- Coupé-like styling
- Good to drive
For some strange reason, car designers have until recently largely steered away from big cars with hatchbacks.
While estate cars have boomed, SUVs surged and smaller saloons with opening tailgates have proved ultra popular, the formula has seldom been adopted for executive models.
Sure, there are exceptions – the ill-fated Renault Avantime, the exotic Reliant Scimitar, albeit both 3-door, and more recently the elegant Audi A7 are models that come to mind.
One of the best current examples of blending 5-door practicality with flowing lines and sports car performance is BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupé – a prestige middle-weight that’s just as capable of crossing continents in comfort as ferrying a departing offspring and possessions to uni.
Design and Practicality
Now in its second generation, this latest version is typically a tad wider and longer with more generous accommodation, yet nothing has been lost in terms of driveability.
Now sporting the mega-grille – a love-it or loathe it element, I will give you – it is a handsome beast with less boxy contours than the 3 Series on which it is based.
The extra centimetres that give it a sizeable 4.8m length, which is barely noticeable from the driving seat but will be appreciated by passengers, particularly those in the rear who now have noticeable greater legroom.
The sloping roof inevitably robs rear seat passengers of a little headroom. The rear seats themselves are designed for three passengers rather than two, which is a sensible and practical move.
Boot space has been boosted to 470 litres (10 litres greater than the saloon) with the rear seats in place, which is more generous than most rivals. This grows to 1,290 litres when the rear seats are folded down.
Equipment and Technology
Cabin build and quality is up to the usual high BMW standards with a large touchscreen centre stage and high grade, positive controls.
Noise levels within the cabin are muted, the engine being a distant murmur. Most sound intrusion comes from the low profile tyres on certain road surfaces.
Engine and Performance
As with most BMW models, there is a wide spread of engines, starting with the 2.0-litre petrol 420i, which we drive here, and going up to the mighty M440i with 374bhp. There is also a diesel 2.0-litre.
Cornering, via rear-wheel-drive, is stable and predictable with levels of adhesion that few drivers are likely to reach. A four-wheel-drive system is available as an optional extra.
Steering is precise and pleasantly light without losing road-feel. There is little body roll and the ride is composed yet still manages to soak up most bumps and all but the worst pot-holes.
184bhp sounds quite useful, but by BMW standards it is a starting point in the performance stakes, hence acceleration is adequate rather than thrilling. But it is at long distance cruising and swallowing up the miles effortlessly that the Gran Coupé comes into its own.
It is no gas guzzler, easily being capable of clocking 40-plus mpg. Our best was 46mpg over a gentle A-road country run. Around town, the mid-thirties were the norm.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe has proved a definite hit for BMW, with it outselling the two-door Coupé by 2 to 1, so do not get the idea it is just a 3 Series with a hatchback. The mix of style and performance is and has proven a hit with buyers, as it blends the best of both worlds in a typically refined and good to drive BMW.