BMW range. Given the huge sales of the 3 Series saloon, it's far from inconceivable that the 4 Series Gran Coupe could pick up a few of these, as well as muscling in on the territory of the Audi A5 Sportback and even poach some orders away from cars like the Mercedes CLA as well. We've recently had some models that seemed strange additions to the BMW range and the public have given them the cold shoulder. This one also seems a bit of an oddity but looks as if it has more than enough talent to succeed.
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