First Drive: BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
Sector: Four-door coupe Price: £29,425–£45,045 Fuel: 34.0–61.4mpg CO2: 118–193g/km
Sometimes BMW’s model range can seem a touch confusing, with all manner of cars of slightly varying specifications. In the middle of its offering there are 3, 4 and 5 Series that all are variously slightly higher, lower, longer and with different types of boots on them.
So to add a little more grey to your temples is the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, as you no doubt envisage those days when drivers wander over to your desk and start asking questions about the seating height position differences between 3, 4 and 5 Series Saloons, Gran Turismos, Coupes, Gran Coupes and Tourings.
There is one simple answer though: the Gran Coupe is a fabulous car. In fact, it might be the best of the lot.
For a start, despite the Gran Coupe's four doors and a hatchback boot, BMW has managed to retain much of the sleekness of the 4 Series Coupe in a more practical package. Up front, both models are identical and share the typical BMW design features such as the double-kidney grille, dual round headlights and the large air intake in the front apron.
The Gran Coupe is only 12mm higher, while the roofline is 112mm longer to incorporate the extra doors, but it retains exactly the same dimensions as the two-door coupe: a length of 4,638mm, width of 1,825mm and a wheelbase of 2,810mm. That means that inside rear passengers get more than acceptable head and legroom, but it doesn’t have that slightly ungainly quality that the 3 and 5 Series Gran Turismo cars have.
Of course, the two extra doors, extra metal in the roof and hatchback boot do add weight, and it needed strengthening bars added above the rear wheelarches to stiffen the shell where a big hole for the boot has been cut out. In all though, the total penalty for all this equates to only 60kg, which is hardly major.
The boot volume of 480 litres is 35 litres larger than that of the two-door version, and the same capacity of the BMW 3 Series Saloon, while the back of the rear seats can be folded down to increase the load capacity to 1,300 litres when completely folded flat – a best-in-class figure among premium four-door coupes.
As standard, the Gran Coupe comes with an automatic boot lid and can also be ordered with the Smart Opener feature, with opening and closing effected with a sweep of the foot under the rear bumper. A sensor detects the movement and proximity of the key to release the boot lid.
Of interest to most fleet buyers will be the 181bhp BMW 420d, which comes with the latest-generation four-cylinder diesel engine, has impressive torque levels of 280lb.ft accessible from 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm, exceptional smoothness and decent, if not spectacular efficiency: CO2 emissions are as low as 121g/km. There’s a 418d too, although as with most BMWs at the moment, the 18d variant doesn’t offer great CO2 savings over the 20d versions.
The car drives in a very similar manner to the Coupe, although spring and damper settings have been marginally revised to take account of the slightly higher centre of gravity. But overall, it rides nicely and has the trademark 4 Series agility too.
It will compete in that fleet heartland against the Audi A5 Sportback, which has been so successful in this sector, and feels a genuinely classy, stylish, practical and enjoyable car to live with. In fact, it’s hard to fault, especially as it is the same price as the two-door Coupe and offers more. It seems that BMW, for all its model tinkering, has got the recipe spot on with the Gran Coupe.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe is the perfect company car for a userchooser: stylish lines, practical thanks to increased rear accommodation and a big boot, while being great to drive and handily efficient too.