From £29,7007
The latest addition to the 4 Series family, this five-door liftback is stylish and practical but this engine lacks sparkle and refinement

Our Verdict

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé

The luxurious and stylish BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé goes toe-to-toe with the fresh-faced Audi A5 Sportback, but is it enough to turn customers' heads towards Munich rather than Inglostadt?

22 May 2014

What is it?

The third of BMW’s new 4 Series badged models – the 4 Series Gran Coupé.

Following the recently introduced 4 Series coupé and convertible, it has been conceived as part of efforts by BMW to cover each and every conceivable market niche in the premium car class.

All three models sit on the same platform and share the same mechanical package but receive differing body configurations and are aimed at different buyers.

In terms of style, this new BMW leans heavily on its well received 4 Series stablemates. This is particularly prominent up front, where the Gran Coupé shares the same bodywork and detailing as coupé and convertible. From its not inconsiderable B-pillars rearwards, though, it boasts its own look.

Like the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé introduced to the UK last year, the 4 Series Gran Coupé receives four frameless doors. This makes it unique in the 4 Series line-up. But unlike its larger and more expensive sibling, it does not receive a conventional boot. Instead, BMW has provided it with a large liftback style tailgate with the aim of providing it with the sort of practicality offered by its prime rival, the Audi A5 Sportback.

In doing so, it has created an in-house rival to its most popular model, the BMW 3 Series saloon. It also occupies similar ground to the 3 Series GT – BMW’s other mid-size liftback model.

As well as offering greater rear seat accommodation than the 4 Series coupé, the 4 Series Gran Coupé also boasts nominal boot capacity on par with the 3 Series saloon at 480 litres. This increases to 1300 litres when the standard 60:40 split rear seats are folded down.

When it reaches UK showrooms the 4 Series Gran Coupé will offer the choice of seven petrol and diesel engines together with either a standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic gearbox with most powerplants – the same combination that BMW has made available on the 4 Series coupé.

What's it like?

First of all, this is a great-looking car with a suitably racy profile and superb proportions for a four door. However, the styling itself is only part of what makes it so aesthetically pleasing.

It is the stance that makes the appearance of the 4 Series Gran Coupé such a stand-out in a class where style is often a deciding factor. With suitably wide tracks and a relatively long wheelbase, it sits confidently on the road with a wonderful athletic demeanour and just the right amount of attitude.

Still, the promise built up by the sleek exterior is not successfully carried over to the interior. Despite offering an excellent driving position and good all-round vision, the dashboard incorporates a lot of cheap-looking black plastic and rather cheap-looking switchgear. It does, however, offer a surprising amount of room and the five-door layout makes it inherently more practical than the 4 Series coupé.

Equipment levels mirror those of the 4 Series coupé. The base SE spec includes Xenon headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, two zone air conditioning, heated seats, speed sensitive Servotronic steering and a 6.5-inch monitor.

While the diesel variants are set to be the big sellers in the UK, BMW decided to launch the car in Spain with a petrol engine. The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit may be getting on in age but recent enhancements see it provide the 428i Gran Coupé with solid, if not dazzling, performance in combination with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox, as fitted to our test car.

There is respectable low-end response and relatively flexible mid-range qualities by turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine standards, thanks in part to the 258lb ft of torque developed in a band of revs between 1200 and 5000rpm. Official figures point to a 0-62mph time of 6.1sec, which makes it over a second faster than the A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI fitted with its optional Multitronic CVT.

However, the 428i Gran Coupé becomes quite vocal and mechanical refinement begins to wane if you work it hard. As such, it is best to rely on the wide spread of ratios from the automatic gearbox to keep it in a high ratio and use the inherent elasticity to keep progress strong. Interestingly, BMW considered fitting the new car with sound synthesizer to give it a more alluring note. In the end, though, it decided the four-pot soundtrack was sufficiently sporting. It isn’t… not by BMW standards, at least.

With BMW’s Drive Performance Control system as standard, the driver gets to choose between four different driving modes: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.

This provides BMW’s latest model with a multi-faceted dynamic repertoire aimed at seeing it appeal to wide number of buyer types. Eco Pro and Comfort modes are roughly equal, as are Sport and Sport Plus.

The steering, which feels overly light and lacks for self-centering in Comfort mode, receives added weighting and a more encouraging feel as you toggle the button down on the centre console to engage Sport. It is a similar story with the damping, which again feels a little under done in Comfort but much more accommodating in Sport without any great deterioration in overall ride quality.

Keep it in Sport and the 428i Gran Coupé proves engaging and quite entertaining. The optional 225/35 R19 front and 225/40 R19 rear tyres worn by our test car provided it with plenty of purchase. There is tidy balance thanks 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. And the electronic stability control allows allow a small degree of oversteer when you’re willing.

There are downsides, though. Excessive tyre roar spoils its otherwise hushed cruising qualities and sharp vertical body movements can sometimes catch you out on undulating roads at higher speeds.  

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for a BMW 3 Series saloon, it is well worth consideration. The 4 Series Gran Coupé might not possess the outright accommodation of its more conventional stablemate, with which it shares its mechanical package, but its large liftback endows it with impressive practicality.

