BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe review
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe looks good, drives even better and has a surprisingly roomy boot. However, it’s not cheap and you may still be tempted by the slightly better value 3 Series saloon.
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What's not so good
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The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe was first introduced in 2013 and is still in its first generation. There was an update in 2017 which sharpened the looks, added the latest LED lights and managed to make the engines even more powerful without losing out on efficiency. The 4 Series Gran Coupe is similar in size and price to the Audi A5 Sportback.
Sit at the front and you’ll be most impressed by the quality of the build and just how solid everything feels. However, the design is a bit long in the tooth now and you’ll find a smarter-looking cabin in an Audi A5 Sportback for example. Other than the dark and gloomy look, the rest is pretty good – you won’t be hunting for different buttons as much as in a Mercedes C-Class.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe beats both Mercedes and Audi when it comes to infotainment systems – the iDrive fitted to the 4 Series Gran Coupe, put simply, is the best system currently on sale. You’ll love its speed and colorful graphics, but most importantly the shortcuts and menus are done in a way that would seem intuitive even if you are a self-confessed technophobe.
You’ll find that space in the front seats is more than enough, but what’s not so great is trying to fit in the back seats of the 4 Series Gran Coupe – thanks to the sloping roof and front seat positioning, you’re left with little headroom and not quite enough space for your feet so a 3 Series saloon might serve you better if you plan to have rear passengers frequently.
If you don’t, you’ll love how practical the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe can be. The boot is the same size as in the 3 Series saloon, but you get a huge hatchback-style opening which makes loading and unloading quicker and easier. Folding the rear seats also opens up as much space as some full-blown estate cars.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe is just as good to drive as the two-door Coupe but you get extra practicality as a bonus
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t quite have the broad engined choice of the 3 Series, but what you get is a bit like a greatest hits compilation. There’s the evergreen and fuel-efficient 420d, the all-rounder 430i, a couple of seriously rapid six-cylinders (430d and 435d), while the 440i making 326hp sits at the top of the 4 Series engine range.
No matter what engine you pick one thing is guaranteed – you’ll enjoy driving the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. It feels more stable at speed and has more grip in corners than equivalent Audi or Mercedes models. The 4 Series Gran Coupe, fitted with adaptive dampers, can also double as a comfortable motorway companion – it’s relaxed over bumps and the aerodynamic shape limits wind noise at high speeds. Go for an xDrive four-wheel-drive car and you get year-round grip for extra peace of mind in slippery conditions.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is ok in terms of safety, but far from impressive. Yes, it does have the essentials such as airbags and an advanced stability control system, but modern assists such as auto emergency braking, blind-spot alert or lane-keep assist are part of a fairly expensive optional package.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, despite the coupe in the name, is a pretty practical car. It’s a shame that there are some real shortcomings with the rear seat space
You'll love the great boot access but rear seats space is a bit disappointing
Let’s get one of the main things first – the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe has a great driving position that puts you as close as possible to the road thus adding a lot to the sporty feel of the car. That low-slung driving position also helps provide decent amounts of headroom and there’s a real broad range of adjustment to the seat. Sport models get the imaginatively called sport seats which have bigger side bolsters that do a great job of keeping you in place in tight corners.
Getting in the back seats does appear easier than in the coupe at first thanks to the extra set of doors but there are still disadvantages compared to a regular 3 Series saloon. It starts with the way you enter because the seats are positioned further back than what you expect so you end up falling into them. Once there, you’ll notice that you have very little room for your feet because there’s no space under the front seat and, if you’re over six-feet tall, your head might brush the roof. All in all, it’s perfectly fine for a couple of kids but a 3 Series saloon is much better for transporting adults in the back seats.
Now, if you don’t plan to constantly have a car full of passengers, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is the more-practical choice despite having the same 480-litre boot capacity as the 3 Series saloon. The main reason for that is the way the boot opens – the 3 Series saloon has a fairly narrow opening whereas the whole rear end of the 4 Series Gran Coupe lifts up, similarly to a hatchback, to reveal a square luggage area that can be loaded and unloaded with ease. Flip the rear seats down and, even if you don’t get a completely flat floor, the 1,300-litre capacity is enough to worry some estate cars.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe feels sporty to drive and – fitted with adaptive dampers – isn’t too bumpy on poor roads. It’s just that the entry-level diesel is way too noisy.
The 420d is the sensible pick even if it can't match the monster acceleration of the 435d or the sound of the 440i
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe has a nice selection of three diesel and two petrol engines for you to choose from. None of them are bad, so you can’t really make a poor choice – it all depends on the way you plan to use your 4 Series Gran Coupe.
The entry-level 420d is arguably the best all rounder. It makes 190hp and has a claimed fuel economy of 67mpg. The 2.0-litre diesel’s only drawback is how noisy it is – similar engines from Audi and Mercedes are much more quiet.
Pick the 174hp petrol 420i if you want the most hushed engine in the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe range, but you’d be better off stepping up to the 430i which uses the same engine but tuned to 252hp which gives the 4 Series Gran Coupe a more than decent turn of speed.
Plan to do lots of motorway miles? Go for one of the 3.0-litre diesel engines. The 430d is a fantastic blend of hot-hatch acceleration and diesel fuel economy, but the 435d is even better. The 435d comes with four-wheel drive as standard so you can make launch-control style getaways all year round – the 0-62mph time of the 435d is 4.8 seconds.
The top-spec petrol, the 440i, is actually a smidge slower than the 435d at 5.1 seconds, but it more than compensates with how it sounds. The 440i is the only six-cylinder petrol available for the 4 Series Gran Coupe and, yes, it’s not cheap, but you’d struggle to find an engine that better matches the character of the 4 Series Gran Coupe.
Out of the box, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is more fun to drive than cars such as the Audi A5 Sportback or Mercedes C-Class, thanks to its quick and accurate steering, minimal body lean and confidence-inspiring firm suspension.
That said, some choice picks from the options list – such as BMW’s Adaptive M Sport suspension – can make it even better. It allows you to set the suspension to Comfort or Sport, the former making it more cosseting on bumpy roads, while the latter stops the car leaning in corners. In its most aggressive Sport+ setting, you can even slide the car safe in the knowledge that the stability control system will step in if you get too sideways – if that’s your thing.
The 4 Series’ six-speed manual gearbox offers slick shifts and helps you feel more involved, but if you want a more relaxing driving experience then buy the eight-speed automatic that changes gear almost imperceptibly.
On the motorway, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, while pretty hushed, is still noisier than alternatives such as the Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class.
The Audi and Mercedes should also be a little bit safer. They were subjected to tougher crash-testing than the 2012 evaluation the BMW won five Euro NCAP stars for. The 4 Series gets all the basic safety kit you would expect as standard, including a full complement of airbags and stability control. However, active cruise control – which matches the speed of the car in front before returning to a preselected cruising speed – is a £620 option that needs to be specified with the £1,690 automatic gearbox. The self-drive functions offered by Audi and Mercedes aren’t available.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe has a cabin full of expensive materials but the overall design is not as exciting as in the A5 Sportback