When BMW announced it was shuffling its car lineup -- for example, splitting the 3 Series into the 3 Series (4-doors) and 4 Series (2-doors) -- it seemed that understanding what vehicle would wear which badge would be easy. Then the Gran Coupes came along. Even though they have four doors, they are aligned with the coupes in the line. Therefore, BMW's Gran Coupes are the 6 Series instead of the 5 and the 4 Series, the newest in the line, instead of being a 3 Series.
Four-door coupes have the sloping roofline of a coupe, with the convenience of a sedan's extra doors. Why would 4-doors be considered coupes? Look at the trend that started when Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLS. Later, Volkswagen offered the Passat CC, Audi brought the A7, and BMW joined the fray with its 6 Series Gran Coupe. The 4-door coupe has been a success, so BMW has introduced the same type of vehicle on a smaller scale.
When the 2015 4 Series Gran Coupe first goes on sale in mid-June, the 428i xDrive model will come with BMW's 2.0-liter inline-4, augmented with a twin-scroll turbocharger for an overall output of 240 horsepower. That engine will only be backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission, with either rear drive or all-wheel drive. In September 2014, the rear-drive-only 435i Gran Coupe will go on sale, with a twin-scroll-turbocharged 300-horsepower 3.0-liter inline-6. These models expand BMW's line of 4-door coupes, and as of right now, the closest direct competitor to the 4 Series Gran Coupe is the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, but coupe fans may also be interested.
More Than Just Good Looks
The 4 Series Gran Coupe is a beautiful vehicle, but the car benefits from some practicality because of the decision to go to this design. The roofline is higher than in the 4 Series, which improves headroom for rear-seat passengers -- and the Gran Coupe has room for five people as opposed to four in the regular coupe. The Gran Coupe is also more accommodating when it comes to carrying gear. With the seats up, it can carry the same amount of cargo as the 3 Series sedan (17 cubic feet), but because the Gran Coupe is a hatchback, you can fold down the rear seats and create nearly 46 cubic feet of cargo space. And the hatch opening is nice and wide, making it much easier to get large boxes into the back.
The Long and Winding Road
You might think that a 3700-pound vehicle would feel sluggish, but that is far from the case here. The turbo four proved to be an excellent engine, with no noticeable turbo lag and plenty of power. The 8-speed automatic transmission behind it is also terrific, and the pair makes the 4-door coupe scoot along. Acceleration and passing power were impressive. BMW estimates that the 428i reaches 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and the 435i does it in 4.9. We know the inline-6 offers 60 more horsepower, but from our time with the 428i xDrive Gran Coupe, you wouldn't need to spend extra for the six to be happy with the car.
On twistier roads, the Gran Coupe feels a lot like a BMW 3 or 4 Series: the handling is fantastic, and the chassis is well sorted. The Gran Coupe is well planted and confident in turns and the front/rear balance is excellent; that combination would encourage anyone to drive enthusiastically. The down side is that the ride was firm in the car we drove, letting in more road irregularities and making it a bit less comfortable on the highway.
There are four driving modes: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Eco Pro is the mode for people who want to get the best possible fuel economy. It also feels like it reduces the power output and adjusts the timing of when the transmission shifts. Comfort was a good combination of sportiness and smooth response. Put it in either Sport mode, and the Gran Coupe seems to tighten up; shifts are quicker, throttle response is more immediate.
For 2015, BMW's newest 4 Series starts at $41,225 and can cost over $65,000 for a fully kitted 435i. That is within the same basic price range as a 2014 4 Series coupe. Mercedes-Benz's CLA is priced much lower to start, at under $31,000, but tops out at over $72,000 with all the boxes checked. BMW's Gran Coupe is a more practical purchase than it seems, but will also satisfy buyers who are drawn to it for impractical reasons.
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