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The Top Gear car review:BMW 4 Series Coupe/Gran Coupe
For:Clean yet powerful engines, sophisticated suspension, classy looks
Against:Gristly manual gearbox, unexceptional interior, expensive options
428i Sport 2dr Auto
Fun to drive, handsome, versatile, if cramped in the back. If that suits, don’t fret about BMW’s confusing range.
Another micro-niche from the prolific Germans. What’s the point of this one? Paul Horrell reports
What we say:
An excellent sports-inclined saloon becomes a slightly sportier coupe - now in four-door guise too
What is it?
The number 4 is a new one for BMW. But don’t be deceived, because really this is the new 3-Series Coupe. The 4 is wider and has a lower centre of gravity than the car it replaces, meaning it’s actually more koop-ish than ever, and up to 45kg lighter. Although it’s based on the 3-Series saloon (with a couple of doors removed, of course), it’s been fiddled with so it behaves in a more sporty manner than the four-door 3.
As, indeed, does the… um, four-door 4, the 4-Series Gran Coupe. Blurred boundaries be dammed: if Audi can make hay with the A5 Sportback coupe-hatch, reckons BMW, then why not us?
We’ve already touched on the clues: less weight, wider track, lower centre of gravity. All of which are good news when faced with an empty road. The 4 relishes them.
The steering has been sharpened versus the 3-Series saloon, to which you can add a variable system with adaptive ride. We’d recommend doing so. Then pop it into Sport mode, where it feels instantly attentive. Whether you’re making a tight turn or going through a fast corner, the nose always feels in sync with your wrists. It smoothes over lumps and rarely loses its temper when the road bucks or ripples. There’s no limited-slip diff, but unless you find yourself on a track, you’re unlikely to notice. The 4GC isn’t as incisive, as you may expect, but there’s not much in it. As for engines, the range kicks off with a 181bhp four-cylinder diesel, from which you can expect mid-60s mpg on a careful cruise. There are 2.0-litre turbo petrols with 181bhp and 242bhp, a twin turbo 3.0-litre petrol with 306bhp and a pair of six-cylinder diesels with 252bhp and 309bhp. Plus an eight-speed auto – one of the best out there (and far better than the notchy manual).
On the inside
The front seats could give you more of a squeeze, as could the two in the back. But after a while it doesn’t matter – you sit low, steering wheel just where you want it, head-up display keeping you focused. You sit higher in the 4GC, but frameless doors front and back add back some cool. Both share a 3-Series cabin, so the steering wheel is round and there’s a proper handbrake. And the widescreen satnav display renders landmarks and buildings in 3D.
A 420d SE is a fine all-rounder that costs £32,495, in either coupe and Gran Coupe guise –BMW doesn’t differentiate on price. But be picky with options – the upgraded satnav is a no-brainer, but others will swallow your wallet without greatly improving the experience. They’ll eat into the otherwise excellent predicted retained values, too. You have been warned…
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