BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe review
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe aims to combine the style of the 4 Series Coupe with the practicality of the 3 Series
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe attempts to downsize the recipe of the four-door coupe concept, which was pioneered by the Mercedes CLS. Like its big brother, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, it combines rakish coupe-like looks with four doors and a big boot to create a stylish family car.
Based on the fine 4 Series Coupe but offering a bigger boot and easier passenger transport, it’s a worthy rival to the ageing but successful Audi A5 Sportback and Volkswagen CC. It also offers customers looking at a BMW 3 Series saloon an in-house alternative. The Gran Coupe may demand a £3,020 premium over the 3 Series spec for spec but more equipement is fitted as standard, plus you get a svelte coupe look.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe’s cab-back styling hints at the 4 Series Coupe. However, the addition of an extra 12mm of roofline height, plus the rear hatchback and two more doors mean its closer in styling to an Audi A5 Sportback than a true BMW coupe.
From some angles, the swooping rear glass doesn’t look all that radical, and onlookers could be forgiven for not noticing the difference between the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and a standard BMW 3 Series – a criticism we’d never level at the far more imposing (and expensive) 6 Series Gran Coupe.
That said, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is still a handsome machine in the metal, with the 4 Series’ wider rear axle helping boost the car’s planted stance.
For extra visual aggression and around £3,000, you can spec the M Sport pack, which adds a more aggressive bumper an standard 18-inch alloy wheels, plus a comprehensive revamp of the interior. If you want to stand out even further, 19-inch alloy wheels are a £670 option.
Perhaps the highest compliment we can pay the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, is that you’d never notice the extra 50kg of extra doors and slightly taller stance.
In short, it handles just like the 4 Series Coupe, which is to say very well indeed – if lacking the final word in excitement. Thanks to its 50:50 weight distribution and the same widened tracks as the 4 Series Coupe, the Gran Coupe exudes balance, while remaining flat and confidence-inspiring in fast direction changes.
As with all modern BMWs, the 4 Series Gran Coupe can be fitted with xDrive all wheel drive for around £1,700. The system adds around 80kg of weight and in turn slightly affects the car's efficiency. What I does bring, however, is huge amounts of grip and launch control like getaways. The torque split is 40:60 front to rear, so the Gran Coupe retains its driver-focused setup but with the added security of four-wheel drive.
The steering is light and communicative but Variable sport steering can be added as an option. In truth, it’s difficult to notice the system at work and it isn’t as direct as we’d like.
The range of engines mirrors the Coupe’s too, save for the fuel-sipping 418d variant, which has been included due to its fleet-friendly CO2 rating. Petrol fans are even better catered for, with the choice of 420i and 428i turbocharged four-cylinder engines and a flagship 435i six-cylinder also available at launch. If you’re not doing huge miles, the four-cylinder variants in particular are worth a look – they’re urgent and far more refined than the ‘default option’ diesels.
Based on the proven mechanicals of the BMW 3 Series Saloon, there’s nothing in the 4 Series range that should give cause for alarm. In fact, the current 3 Series came 14th in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
However, BMW has some slight catching up to do to beat its rivals on customer service: its 10th placed finish in our 2014 Driver Power survey fell behind Mercedes (9th) and also Jaguar and Lexus (4th and 2nd respectively). Audi, meanwhile, languished in 12th place.
Despite BMW stubbornly billing this car as a ‘coupe’, its four doors and hatchback boot make it a more usable proposition than you might expect. Instead of the 4 Series Coupe’s bootlid, the Gran Coupe uses a hatchback tailgate with automatic opening and closing as standard, giving a much larger loading aperture.
At 480 litres, the Gran Coupe’s boot is also 35 litres larger than that offered by the 4 Series Coupe - exactly the same size as the cargo area offered in the 3 Series Saloon. Even the car’s closest rival, the Audi A5 Sportback, can’t trump the BMW as it offers a 480-litre space.
Another oddity in the car’s specification is its ‘4+1’ seating arrangement. Essentially, there is a middle seat on the rear bench, but it’s raised above the other two to clear the transmission tunnel. When combined with that curving roofline, it’s left only as an emergency seat for children.
The extra practicality of the 4 BMW Series Gran Coupe represents great value for money when you consider that it’s priced identically to the 4 Series Coupe range.
It might be a big coupe lookalike, but the 4 Series Gran Coupe should serve up some supermini-sized running costs thanks to its two four-cylinder turbodiesel engines. According to BMW’s official figures, the 418d and 420d can record 63mpg and 60mpg respectively.
The 420d would be our choice as its extra torque endows this sporting saloon with some much-needed punch. That said, BMW’s diesels are rather noisy, so if you’re a fan of the black pump it’ll be worth waiting for the six-cylinder 430d and 435d Gran Coupe variants due soon.
BMW added the 418d option to the Gran Coupe range to cater for fleet buyers, with emissons as low as 118g/km. The 420d varaint is the predicted best seller and with a CO2 output at 124g/km as well as 184bhp on tap, it's a good compromise. The entry-level 420i petrol may have smoother power delivery but it can't compete when it comes to economy, at 149g/km and 44.1mpg.