I’ll be the first one to admit that when I first heard about the idea behind the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe I was puzzled for a moment. Bringing out a four-door version of the two-door version of a sedan sounded like a forced contraption coming from the deepest thought wells of the marketing team. And then I got to drive one.
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Surprisingly, my first contact with BMW’s four-door coupe was also disappointing. It happened back in 2014 as the car had just been unveiled and something felt odd. Maybe my prejudice towards it prevented me from really bonding with it. Everything felt out of place. The rear doors seemed too small, getting in the back was also troublesome and not even its exterior design couldn’t make me love it. And then, I had yet another encounter with it earlier this year and… somehow, I fell in love with it. Could it be the magic of the M Performance package it was wearing?
BMW invited me to sample the 4 Series Gran Coupe once again, this time in a completely different configuration, one that made it a winner in my book and wrote an unforgettable page in my mind, the week I spent with it being truly satisfying.
Back in 2014 I drove the 420d model with the Luxury Line exterior package and while the name should impress a lot of people, nothing really felt luxurious about it. This time around, the beauty that was waiting for me was a Mineral Grey 430d xDrive with the M Sport package and the entire list of M Performance add-ons ticked.
From the moment I laid my eyes on it, I was stunned. The carbon fiber bits added here and there made it look as if it was bent on causing destruction everywhere it went, imposing respect without having to work for it. The front bumper received a generous front lip made entirely out of carbon fiber as well as blacked out grilles from the M Performance catalog. Those, you have to see in person to appreciate how much of a difference they make.
Even the stripes added under the door handles made a big difference, as tacky as they may sound, emphasizing the character line that goes from the front fender back to the stoplights. The door sills made it seem as if the ride height was lowered and at the back a new diffuser was installed on the bumper as well as an impressive carbon fiber spoiler on the boot lid.The wheels were also yet another beautiful surprise, the 20” M Performance Dual Spoke 624M styling alloys grabbing more than just a gasp from me and anyone else admiring the Bimmer anywhere it went.
This thing looked the part and we didn’t even get to the best bits about it yet.
Under the hood, the 3-liter inline six cylinder diesel also received the M Performance Power kit which took the output up from the standard 258 hp and 560 Nm (413 lb-ft) to 282 hp and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft), a noticeable increase when you’re out, carving mountain roads. As a matter of fact, BMW claims that they could’ve squeezed more out of the engine but the gearbox acted as a sort of limiter when it came to the torque figure.
Excited to finally get on board and start seeing what this beauty can do, I didn’t hesitate to almost snatch the key from the BMW official standing in front of me that was trying really hard to explain the extent of modifications this car had received. Almost nothing got through to me as I was hypnotized and could only think about the fun times ahead.
Inside the cabin even more M Performance goodies were waiting. The M Sport package the car was fitted with included the already brilliant seats with Alcantara and hexagonal blue accents but there was more to it than you’d expect. In front of me sat an M Performance steering wheel that was just right in thickness and feel and featured a small display at the top, showing a wide array of performance figures to help you get the most out of the car on the track. From the paddles hidden behind it to the LEDs that tell you when to shift gear, everything felt as if this car was as close as you can get to an F-35 cockpit. And there was an obscene amount of things you could configure it to do. From showing you the oil and water temperatures, to recording ¼ mile runs and lap times as well as the g-forces you experience inside the car, everything was on the table.
Then there were the small design cues thrown here and there. All the trims were made of carbon fiber, from the steering wheel to the dash accents and the center console trims and even the door handles. On the passenger side of the dash, the M Performance badge shined bright, being stitched on Alcantara in white blue and red. I was ready to head out.
The first thing I noticed as soon as I hit city traffic was how many baffled looks this car attracted, everyone taking pictures or simply drooling over it at stop lights or even in moving traffic. And who could blame them? The wheels alone made the 4 Series Gran Coupe stand out more than I could’ve imagined also bringing about a couple of disadvantages for as good as they looked, they did make you feel every single crack in the road.
Even so, in Comfort mode, the 4 Series Gran Coupe felt as composed as it possibly could have been with such huge rims to ride on. As long as you didn’t drive over the worse roads in the world, you could live with 20” wheels but you might want to stay away from any kind of curbs, to make sure you keep them intact as they will be easily scratched. Being black and all, any small scratch will immediately stand out.
Also cruising around town I couldn’t help but notice that the rear spoiler cut into the visibility you get out the rear window. I know it may sound peculiar at first, as it isn’t all that big of an issue, but due to the car’s already small window, visibility gets hindered even more out the back, as the 2 inches of carbon fiber take away even more.
