BMW took the decision to separate the 3 Series models a while ago now. Whilst saloon variants remained under the legendary nameplate, both the coupe and convertible went their separate ways creating the 4 Series. This has enabled BMW to differentiate these cars producing a more handling focused package in the 4 Series line-up. Today the new 4 Series family has gained a third member in the form of the Gran Coupe. “Hang fire just one second! Aren’t saloon models now strictly placed within the 3 Series department?” I hear you cry. Indeed they are, however, the Gran Coupe as the name suggests is not technically a saloon. The four-door coupe segment has grown dramatically over the past few years with Audi and Mercedes-Benz all wanting a piece of the action. According to BMW, further ammunition for this cars business case lies in the fact that their 6 Series Gran Coupe outsells its coupe and convertible siblings by quite a margin. With 28,000 predicted sales over a 7 year period, this BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe 420d xDrive is expected to be one of the most popular specifications.
Looking seductively sleek from nose to tail, our test car was equipped the M Sport package giving it an even leaner profile. The strong bodylines that detail this sloping coupe enriches the car with taught muscular features. Proportionally the Gran Coupe retains similar dimensions to the coupe, only being 23mm taller. The thinking behind the car is that some customers want the sharp looks that a 4 Series coupe offers, but still require the practicality of a four-door. Here is proof that style needn’t be compromised by the requirements of family life.
Inside the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe 420d xDrive is just as special as the outside. The highly detailed wrap-around interior separates itself from that of the 3 Series with many sculpted shapes. Quality leather flows from the seats seamlessly to nearly every surface complimenting the aluminium detailing of the M Sport package. A large widescreen display sits as the centrepiece of the console primed with the latest iDrive software which, after a bit of sifting through, can be concluded as a big improvement over the old system. Touch input, where you can draw letters onto the surface of the traditional knob, enables you to quickly navigate your vast phonebook with ease. Rear seating offers a supportive bench that hosts three. Head and leg room are good for the outermost passengers considering the low roofline, however, if you are sat in the middle a large transmission tunnel will leave you no option other than to adopt an undignified straddle position. The traditional dark rear quarters of a coupe have been banished thanks to large windows allowing natural light to penetrate into the cabin. Another key attribute of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is its 480 litre boot which is identical in capacity to the new 3 Series. An automatic hatchback further increases day-to-day usability at no extra cost regardless of trim level.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe 420d xDrive is endowed with a 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel engine and all wheel drive. In this guise, not only does the xDrive setup offer that added sense of security during challenging weather, but also BMW claims that it will achieve 57.6MPG. In motion the torque from the turbo diesel, in tandem with having four wheels sending power to the ground, creates a strong surge of acceleration. The power is split between the two axels, but as much as 100% can be sent to the rear when such a situation demands it. These alterations are made in 0.1 seconds. Thanks to this dexterity the Gran Coupe feels nimble even with the added weight of all wheel drive. In comfort mode the ride is compliant but still retains that sporting edge of other 4 Series. The steering is light but precise. Switching things up to sport and then sport+ brings forth increased throttle response and greater weight to the steering. In this state the difference between a 3 Series saloon and the Gran Coupe is clear. The car feels alert and delivers a dynamic and very enjoyable experience that keen drivers will relish, even with the kids in the back. Whilst sport mode is no doubt where this BMW belongs, the firming of the suspension makes our often bumpy roads a bit grating over prolonged periods. Unfortunately in this model there is no way to tailor a specific suspension set-up of comfort to the desirable control sensitivity of sport. Overall the 420d xDrive feels surefooted and as with other BMWs specified with it, the 8 speed ZF gearbox has to be the smoothest of any automatic on sale today. Clicking though the gears via the paddle shifters showed it not only to be quick, but so subtle it is hard to notice the change.
Whilst this diesel engine might not be the quietest on the market, it is very capable and has proven to be a good companion for the rest of this package. The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe 420d xDrive is a very likable machine both in urban environments and whilst cruising at higher speeds. Although sceptical of this cars purpose in the BMW range at first, I am now convinced that it more than justifies itself.