As hard as it is to keep up with a BMW on the road, sometimes it’s even harder to keep up with the company’s product lineup.
It made sense, sort of, when BMW rebadged the 3 Series coupe (two-door) as the 4 Series. That way, cars with an even number of doors would have an even Series number.
However, then we come to today’s test car, a 2015 BMW 4 Series (428i) Gran Coupe. You’d expect two doors. But that’s not the case. This Gran Coupe has four doors—or five if you want to consider the elongated trunk as a hatchback opening.
And it’s not as if BMW has made this a hardtop. This is a sedan with a solid, glossy black B pillar separating the front and rear doors. However, in a coupe-like stroke, there’s no door frame around the side windows.
The Gran Coupe has the same dimensions—length, width, wheelbase—as the two-door coupe. However, the roofline is 4.4 inches longer and slopes more gradually to the rear.
In truth, the body style reminds one of the Honda Crosstour hatchback that promised to be a useful vehicle but had disappointing sales.
Unless one of the rear passengers needs extra headroom, the Gran Coupe can accommodate four adults and their luggage comfortably. The five-passenger rating would be for emergencies only.
The rear seat reflects that 40-20-40 rear-seat spacing design. You don’t want to be in that middle 20 percent. In fact, that space can be used for a dual cup holder for rear-seat passengers. However, any or all of those rear seat sections also can be folded for extra hatchback-like cargo space.
Style-wise, the Gran Coupe is instantly recognizable as a BMW thanks to the classic kidney grille and dual round headlight clusters.
Most important, it’s a joy to drive, even if the optional sport seats left me cramped after a three-hour journey.
I had the pleasure of driving it to the Litchfield hills of northwest Connecticut where it reveled in the ups, downs, and twists of the back roads.
It was one of life’s coincidences that the destination was an event to introduce Cadillac’s ATS coupe, a vehicle that was designed to be a direct competitor of the BMW 3 and 4 Series and a story for another day.
Our test BMW was powered by BMW’s 2.0-liter inline four cylinder with direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger. It produces 240 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque.
Power goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic (paddle-shifter) automatic transmission. The 435i version has a 3.0-liter inline six cylinder engine that delivers 300 horsepower.
All-wheel-drive (that’s xDrive in BMW-speak) is available now on the 428i and will be on the 435i by year’s end.
The tuned exhaust has a wonderfully understated note that growls nicely when the driver switches to sport mode and engages the paddle shifters. And doing just that is a delight. This BMW is made for spirited driving with its near 50:50 weight distribution, low center of gravity, and the optional M Sport suspension.
Inside, controls are standard BMW fare, but the leather color scheme of Dakota Coral Red and black with aluminum trim is something that could have been inspired by the Jetsons and would be at home as an ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) exhibit.
Looking at the price tags on BMWs is not for the faint of heart. The base price (with destination) is $41,250. Our test vehicle got well into the options list, but not all the way, and wound up with a bottom line of $52,300 for a very well equipped version.
Among the standard features were auto start/stop, multiple driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+), rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, automatic headlight control, and moon roof.
The iconic BMW Estoril Blue Metallic paint was a $550 option on our car. We also had the $3,500 M Sport trim package (as opposed to the $1,700 Luxury Line or $2,100 Sport Line trims). M Sport adds 18-inch alloys, the adaptive M suspension, sport seats, high gloss black trim, hexagonal aluminum interior trim, an M Sport steering wheel with controls, aerodynamic kit, exterior trim accents, and an anthracite headliner.
A Cold Weather package ($950) features heated front and rear seats, heated wheel, and retractable washer nozzles. The Driver Assistance Package ($950) added a rearview camera that should have been standard, plus park distance control. A Dynamic Handling package ($1,000) contained variable sport steering, one facet BMW has had right for a long time. Side and top view cameras ($750) didn’t have the right perspective for my comfort zone in tight parking situations. A Premium Package ($2,200) added keyless entry, lumbar support, and a year’s worth of satellite radio. Throw in M Sport brakes ($650) and an enhanced sound system with “smartphone in” at $500 and you get our bottom line.
As the TV promotions love to say, “But wait, there’s more…”
We didn’t have navigation, part of a $3,150 Technology package that includes a hard drive-based 200GB system with touchpad, advanced real-time traffic, and remote services (stolen-vehicle recovery, remote door unlocking, and an array of connectivity features).
Also available is a $1,900 advanced driver assist feature with blind spot detection, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning, pedestrian warning and city collision mitigation, speed limit information, and the side and top view cameras.
BMW has an amazing number of 3 Series variants—hybrid, sedan, wagon, diesel, Gran Turismo hatchback—as well as the 4 Series convertible, coupe, and our Gran Coupe Sedan.
You pays your money and takes your choice. They’ve all got the proper BMW driving genes.
2015 BMW 428i Gran Coupe
Price, base/as tested (with destination): $41,250/$52,300. Fuel economy, EPA estimated: 23 city/34 highway/27 combined. Fuel economy, Globe observed: 29.0. Drivetrain: 2.0-liter inline 4 cylinder, 8-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel-drive. Body: Four door, five passenger, sedan/hatchback.
Horsepower: 240. Torque: 255 lb.-ft. Overall length: 182.6 in. Wheelbase: 110.6 in. Height: 54.7 in. Width: 71.9 in. Curb weight: 3,610 lbs.
BMW handling, styling, fuel economy, brand association.
Rear seat room, options drive price up, connectivity controls have layers of menus.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Another solid option in the 3 and 4 Series lineup.
Cadillac’s new ATS coupe.