It also provides the scope for a more appealing appearance than the comparatively dumpy 3 Series GT – a model that, while offering an added 40 litres of nominal boot space, now seems rather superfluous.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé 428i 

Price £32,820; 0-62mph 6.0sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 44.8mpg; CO2 154g/km; Kerb weight 1510kg; Engine type 4 cyls, in-line 1997cc, turbocharged, petrol; Installation front, longitudinal, rwd; Power 242bhp at 5800rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1200rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
16

23 May 2014
If I wasn't totally confused by BMW's badge naming policy, then I am now. To the uninitiated, this 428i nameplate might suggest a car that's bigger than a 4-Series and powered by a 2.8 litre engine. Yet, here is what I am told is a 5-door "coupe" (surely a contradiction in terms) a little smaller than a 3-Series which is powered by a two litre turbocharged four cylinder engine. Presumably the "28" designation signals an engine which produces similar power to that of a 2.8 litre normally aspirated engine?
I'm sure this is a jolly fine car, but why does this German company continue with such an odd naming policy? Isn't it about time to adopt a good old fashioned nameinstead?

23 May 2014
The naming strategy is not difficult to understand. As the first number rises so does the price and the larger the second two numbers, the more power it has - capacity has long been irrelevant now turbocharging is so prevalent. A 6 series coupe is smaller than a 5 series or X5 but no one complains about that. As for this 4 series, this is the first time I've heard criticism over the interior plastics and whilst the 2.0 engine may not be aurally impressive, to say it's getting on in age is surprising - surely it's only about 3 years old. But I get the feeling from the article that this car isn't that different to the other 4 series which in turn aren't that different to the 3 series so it's difficult to be that enthusiastic about them.

23 May 2014
Will86 wrote:

The naming strategy is not difficult to understand. As the first number rises so does the price and the larger the second two numbers, the more power it has - capacity has long been irrelevant now turbocharging is so prevalent. A 6 series coupe is smaller than a 5 series or X5 but no one complains about that. As for this 4 series, this is the first time I've heard criticism over the interior plastics and whilst the 2.0 engine may not be aurally impressive, to say it's getting on in age is surprising - surely it's only about 3 years old. But I get the feeling from the article that this car isn't that different to the other 4 series which in turn aren't that different to the 3 series so it's difficult to be that enthusiastic about them.

I agree with your comment about the interior plastics. The 3-Series is only 3 years old and the materials have been seen as excellent and equaled the A4's and better the old C-Class', so the 4-Series shouldn't be any different. Unless BMW have changed the material quality for the coupe. Or it could be that the new Merc C-Class has raised the bar and everything else in comparison appears cheap.

4 July 2016
I would have read this comment before about plastic. Yes, its indeed very true. I have just bought a BMW 420d week ago. I am happy with the car overall except the interior being cheap looking plastic which makes me think every time i sat in the car. This morning surprisingly one of the plastic which holds the mat on the front passenger door(near left foot) has come off while my friend is getting off from the car. it was such a shame.
I have just told my dealer and he said we will fix it. But this is not what i expect to see from a week old brand new car.

23 May 2014
Easily the pick of the range in my eyes, and that's coming from a past saloon and coupe owner (E46). The only slight problem for me is list price - always thought daily running costs to be great but it's depreciation that's the reason I've abandoned BMW. Pity.

23 May 2014
golly gosh. this car is rated 3.5 stars and the Vauxhall Cascada at a price not far off is rated 4 stars???!

23 May 2014
winniethewoo wrote:

golly gosh. this car is rated 3.5 stars and the Vauxhall Cascada at a price not far off is rated 4 stars???!

Kind of what I was thinking too. Also, not sure how this car only gets 3.5 star when the 3 series saloon, which s not as sharp to drive nor as good looking, got 5!

23 May 2014
Yes, the mind boggles doesnt it. Perhaps if reviewed today the 3 series would only score 4.0, with the 4 series gran coupe getting half a point knocked off for poor rear headroom, being more expensive etc. We would have to conclude then, as their list prices are similar and they their reviews were published within days of each other, the Vauxhall Cascada is better than this 428i gran coupe, on an equal footing to the 328i. Gosh, all the silly people in the world buying 3 series BMW's don't know what they are missing!

23 May 2014
winniethewoo wrote:

Yes, the mind boggles doesnt it. Perhaps if reviewed today the 3 series would only score 4.0, with the 4 series gran coupe getting half a point knocked off for poor rear headroom, being more expensive etc. We would have to conclude then, as their list prices are similar and they their reviews were published within days of each other, the Vauxhall Cascada is better than this 428i gran coupe, on an equal footing to the 328i. Gosh, all the silly people in the world buying 3 series BMW's don't know what they are missing!

You could be right, but at the risk boggling your mind further, only last month in a head to head test against the new C-Class, Autocar decided the 3-series slaoon is still the car to beat in its class......or maybe not! Maybe the Cascada is now the car to beat, seeing as the Gran Coupe is only 3.5 stars worth, at least according to this mag!

23 May 2014
Nope, I can't say I'm confused by BMW's naming strategy. In fact it's straighforward. Odd numbers for conventional models like saloons and hatchbacks and even numbers for the coupe-style cars based on thsoe saloons/hatcbacks, which the 4-Series is. No-one considers an Audi A5 or A7 to be anything other than coupe versions of the saloons they're based on. As for BMW (and for that matter Mercedes') engine badging policy, they're done to represent what the supposed equivalent naturally aspirated engine capacity would be because before smaller-capacity turbocharged petrol engines were introduced, BMW and Mercedes engines were primarily N/A and generally the larger the engine, the more power it produced. The issue with smaller-capacity turbocharged petrol engines is that you could have different power outputs from the same capacity, like the latest BMW 2.0 petrol engine for example.

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