Zany German tuning house applies additional power to the heaviest M4. Huh?
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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
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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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