BMW 4-series Gran Coupe Test Drive Review
18 August 2014
Author: Jack Carfrae
The 4-series Gran Coupe is yet another new bodystyle from BMW as the premium German manufacturer broadens its already burgeoning model range and takes a direct swipe at arch rival Audi's A5 Sportback.
The four-door coupe market is one that's still small but growing: think the Volkswagen CC, Mercedes' CLA, and its larger and more expensive CLS. The A5 is by far and away the most established in that sector, and after Audi having its own way for five years, BMW has countered with a four-door, longer-wheelbase version of the 4-series (itself a coupe version of the upper medium 3-series under the firm's new naming strategy).
If you're familiar with the 4-series Coupe, then the Gran Coupe won't come as much of a shock because it's all but identical in many ways. As well as the two extra doors, the big difference is the roof, which is 23mm higher and 112mm longer, creating more legroom in the back and in the boot. The latter compartment stretches to 480 litres (35 more than the standard coupe's boot) and it also gets an electric tailgate as standard.
It may be a larger and more practical car than the standard 4-series but the Gran Coupe is priced exactly the same: it starts at £29,225 and you'll pay the same P11D value for an equivalent version with two less doors and a lot less rear legroom. So for fleets, the new model is a real no-brainer. It's worth noting that the back seats genuinely are roomy and they're not difficult to get in and out of, and that gives the BMW a real edge over conventional coupes, which often make you wonder why manufacturers even bother fitting back seats.
BMW says it's expecting to sell fewer Gran Coupes than conventional 4-series Coupes, but the fleet volumes are tipped to be higher for the larger vehicle because businesses generally favour four- and five-door cars, especially those with restricted choice lists that don't permit coupes or convertibles. BMW is also hoping the Gran will appeal to current 3-series drivers looking for something different to change into without switching to a rival brand.
BusinessCar tested the 420d xDrive model, which is to square up to Audi's successful quattro four-wheel drive system. 4WD means it loses a little in the way of efficiency over the cleanest and most economical variants, so you're looking at an official 57.6mpg and 129g/km as opposed to the rear-wheel drive 418d's range best of 61.4mpg and 121g/km. That isn't the worst of penalties though, and is unlikely to make user-choosers at this end of the market turn their noses up if they reckon four-wheel drive could come in handy.
On the road, the Gran Coupe is very similar to the 3- and 4-series models on which it's based, themselves coveted by business drivers and operators. The steering and handling are as sharp as ever and a cut above rivals, the ride is comfortable (although arguably not quite as polished as that of the Audis and Mercs it competes with), plus it's nice and quiet.