First Drive

2014 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe review

The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is meant to be a more stylish alternative to the 3 Series, and more practical than the two-door 4 Series. Does it have a place or is it a niche too far?

Words ByJohn McIlroy

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The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is an attempt by the German manufacturer to open up a new niche: the four-door coupe. The third and final variant in the 4 Series range, the Gran Coupe is the same length, width and height as the two-door coupe - but it gets an extra pair of doors, a longer roof and a hatchback that are designed to improve rear headroom and boot access. Depending on which way you approach it, therefore, it's either a more style-focused alternative to a 3 Series, or a more practicality-focused version of the 4 Series Coupe.

The line-up comprises three petrol engines and two diesels to start with; the most efficient model will be the 418d Gran Coupe, which should deliver CO2 emissions of 121g/km (with either the six-speed manual gearbox or the optional eight-speed auto). The petrol options are the six-cylinder turbocharged 435i and the four-cylinder turbocharged 420i and 428i; it's the second of those motors that we're testing here.

Two more diesels - the 430d and 435d - will join the range in the summer, and BMW's xDrive four-wheel-drive system will be offered on the 420i petrol and all diesels bar the 418d.

What's the 2014 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe like to drive?

The Gran Coupe is just as good on the road as a regular two-door 4 Series - and that's pretty good. Our car came on optional adaptive dampers (Β£750), which makes for a ride comfort that's on the firm side of compliant but is never really uncomfortable, while the steering is light and direct enough for you to take full advantage of the excellent body control and composure. It's a much more involving car to drive than one of its few direct rivals, the Audi A5 Sportback.

The 245bhp engine has enough poke to allow rapid progress, even on twisty roads. The optional eight-speed automatic gearbox helps with this, thanks to intelligent shifts when you're allowing it to make the decisions and fast responses when you switch to the 'manual' paddles behind the steering wheel.

BMW's engineers have taken on board criticism of the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine - in particular its noise, which has fallen some way short of the appeal of the six-cylinder units that used to carry the '28i' badging. They've resorted to a semi-electronic solution, with modifications to the exhaust system assisted further by sound processing that's transmitted through the car's speakers.

The good news is that the set-up works surprisingly well. It sounds a little artificial at lower revs, but beyond 4000rpm you can actually (whisper this) enjoy the sound. Get stuck into a winding B-road with the 428i Gran Coupe in Sport mode and you could easily forget you're in a turbocharged four-cylinder car – and that's quite an achievement, by our reckoning.

Should you decide you don't want to hear the motor, sticking the 428i Gran Coupe into Comfort mode tones down the volume of the exhaust noise and sound synthesis, so that it is easily drowned out by wind noise and road rumble on the motorway.

What's the 2014 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe like inside?

The front of the cabin is the same as that in the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible, basically. It's nicely laid out, with dense, soft-touch materials in all the key areas, with solid switches that feel durable. The infotainment system is controlled by BMW's excellent iDrive dial between the front seats.

You shouldn't find too many problems getting comfortable, because there's excellent adjustment on the steering wheel and the driver's seat. It's worth remembering, though, that this car is based on a coupe, so you'll notice the lower seating position the first time you fall down into the cabin. Getting back out definitely requires a little more effort than it does in a regular 3 Series saloon.

The rear accommodation is odd, because there's more than enough knee- and legroom for a pair of six-footers to sit behind similarly sized adults, but you'd barely travel a few hundred metres before they'd be complaining about headroom. The extended roof does improve the rear space over the coupe's, therefore, but it's still not as good as that in a regular 3 Series; this is very much a style-focused offering.

The boot capacity is 480 litres; that's a modest 35 litres up on the coupe's, and about the same as a regular 3 Series. Fold down the 60/40 split rear seats and the capacity increases to a more impressive 1300 litres. In real-world terms that's enough seats-up space for four overnight cases, or (just about) three full-size suitcases.

The trim levels are basically the same as you'll find in the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible – SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport. Every version gets front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, DAB radio, 6.5in colour screen, dual-zone air-conditioning and cruise control. One notable addition to the Gran Coupe's kit list is an electrically operated rear hatch on all versions, and you can also choose an optional system that allows you to open the hatch by waving your foot under the rear bumper.

Should I buy one?

We can see why you would. With the 4 Series Gran Coupe, BMW has succeeded in making another niche model that has real appeal – and a feel that's distinct from its close relatives. If you value style over out-and-out practicality, but do want easier access to the rear seats, then this car fits your brief more than the 3 Series or 4 Series Coupe.

We wouldn't necessarily recommend the 428i variant, mind you. It's great fun, with a smooth power delivery and the surprisingly effective treatment of its engine noise, but you'd be lucky to crack 40mpg with it in everyday use and it wouldn't be the cheapest company car option either.

Still, we've seen more than enough promise here to whet our appetite for a long journey in one of the diesel editions. BMW's boffins believe the UK will join China, America and Germany as one of this car's biggest markets; we think they may have a point.

What Car? says...


Audi A5 Sportback

BMW 3 Series

BMW 428i Gran Coupe SE Engine size 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Price from Β£32,820 (manual), Β£34,335 (auto)
Power 245bhp
Torque 280lb ft
0-62mph 6.1 seconds (manual), 6.0 seconds (auto)
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 42.8mpg (manual), 44.8mpg (auto)
CO2 154g/km (manual), 147g/km (auto)

BMW 420i Gran Coupe SE
Engine size 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Price from Β£29,425
Power 182bhp
Torque 199lb ft
0-62mph 7.5 seconds
Top speed 147mph
Fuel economy 44.1mpg
CO2 149g/km

BMW 435i Gran Coupe SE specification
Engine size 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Price from Β£41,165
Power 302bhp
Torque 295lb ft
0-62mph 5.5 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 34.9mpg
CO2 189g/km

BMW 418d Gran Coupe SE
Engine size 2.0-litre turbodiesel
Price from Β£30,995
Power 141bhp
Torque 236lb ft
0-62mph 9.2 seconds
Top speed 132mph
Fuel economy 61.4mpg
CO2 121g/km

BMW 420d Gran Coupe SE
Engine size 2.0-litre turbodiesel
Price from Β£31,795
Power 182bhp
Torque 280lb ft
0-62mph 7.7 seconds
Top speed 147mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg
CO2 124g/km

BMW 430d Gran Coupe Luxury
Engine size 3.0-litre turbodiesel
Price from Β£39,745
Power 255bhp
Torque 413lb ft
0-62mph 5.6 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 55.4mpg
CO2 134g/km

BMW 435d xDrive Gran Coupe Luxury specification
Engine size 3.0-litre turbodiesel
Price from Β£44,545
Power 309bhp
Torque 465lb ft
0-62mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 50.4mpg
CO2 146g/km