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.