TEST DRIVE: 2019 BMW 430d Gran Coupe – A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

4-Series, Test Drives | July 6th, 2019 by 1
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The 4 Series Gran Coupe is a sleek four-door hatch whose gorgeous athletic looks belie what is a very practical car. It debuted in 2014, …

The 4 Series Gran Coupe is a sleek four-door hatch whose gorgeous athletic looks belie what is a very practical car. It debuted in 2014, and in 2018 underwent a mid-cycle refresh with new front and rear fascias, engines, a tweak of the handling as well as an upgrade to the electronics. The 4 Series Gran Coupe rides on the same chassis as the great handling 4 Series Coupe which has a wider rear track and better handling than the F30 3 Series sedan from which it is derived. We recently had a chance to drive the BMW 430d xDrive version of the 4 Series Gran Coupe on a trip from Munich to Austria.

BMW was able to create the 4 Series Gran Coupe by carrying the roofline of the 4 Series 2 door back another 4.4” and adding 1” of headroom to the 4 Series. There was not a change to the wheelbase at all. With these two small tweaks, BMW was able to sneak two back doors and a rear hatch, which created a vehicle able to carry 4 people and luggage in comfort and speed. A modest weight penalty and a slight bump in price being its only downsides. 

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For this test drive, we picked a Snapper Rocks Blue 430d xDrive Series Gran Coupe up from BMW’s press fleet in Munich and within 20 minutes were on the Autobahn heading south on A8. You might think the Autobahn means flat-out driving as long and as fast as you want. Alas, the Autobahn is more and more crowded with traffic, especially close to cities, which meant topping out about 110 mph (180 km/h). Just before we hit the Austrian border, we stopped to pick up an all-important €9.2 Austrian Vignette sticker to pay the toll to use the Austrian Autobahn and avoid a potential €120 fine. These are sold at gas stations close to the border. 

Once in Austria, we continued to head south towards the Alps and navigated to one of the top-10 driving roads in the world, the Grossglockner High Alpine road. This scenic Austrian road goes so high it is covered with snow 6 months a year and as such is open only May – October. Stopping at the toll gate at the bottom of the mountain, we paid our €36.50 for a ticket to take the 48 km route 36 turns over the pass to the other and then back again. Shortly after we rolled through the toll gate, some cars were returning from having just finished the pass and I could smell hot brakes like one does at a track day. I knew I was in for a special treat with one of my favorite BMWs!  

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On the way up and over the mountain on the Grossglockner, I took my time enjoying the stunning views on a crystal clear day, stopping for some photos and filming for our video review. On the way back, however, I ran The High Alpine Road straight through and managed to get a clean run without too much traffic. I moved the 430d’s 8-speed automatic transmissions shifter over to the left to put it in port mode and hit the Sport button on the console. The whole digital dash now glows an angry orangish-red. In Sport mode, the steering sharpens up and the throttle becomes more responsive. It was a perfect setting for a run through the alps. Traffic on our blitz through the Mountain Pass was easily dispatched with the 430d’s prodigious amounts of torque. 

BMW had fitted our car with Michelin’s excellent Pilot Sport 4S. Tire temps were great for our run and we got great grip and stopping power out of them. It truly is a stunning mountain pass with dramatic views, hairpin turns and short tight passing points. As we had set off on our trip early, the pass was not yet congested and made for a perfect run.

The High Alpine Road showed off what’s great about the BMW 430d Gran Coupe. It is an extremely well-balanced vehicle with lots of power, great brakes, and great handling. All three are in balance. On the Gran Coupe, BMW’s all-wheel-drive system seemed to never put a foot wrong when powering out of tight turns. BMW’s brakes helped stop me coming down the mountain going deep into the tight switchbacks. In wide open spaces, such as the Autobahn, the xDrive allows the car to function with a rear-wheel drive bias and showed remarkable high-speed stability. 

Powering the BMW 430d is a turbocharged 3.0L inline six-cylinder diesel that makes 254 hp and 560 Nm (413 lb-ft) of torque. The abundant torque down low in the revs allowed me to take full advantage of the few tight passing opportunities, be it going up the mountain or coming down the mountain. Knowing I had a great chassis and great brakes allowed me to be able to use the 430d’s powerful motor and yet remain in control. 

The whole time driving the car wasn’t spent on unbelievable mountain top driving roads. A lot of it was in transit from Munich to Zell Am See, Austria and then off towards Innsbruck. These transit days gave an opportunity to appreciate other aspects of the car such as how good BMW’s Head-Up Nav is. At one point the Head-Up Display showed me the speed of the car, the speed limit I was in, that I was in a no-passing zone, what my next turn was and how far away it was. Having the best in the business Head-Up Nav kept me informed at all times of the speed limits, especially as the small country roads which can have stealthy speed cameras and frequently changing speed limits.

The other thing I really enjoyed about the BMW 430d Gran Coupe was its active cruise control. I found it extremely useful when stuck in traffic around construction zones. I would set the cruise at say 80 km/h (49.7 mph), or whatever the speed limit was, and it would dutifully follow the car in front of me. You can see the radar cruise control box below the front bumper on the 4 Series Gran Coupe if so optioned. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the 4 Series Gran Coupe is just how it doesn’t seem to make any compromises. From the driver’s seat, you have an immersive BMW coupe driving experience, yet have enough space for four people and luggage. It truly is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

4 Series GranCoupe is available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.  Engine options range from a 418d, 420d, 430d and 435d for the diesel range and a 420, 430 and 440i in gasoline engines. The 430d xDrive seems to me to be a sweet spot in performance and efficiency. We drove 582 km and used 42.77 liters of diesel.  The 430d Gran Coupe xDrive is rated at 51 mpg yet can drive like a true sports car when called upon.  

Check out our video review which also includes a time lapse of our run over the Grossglockner.

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