Rather predictably or inevitably, considering their need to carve new niches, have BMW delivered unto the world a four-door variant of their 4 Series two-door model range. Called the 2014 BMW 4 Gran Coupé, it is a four-door coupé in a similar mould as its bigger brother, the 6 Gran Coupé: same sleek and alluring body with a dose of four-door practicality. However, unlike the four-door 6 Series, the 4 Series Gran Coupé sports an automated liftback tailgate, similar to what you would find hanging over the back of a 3 Gran Turismo, instead of a conventional sedan bootlid. Besides sporting two extra pair of doors, BMW says the 4 Series Gran Coupé is different from the standard two-door 4 Series Coupé from the A-pillars onwards to suit practical considerations. So does the new Gran Coupé have the substance to complement its style? We have a look at BMW's latest four-door coupe in Spain.
Key Specs: 2014 BMW 428i Gran Coupé
- Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
- Power: 245PS @ 5,000-6,500rpm
- Torque: 350Nm @ 1,250-4,800rpm
- Acceleration (0-100km/h): 6 seconds (claimed)
- Fuel consumption: 6.3L/100km (claimed combined)
What’s the difference? From its nose, there really isn’t anything to tell the 4 Series Gran Coupé apart from the standard two-door coupé, it is only once you start to peer past the front A-pillars that you see where the two models diverge. Not only are there an extra pair of doors, but BMW says the roofline has been raised by a mere 12mm, and more noticeably it stretches an additional 112mm longer. Those physical changes do translate to commodious rear quarters with generous amounts of legroom and headroom, which is enough for adults to enjoy a long journey behind in. That said, even though the 4 Gran Coupé retains its length and wheelbase, part of the 4 Series’ sleek profile has been lost to the slight growth in the dimensions of its upper portions. From certain angles, the new Gran Coupé looks elegant and eye-catching with its subtle lines and curves in the body, but from other angles, particularly the front three-quarters, it does look a little ungainly. The boot is also notably larger with 35 litres more boot space than the coupé, bringing it to a total 480 litres, which BMW says is about the same size as what you get in the 3-series sedan. Utilising the space in the boot however is far easier in the Gran Coupé than it is in the coupé and the 3 Series with its large liftback tailgate, allowing the loading of long and bulky items without breaking a sweat or a back.
How does it drive? For our test drive, we were given the keys to the 428i variant of the Gran Coupé with a 245PS 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged N20 engine producing 350Nm, coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Those who are familiar with their Bimmers, this is the same engine specification that you would find on the 328i and 428i. When it comes to the powertrain, there really isn’t anything to find fault about it. With maximum torque available from 1,250rpm all the way till 4,800rpm, the 428i pulls effortlessly and the eight ratios of the gearbox means that you will always find the right gear at any speed to exploit that generous powerband. All said and done, the 428i Gran Coupé is capable of going from 0 to 100km/h in six seconds flat, which is a mere 0.2 seconds off the pace of the standard coupé. Handling wise, the 4 Gran Coupé does make a case for itself if compared to the equivalent 3 Series sedan. The four-door 4 feels more confident and planted on the road than the regular F30, with less body roll in the corners. The seating position feels lower than the sedan as well, allowing you to drop the base of the seat till you are almost touching the floor. However, when compared to its two-door sibling, the Gran Coupé doesn’t feel quite as light and as nimble as the 428i coupé. There is a prevalent feeling as though the Gran Coupé is a little heavier over the rear axle, possibly due to its stretched roofline and heavy automated tailgate, but it isn’t as though that difference serves as a handicap for the 4 Gran Coupé. The 4 Gran Coupé is still a joy to drive with its accurate steering and acute balance.
How does it fare to the A5 Sportback? Four doors, a coupé shape, and a tailgate bootlid, it sounds as though the Gran Coupé has more things in common with a similarly-sized and similarly positioned four-door coupé, which is the Audi A5 Sportback. Discounting the fact that the A5 Sportback has been around for quite a number of years already, the newer 4 Gran Coupé certainly feels a lot more agile and rewarding to drive than the Audi. The engine on the BMW also delivers 20PS more power and is half a second quicker at hitting 100km/h from a standstill, that despite the A5 Sportback employing four-wheel drive and a snappy dual-clutch transmission. Furthermore it isn’t just in terms of straight line performance where the 4 Gran Coupé trounces the A5 Sportback, the BMW’s steering too delivers more feedback than at the helm of the Audi’s. The A5 Sportback would only etch out an advantage over the 4 Gran Coupé on really wet and slippery days, where its confidence-inspiring quattro four-wheel drive would leave the BMW easily behind in its wake.
Should you buy one? Opting for the 4 Gran Coupé isn’t so much a question of picking this over the 3 Series. Of course, the F30 will be cheaper and more practical for occupants with a taller roofline and more headroom inside, but the 4 Gran Coupé is made for those who have a little bit more cash to spend on something a bit more special than your run-of-the-mill four-door sedan or two-door coupé. It is better to drive than an A5 Sportback and from certain angles, better looking as well. Yes, the 4 Gran Coupé isn’t quite as sharp as its coupé sibling, but if I’m honest, the differences doesn’t really matter unless you are a professional race driver, or cane it along testing roads on an hourly basis. What you need to know is that does drive better than the equivalent 3 Series sedan, and it is a whole lot more practical than the two-door 4 Series while retaining much of the 4-series' dynamics, and that in itself is a good enough reason to justify its place in the grand scheme of things. Interested in buying a BMW? Head over to Carlist.my for BMW car listings in Malaysia.