Overall, the visibility is good from the driver’s seat, at least looking forward and to the sides and you shouldn’t have an issue parking the car if you get the rear-view camera or the 360-degree surround view camera system.
However, while all the attention you get around town might be something some people crave, it’s on curvy mountain roads or on a track where this beast shines best. Putting the xDrive system to the test, as well as the M Performance Power Kit and the rest of the goodies added on, took me out of the city, onto open roads.
In standard guise the 430d xDrive Gran Coupe is a fast car already. Its 3-liter mil gets you up to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 5.3 seconds, while making you hold your breath due to the torque that pushes you back constantly. The all-wheel drive system also helps out if you live in areas where snow might make things hard but then again you could also do without it and save some precious weight by just investing a good set of winter tires. Even so, it’s good to know that the system the 4 Series Gran Coupe uses is still the old-fashioned one that is rear-wheel drive biased which allows you to push the car to new limits every time. There’s a slight hint of understeer making itself noticeable if you charge into a corner carrying too much speed but then again, the added traction will help out as soon as you pass the apex and exit the turn. Of course, you can still get the rear end out and sliding if you want and it’s as rewarding as ever.
The steering wasn’t impressive and, in Sport mode it gets a bit too heavy, trying to mimic a good-old fashion hydraulic system that has long been gone from BMW’s offerings. Sure, the feedback isn’t all that great but you do get a sense of what the front wheels are doing and some of that credit goes to the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
And while some may say that a diesel is in no way befitting this car, you’ll be glad to know that ubiquitous torque is a good thing to have, especially with the perfectly tuned ZF 8-speed gearbox that’s right there with you every time you want it to. On top of all that, outside of the city limits we found the fuel consumption figures to be downright impressive with an average of 6.3 l/100 km (37.3 mpg) with an average speed of 105 km/h (65 mph). For a car that weighs 1,700 kg (3,747 lbs), I’d say that’s not a bad result after all. Around town, that figure, however, goes up to 10.6 l/100 km (22.1 mpg).
To some people, the difference in fuel consumption compared to a petrol alternative might be worth living with a noisier and less refined mill under the hood. However, BMW’s straight six 3-liter diesel engines are some of the most refined units you can get in the auto industry today and that really shouldn’t make you worry. During our time with the car, we could hardly complain about the sound the engine made.
So what’s there not to like then? To be honest, little to nothing. Sure, the space in the back may not be as accommodating as in the 3 Series sedan but then again, it’s not as big of a difference as you may think. The two do share a lot of components, from the engines to the interior design, but the 4 Series Gran Coupe can be easily set apart. Compared to its Sedan brother, the Gran Coupe is longer and wider by around 0.5 inches (12.7 mm). The roof is, however, 0.5 inches higher and stretches 4.4 inches (112 mm) more towards the muscular rear of the vehicle, giving it pair of tastefully restrained but visible hips that may just make you fall in love. You’ve been warned! There are also frameless doors all around that make the car stand out even more, especially when the windows are rolled down, while keeping things silent in the cabin even at higher speeds.
The one thing you wouldn’t expect though is that while the car does look fast and can be very fast, you’ll end up driving it slow most of the time, especially if it’s fitted with all the M Performance goodies, like it was the case with our tester. That’s because you’ll always be looking to not scrape the front spoiler and especially the 20” M Performance wheels that cost 3,566 Euros ($4,000). Of course, that doesn’t count if you spend most of your days on the Autobahn or on the track, where the asphalt is supposed to be flawless. Since that’s an idyllic scenario, most people will be more than careful with their rides.
All in all, pricing might also be an issue. Compared to the 3 Series Sedan, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is the more expensive choice but it is, surprisingly, just as expensive if not even cheaper (in the US) as the 2-door Coupe. That makes for quite an interesting choice, price-wise.
You can get the Gran Coupe with its added practicality for the same price and that’s something that will get a lot of people interested, especially since the two are virtually identical in terms of size. And you don’t have to worry about head room or leg room in the back. As long as you’re not over 6-feet tall, you’ll be comfortable back there as well.
Our tester was priced at 72,693 Euros with optional features worth of 16,149 Euros included. That’s without the M Performance goodies though, that added up to a hefty 10,666 Euros more. In total, for the car you see in the pictures below, you’d have to pay 83,359 Euros in Europe and that’s an obscene amount, even for a car as good looking as this one.
Now, with the new Audi A5 Coupe coming out, the BMW 4 Series range will have a new challenger to meet, but our time with the car convinced us that it is more than ready to meet it head on, even if it already has two years under its belt. Nothing about the 4 Series Gran Coupe made us wonder whether we’d buy it or not. The handling, the comfort, luxury and especially the beauty of the thing made us want more, a feeling that may very well become addictive.