The Audi is a shade longer and wider than the BMW, but they are dimensionally closely matched. They share an identical wheelbase and boot capacity of 2810mm and 480 litres – which are also vital statistics of the formidable 3 Series saloon. So while the 4 Series Gran Coupé aims to compete with Audi for premium-ness and better it for dynamics, it might also upsell potential 3 Series buyers.
Is the Gran Coupé a viable alternative to the 3 Series?
A 4 Series Gran Coupé costs around three grand more than a 3 Series saloon, but the Four’s kit levels are significantly more generous, with three trim levels to choose from - SE, Sport and M Sport. Opt for the entry-level SE model comes fitted with 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, a chrome dual exhaust, parking sensors, LED head, rear and fog lights, and automatic wipers and lights as standard on the outside. While inside there is dual-zone climate control, a Dakota leather upholstery, heated front seats and BMW's brilliant iDrive infotainment system complete with DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, sat nav, numerous online services and a 6.5in display. Only the 2.0-litre diesel 420d is available in this trim.
Upgrade to the Sport model and you will find 18in alloy wheels, interior ambient lighting, various driving modes, lots of high black gloss trim, sports seats and sun visors complete with illuminated vanity mirrors, while the range-topping M Sport trim gets an aggressive bodykit, gloss black interior detailings, suspension and alloy wheels, as well as BMW's Professional Media pack.
With the exception of its standard-fit electrically powered tailgate, the Gran Coupé’s spec matches the Coupé’s, and the two are priced identically – good value when you consider the added practicality of three extra doors and one extra seat (though Audi actually charges less for the A5 in Sportback configuration than it does for the coupé).
Externally, the Gran Coupé retains much of the Coupé’s presence and grace, though it’s a little more cab-heavy. They are identical from nose to A-pillar and have the same length, width and wheelbase, but the Gran Coupé’s roofline is 23mm higher 112mm longer to add room to the rear cabin and boot. Few would argue that the resulting shape isn’t much more handsome than the slightly awkward-looking 3 Series saloon.
The interior shows less progress – the dash layout and switchgear are largely from the 3 Series – and if you choose black hide the cabin is quite gloomy. A few surfaces – door handle surrounds, rear door toppers, rear cup-holders and front seatbacks – are moulded in disappointingly hard plastic, and the handbrake lever feels cheap, but materials are generally good, and driver ergonomics are convincing.
Rear-seat ingress is inhibited by the wheel arches – you have to climb in and then fall back into position – but in the outer two seats, legroom is ample and headroom is acceptable, though outermost shoulders are pushed forwards by the curve of the seatbacks, angling occupants towards the centre console. A perched fifth passenger struggles for head and shoulder room.
The boot has a high lip but is wide and uniformly shaped. Remove the two-part parcel shelf, flip the splitting rear seatbacks forward and you won’t get a fully flat load space, but you will get 1300 litres of maximum capacity – which is only 200 litres shy of a 3 Series Touring.
Powering the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé
As for powerplants for the Gran Coupé, there are three petrols and four diesels, all turbocharged. A 2.0-litre four-pot petrol offers 181bhp (in the 420i) or 248bhp (430i), while a 3.0-litre straight six produces 321bhp in the 440i. The most popular diesel will come with BMW's venerable 2.0-litre four-pot, which makes 181bhp in the 420d and four-wheel-drive 420d xDrive. All can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a £1550 eight-speed auto that slightly improves economy.