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Test Drive: BMW 420i Gran Coupe: A stylish improved access

BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe Aventurinrot


Despite the current huge popularity of SUVs, the Gran Coupé bodywork remains popular in the BMW range. Ingress is easier than with a 2 door-coupe body even though it is less practical than a good old 4-door saloon. True, this 5-door design lends the car a racy and sporty style that fits rather well the Munich brand’s DNA. However, let’s not get carried away : the 420i tested here does not claim to be a sportscar but it is far from being a lacklustre car.

The new 4 Series Gran Coupe is like all new cars : grown up, more mature and inevitably bigger. At 4.78m long, 1.85m wide and 1.44m high, it is 14.3cm longer, 2.7cm wider and 5.3cm higher than the model it replaces. It is a meaner car too as its tracks have grown by 5 cm at the front and 2.9 cm at the rear. The wheelbase increased by 4.6 cm. As far as boot volume is concerned, the new Gran Coupe offers 370 litres, about 39 litres more than the previous generation. This 4 Series GC is pretty seductive and alluring, as well as being much more practical than its 2 door coupe sibling.

I like it

BMW interiors are usually attractive and well-appointed, just don’t be too fussy about plastics, especially if they are located away from your eyeves and hands. The driver’s seat adjustments are well thought out and it’s very easy to find your ideal driving position, however tall you are. This is a stylish car but to enjoy it as much as possible, we wouldn’t recommend the M Sport trim : its firmer chassis is verging on the harsh and degrades comfort without really bringing any efficiency benefits. In the back, there’s slightly more space than before but the central seat is useless.

Quite clever

The 420i is the « basic » version, powered by a small 2.0 four-cylinder engine producing 184 hp and boasting 300 Nm. It is rather quiet and smooth. On the road, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is unflappable. Its well sorted and precise front end is a real asset to take any bend with alacrity. Once in the curve, no fussing about is needed, just let the car follow it : its impressive stability and lateral grip combined to a high quality ride will do the rest.

I don’t like it

The steering could offer more feeling through the steering wheel… if only to match the chassis high grip levels and avoid any nasty surprise in the wet, when the car reminds you of its weight. Obviously, there’s no need to push the Gran Coupe to its limits, it’s more a laid-back cruiser than a hardcore track car.

Why I buy it

Obviously, the grille is a bone of contention, some will like it while some others will fin dit unsightly. Apart from that, the 420i Gran Coupe stands out in the BMW range : it offers a rather sober and restrained design than most of BMW’s recent cars. Both the recently revised X7 or the new 7 Series comes to mind. In this 5-door’s case, BMW plays the seduction card to the fullest while not forgetting more functional aspects that are definitely better than on the 2 door coupe. As we mentioned earlier on, it’s grown up and the better for is as 4 people can now travel comfortably inside. The 4 Grand Coupe remains a BMW through and through, even if this entry version is aching for more power… Passengers won’t even be surprised to realize that, on a rather empty winding road, the  driver enjoys himself from time to time.

Why I don’t buy it

The Grand Coupe 420i starts from t €46,400. However, some extras will still be needed to make it looks the part :  bigger wheels, some flashy colors or a better interior trim worthy of its rank. However, this could quickly push the price north of €55,000. There’s no hybrid powertrain available so it’s unlikely that fleet managers will include it in their shortlist. The infotainment system menus could do with a more intuitive approach, even though some practice is likely to help with that. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain – Pictures of the M440i xDrive)

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