What is it? The latest BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé is a refreshed version of the four-door coupe first seen in 2014.
Key features: Chassis and interior improvements, styling tweaks, more equipment.
Our view: The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé offers all the best aspects of the 3 Series saloon in a more stylish, better-equipped package.
Type of review: Taster test
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé is a product of the increasingly niche marketing indulged in by upmarket manufacturers. In 2013, BMW separated out its 3 Series two-door coupé models from the four-door saloons and called them the 4 Series.
Then in 2014, a five-door version of the coupé shape arrived, complete with tailgate instead of boot, primarily to rival the highly successful Audi A5 Sportback. And it worked – today the Gran Coupé takes half of all 4 Series sales, the rest split equally between the Coupé and the Convertible.
Early in 2017, the Gran Coupé benefited from improvements applied across the 4 Series range. The styling has had a minor revamp, the cabin has been upgraded and there are suspension improvements and more equipment.
Styling and Powertrain
The 4 Series Gran Coupé scores immediately on its visuals – it is just about the most attractive model that BMW produces. While measuring 23mm higher than the Coupé to ensure the rear doors open up space that an adult can sit in, it still retains a much more elegant, sweeping profile compared to the 3 Series. Bespoke elements such as the frameless doors ensure that the car turns heads even when parked.
Changes made to the 2017 version merely add to the appeal, particularly to the front end. This has a larger air intake while slim twin LED headlamps are now standard. Together with a ride height 30mm under that of a 3 Series, the result is a car that looks wide and purposeful as it approaches in the rear-view mirror.
The driver’s surroundings will be familiar to any 3 Series driver. The dash controls work well, though the large handbrake lever seems a little old-tech and dominant.
Rear-seat passengers will likely be more comfortable in a 3 Series, though space is more generous than the strongly sloping roofline of the Gran Coupé might suggest. Mind you an adult won’t want to travel far in the middle rear seat.
Engine options for the 4 Series Gran Coupé range across three petrol units, with either 184, 252 or 326hp, and three diesels offering 190, 258 or 313hp. With evidence of sliding diesel popularity, The Car Expert tried the lowest-powered but also most popular petrol option, the 420i.
Our car also comes supplied with the xDrive all-wheel-drive transmission – also an option with all three diesel engines. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the range but optional is an eight-speed auto with sequential manual shifts and steering wheel paddles. Choose the auto ‘box and it slightly improves the fuel economy.
On the road
Of necessity, our road test of the Gran Coupe included a trip from Scotland to Wales of more than 300 miles, including trawling hundreds of miles of motorway.
It was a very easy run – the car cruises with superb refinement, its engine almost silent in operation while not lacking in brisk acceleration for overtaking. Admittedly it’s not the most potent powertrain – there are two larger options for those who want more power, but it is an excellent all-rounder.
Rear-wheel-drive BMWs have always been renowned for their finely placed cornering ability through excellently-weighted steering and the all-wheel-drive form adds an extra level of grip. The car is easy to place, and road bumps or dips fail to unsettle it – ride comfort is exemplary.
The Gran Coupé comes in SE, Sport, or M Sport trim levels and equipment levels on all are extensive. Even entry level models get satellite navigation, Bluetooth, DAB radio, cruise control, LED head and tail lamps, front and rear parking sensors, heated seats and BMW Connected, which offers a range of online assistance services.
Also included is the Drive Performance Control (DCP) driver aid. This offers Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport modes, changing steering, throttle and suspension accordingly.
On Sport versions of the car, the DPC adds a ‘Sport+’ mode that among other things disconnects the Dynamic Stability Control – not something we tried in the middle of a Welsh monsoon…
Other notables on our mid-level Sport include 18-inch alloy wheels, a natty leather steering wheel and a function that changes the instrument panel lighting to a fiery red when you select Sport on the DPC.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé provides the perfect answer to the view that for a premium car, there are just too many 3 Series around today. The Gran Coupe looks much more stylish, yet retains almost the same levels of practicality, and is very easy to live with while offering satisfactory levels of performance. We would choose this over its saloon sister every time.
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé – key specifications
Model tested: BMW 420i xDrive Sport Gran Coupe
On sale: May 2017 (facelift version)
Price: £34,910 (Range starts £33,110)
Engine: 1998cc petrol, 184hp, 290Nm
0-62mph and max speed: 7.8 sec, 145mph
Economy and emissions: 40.9mpg, 161g/km
Key rivals: Audi A5 Sportback, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Lexus RC
Test date: August 2017