So, you really dig the look of the BMW 4 Series, which is really a two-door 3 Series, but need an extra pair of doors? Then you might want to know about the 4 Series Gran Coupé.
- Distinctive styling
- Effortless performance
- Comfortable interior with understated elegance
- Some more attention to sculpting interior panels might produce a bit more cargo space
- Tapered roofline means rear-seat passengers need to take care entering car
- Is there really white space in the market between the 3 Series Gran Tourismo and the 4 Series Gran Coupé?
See, where the 3 Series is just a bit too sedan-like to truly be cool, the 4 Series GranCoupé blends the coupe’s rakish roofline and stubby trunk lid with a pair of doors for the rear seat.
At this point, many of you are thinking “So it’s a sedan. What’s the big deal?”
You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, and BMW has proven to be a master of providing very subtle product distinctions. The difference may be small, but to many buyers, it’s enough. And to my eyes, the slight revision in the roofline and trunk lid creates the most attractive four-door 3-cum-4 Series yet.
Also distinguishing itself from the sedan is the hatch-style rear door that opens wide to provide a gaping access to the cargo space. It doesn’t necessarily grow the cargo space, but it does make getting stuff into it easier, particularly if you have folded the rear seats.
Don’t buy the distinction? That’s OK. No shame in liking the sedan, since BMW wants to sell those, too.
Attached to the hatchback door is a cargo cover that extends to the rear seatbacks to keep your stuff out of sight.
The 4 Series GranCoupé comes in two variants, the 428i with a 241-horsepower TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder and the 435i, which features a 300-horsepower TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and both are available with all-wheel drive.
The base price is $44,900 for the 428i and $54,900 for the 435i. All-wheel drive is a $4,100 option on the 428i and a $700 option on the 435i.
…the stiffer suspension setting can make the car a bit skittish around a bumpy turn, but it offers loads of grip and very precise steering input.
An axiom that has long gone by the wayside used to say that if you could afford it, you could afford the gas to run it. And while that may still be true, even people who can afford it don’t want to afford the gas. So now, even BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and other carmakers building cars for people with more money than most drivers are keenly focused on fuel economy.
The 4-Series is no exception. BMW employs a number of technologies to reduce fuel consumption, starting with direct injection, double-VANOS valve-timing technology, VALVETRONIC valve-lifting technology (instead of a throttle plate, the engine varies the amount of valve lift to vary the power generated by the engine), a twin-scroll turbo (TwinPower Turbo is not to be confused with Twin Turbo) that provides substantial boost under hard acceleration but less or none at cruising and an auto-stop feature that, under the right circumstances, shuts off the engine when stopped at a light and instantly restarts it when you’re ready to go.
Another feature in BMWs is regenerative braking. While this is typically a feature for hybrids, BMW is also using the otherwise-lost kinetic energy of braking to charge the battery. This allows the alternator to reduce its load on the engine, helping not only to save fuel but also to help the engine deliver all its power to acceleration at times. The alternator will kick in when needed to make up for what the regen braking may lack.
The results are impressive fuel economy numbers. The official numbers are 10.5 l/100km city and 7.0 highway for the four-cylinder and 11.5 and 7.4 for the six-cylinder. The 435i xDrive is rated for 11.8 city and 7.8 highway. My average with mostly city driving, in the 435i xDrive, was 11.8 l/100km, achieved without any heroic effort to save fuel.
Having driven the four-cylinder as installed in the 3 Series, I would lean toward the six. Not because the four isn’t powerful enough: That 241 horsepower also comes with the kick of 258 pound-feet of torque. It is plenty creditable as a BMW mill. It just doesn’t sound like it. But the inline six has a very pleasing, very throaty exhaust note. You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in opting to save the $10,000 difference between engines, just go in with your eyes, or make that ears, open.
…BMW has proven to be a master of providing very subtle product distinctions. The difference may be small, but to many buyers, it’s enough. And to my eyes, the slight revision in the roofline and trunk lid creates the most attractive four-door 3-cum-4 Series yet.
What I do miss in the 4 Series GranCoupé, however, is BMW’s fantastic manual transmission. While you can get the stick in a coupe and in the 428i without xDrive, you can’t get it with a stick or with all-wheel drive. BMW makes an exceptionally fun-to-drive stick that snicks through the gears with Germanic precision, so it’s unfortunate it’s not here.
Perhaps to make up for it, on the tester, at least, the eight-speed automatic offers a launch-control mode: put the car into Sport+, the shifter into S, your left foot on the brake and your right foot briefly flooring the gas and holding at 2,000 rpm. Take your left foot off the brake while the checkered flag is showing and the car automatically provides an optimal launch. This isn’t something you should do during break-in, nor is it something you should do very often: According to the manual, it does stress the car considerably.
Some interesting features: turn the car off and the engine will stop, but everything else remains on until you get out and lock the car. Both turn-signal and wiper stalks operate without hard detents. To lane-change, take the turn-signal stalk to the first detent but not past it. You’ll get three flashes. For turns, push the stalk past the first detent: the signal will stay on until cancelled by the wheel, but the stalk returns to the centre position. Same with the wiper stalk: one push up turns the wipers on to the first speed, pushing up twice selects the faster speed. Both times, the stalk returns to centre. (Push down for a mist sweep of the wipers.)
Also of note are the sport and comfort settings to the left of the gear shifter. Eco, Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ are your choices. This control varies not only engine throttle mapping (very relaxed in Eco and Eco Pro, somewhat less relaxed in Comfort and very direct in Sport and Sport+), it also varies suspension settings between soft and floaty in the first three and very stiff and very responsive, perhaps too stiff and too responsive, in Sport and Sport+. Sport+ reduces the intervention of the electronic stability nannies, and you can turn them off altogether.
Sport and Sport+ provide the stiffest of two suspension settings: the stiffer setting can make the car a bit skittish around a bumpy turn, but it offers loads of grip and very precise steering input. Steering is also aided by variable rate steering, which dials in larger amounts of steering relative to the turning of the steering wheel at high angles, such as for parking or emergency swerves, and less steering for lower angles, such as winding roads or lane changes. Best of all, even though it’s electric, the steering feedback remains excellent. There’s no video-game feeling here.
2015 BMW 435I GRAN COUPE XDRIVE Specs:
Engines: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder; 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder
Power: 241 hp @ 5,000 to 6,500 r.p.m. (I4); 300 hp @ 5,800 to 6,400 r.p.m. (I6)
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,450 to 4,800 r.p.m. (I4); 300 lb-ft @ 1,300 to 5,000 r.p.m.
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Brakes: four-wheel discs with ABS, brake-force distribution and automatic brake-disc drying (lightly applies brakes periodically when wipers are on to keep discs dry)
Fuel economy: 10.7 l/100 km city; 7 l/100km highway (428i); 10.6 city; 7.2 highway (428i xDrive); 11.4 highway, 7.4 city (435i); 11.8 city, 7.8 highway (435i xDrive).
Price: $44,900 (428i) to $55,600 (435i xDrive), base MSRP.
As tested: 435i xDrive ($55,600), premium package ($4,900, includes alarm, universal remote, comfort access, rear-view camera, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, lumbar support, park distance control, adaptive headlights, on-board navigation, SiriusXM satellite, HarmonKardon sound system; M Performance Package ($1,900, includes 19-in. light alloy wheels, M Sport Brake, Adaptive M Suspension, variable sport steering; ConnectedDrive Services Prof with ARTTI ($500, includes BMW online, advanced real-time traffic information, concierge services, remote services, Internet, BMW Connected Drive package; head-up display ($1,500), metallic paint ($895), speed limit info ($350).