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We drive the second generation of BMW’s posh hatchback on UK roads
Autocar
23 November 2021

What is it?

It’s the second generation of BMW’s four-door version of the two-door version of a four-door car.

The 4 Series Gran Coupé might have seemed like a strange concept when it first came out and the jury is still out on whether it merits the term ‘coupé’, but fact is that enough people were seduced by the original’s combination of coupé looks and near-estate practicality. As there’s a new 3 Series and a new 4 Series, it was only natural that there would be a new 4 Series Gran Coupé. 

Like its siblings, the Gran Coupé has grown significantly compared with its predecessor: it’s 143mm longer, 27mm wider and 53mm taller. In fact, it’s a bit bigger in every direction than even the 3 Series. Although its luggage capacity is 10 litres smaller than a 3 Series saloon's, the hatchback does make it a much more practical proposition. The sloping tailgate means that owners of large but claustrophobic dogs will still want to go for an estate, though.

The floor is also not completely flat and having D-pillars that need to house hinges and lifters for the electric tailgate introduce some pretty big blind spots.

What's it like?

You enter the Gran Coupé’s cabin using trendy flush door handles not found on the regular 4 Series, although you can bet your house that come facelift time, all 4s will have them. Once inside, it’s familiar territory because the front-seat area is the same as in any other 3 or 4 Series. You can accuse BMW’s interior designers of a lack of creativity, but when it’s this good, it’s hardly worth dwelling on.

The 4 Series doesn’t come in any of the base trim levels, so it’s always quite plush, too. Every Gran Coupé is an M Sport, with heated leather sport seats, a big iDrive screen, digital dashboard and three-zone climate control all standard. 

In the rear, it trades the coupé’s individual buckets for a regular bench that folds in a 40:20:40 split. Passengers taller than six-foot will find their hair brushing the headlining and leg room is typically tight.

The engine range is a little less extensive than with the 3 Series too, with no 418 models, and also no 430d. What’s left is a duo of four-cylinder petrol engines with rear-wheel drive, the 420i and 430i; one mild-hybrid diesel, the 420d, which can be had with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive; and the straight-six M440i xDrive, which also has a 48V mild-hybrid system.

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BMW reckons the 420i will be the biggest retail seller, but having driven both it and the 420d, we reckon the added mid-range torque and impressive fuel economy of the diesel suit the Gran Coupé better, being a mildly sporting family car rather than a sports car. The diesel is still very refined and the way the mild-hybrid system can shut down the engine as you brake to a stop is slick.

With 197bhp and 295lb ft of torque, the 420d can get to 62mph in 7.3sec. The xDrive version I drove is slightly slower, taking 7.6sec, because its additional weight more than cancels out the traction advantage in the dry. The four-wheel drive system is nicely balanced. Most of the time, you wouldn’t know it’s there, but in slippery conditions, it resolutely resists breaking traction. On a 420d, in the UK, it’s ultimately overkill but nice to have if you plan on visiting snowy, hilly places often.

True to its sporting, almost-coupé character, the low-speed ride is relatively firm, even in the Comfort mode of the adaptive suspension and on non-runflat 19in tyres. It’s a fair compromise, because it’s not uncomfortable and the car feels planted through the corners, with pleasantly meaty steering that will even feed back some information about grip levels. 

Should I buy one?

A 4 Series Gran Coupé is about £1000 more expensive than a two-door coupé, which itself is more expensive than both the 3 Series Saloon and Touring. On list price, then, it’s hard to make a rational case for the Gran Coupé.

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But that was also the case with the previous generation, and it didn’t stop it from outselling the two-door. It’s a similar story with the Audi A5 Coupé and Sportback. Clearly, the Germans have found a way to make the humble five-door hatchback sexy, the attraction of swoopy styling with some added practicality proving hard to resist.

It certainly helps that the rest of the car is the same impressive package we know and love from the 3 Series.

Join the debate

Comments
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harf 23 November 2021

So the Gran Coupe is taller than the 3-series - what utter nonsense. Shame as I'm a sucker for a 5 door coupe, assuming it has the H point of the coupe variant.  This is just a more expensive 3-series hatchback.

btw regarding scrappage, I think some people forget that there are 20 million cars on our roads with just maybe 250,000 new EVs being registered a year (guessing). ICE cars are going to be here a long, long time yet. A lot of people still drive round in 10yo cars, not because they are anti-EV, they just can't afford a newer one. I can't see that changing door many years yet. 

Bimfan 23 November 2021

As you say, probably a little premature. I can't see many private buyers buying a brand new BMW next year, probably involving a PCP with GMFV, and keeping it for eight years.

Busineeses are also on thrre or four year change cycles with their vehicles, so this will definitely be on its second or third owner by 2030. 

That's probably more of an issue for used car buyers, than for those buying new in the next few years, as second hand IC vehicle prices will likely drop like a stone, when all new cars sold are EV's.

Just Saying 23 November 2021
My thinking maybe premature however, it seems astonishing to think that this actual car will probably be part of a scrapage scheme.
As we know, 2030 sees the ban of new combustion cars being sold. Will anyone hazard a guess on the banning date for new cars - registered before 2030 - being turfed off our roads?
Aren't we going to see 100's of thousands of cars like this Beemer getting scrapped?
Furthermore, I'm not sure I'd walk into a dealership early next year and order this or any other new car without this date being known...
Overdrive 23 November 2021
A little too soon to say if cars like this might be a candidate for a scrappage scheme of some kind in the near future.

Could be the situation goes the other way and the gradual reduction of used Ice cars actually helps drive the demand for them and it raises their values.

Just Saying 23 November 2021
We're soon to living in interesting times methinks Overdrive. One thing is for sure, there'll be hefty winners and disgruntled looses.