The BMW 4 Series first arrived as a coupe version of the 3 Series saloon back in 2013, before the manufacturer sliced the roof off to create the 4 Series Convertible a year later.
The number ‘4’ was used to denote the sportier versions of the more sensible and more practical 3 Series models, despite the 3 moniker’s near 40-year history. Shortly after the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible, BMW released the Gran Coupe, a sleek four-door model to rival the Audi A5 Sportback.
While the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible replace models that have traditionally been part of the 3 Series range, BMW would rather we think of the 4 Series line-up as a new and more prestigious breed than the Three.
This upward mobility is in no small part a response to the success of Audi’s A5 range and, indeed, the 4 Series Gran Coupe – with its five-door, five-seat layout finessed into a coupe-like silhouette – aims to swipe market share from the similarly configured A5 Sportback.
The release of a second generation Audi A5 prompted BMW to act and subject the 4 Series Gran Coupe to a much needed facelift, and the Munich manufacturer weren’t content on merely making cosmetic changes.
With the exception of its electrically powered tailgate, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s spec matches the Coupe’s, and the two are priced identically.
Therefore, the former model is actually a pretty good value when you consider the added practicality of three extra doors and one extra seat.
What does it compare with?
There is good reason to put the BMW 430i Gran Coupe on your buying list. Two extra doors and a fifth seatbelt. These two items make turn the cabin into a family-friendly 2+3 seater, should you feel the need to add extra passengers.
In terms of rivals, the 4 Series has to fight off competition from the usual luxury German brands. Audi’s A5 range has every 4 Series covered, from coupe, convertible and even four-door coupe with the A5 Sportback.
The Mercedes C-class is available as a coupe and a drop top to take the fight to the 4 Series. However there is no equivalent four-door coupe of the Mercedes (yet anyway), only the bigger CLS or smaller CLA.
Where the 4 Series range is lacking compared to the Benz and Audi line-ups is a credible performance car below the ultimate M4. The Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe and Audi S5 are very capable, fast cars, and more focused than BMW’s 440i.
Looking outside of Europe, one could also say that the Kia Stinger may sort of compare.
The Audi is a shade longer and wider than the BMW, but they are dimensionally closely matched. They share an identical wheelbase and trunk capacities of 480 litres – which are also vital statistics of the formidable 3 Series sedan.
Therefore, while the 4 Series Gran Coupe aims to compete with Audi for premium-ness and better it for dynamics, it might also upsell potential 3 Series buyers.
It’s not difficult to see why either. The Grand Coupe is a handsome thing, retaining much of the 4 Series Coupe’s presence and grace. They are identical from nose to A-pillar and have the same length, width and wheelbase, but the Gran Coupe’s roofline is 23mm higher 112mm longer to add room to the rear cabin and trunk.
Few would argue that the resulting shape isn’t much more handsome than the slightly pedestrian-looking 3 Series sedan. However, there is a new 3 Series for 2020 which is a quantum leap from its predecessor.
BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system is fast to act and transparent, providing the models it is fitted to with huge reserves of grip no matter what the weather. In the case of the 430i Grand Coupe, the driven front axle changes the whole dynamic of the machine.
It turns the 4 Series into a passable impression of a well-sorted Audi equipped with quattro, making it perfect for Canadian weather conditions especially when kitted out with the right set of winter tires.
Besides the light changes to the face and the rump, BMW has fitted new LED headlights, taillights, and fog lights to the 4 Series range.
Inside, not much has while inside there are light changes to the dashboard, primarily centred around the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. The USB plug has also been moved to a more easily accessible spot below the climate controls.
But where the engineers have been busy is tweaking the handling characteristics by lowering the car’s centre of gravity by 30mm, widening the front and rear tracks and software alterations to the traction control.
What about the inside?
The interior shows less progress than the exterior facelift changes to the 4 Series Gran Coupe. As before, the dash layout and switchgear are largely from the 3 Series. There is a new all-digital dash which looks very attractive, albeit not quite so techy as that of the 5, 7 Series or new BMW X5’s.
If you choose black hide, the cabin is quite gloomy unless you specify the bright aluminium dash and door trim, as with my tester. The blue stitching and tiny M coloured logos on the seats are a nice touch.
A few surfaces – door handle surrounds, rear door toppers, rear cup-holders and front seatbacks – are moulded in slightly hard plastic. Nonetheless, the materials are good, the plastic grain is upmarket, and as with all BMWs, the driver ergonomics are excellent. This is clearly a driver’s car.
To that fact, the driver-focused design angles the center-stack slightly toward the left, and a straight-forward driving position puts all controls right where they should be. In addition, my test vehicle’s highly adjustable front buckets provided power-adjustable side bolsters and manually adjustable thigh-supports. Wonderful!
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is displayed on a high resolution 8.8-inch display and includes navigation and real-time traffic updates. The iDrive interface, which is one of the best in the industry, is controlled via touch or by using a rotary clickwheel mounted between the front seats. The optional Wi-Fi hotspot utilizes a 4G LTE data connection, which requires a monthly subscription after a three-month trial.
Apple CarPlay is supported, although slightly awkward to use with just the iDrive clickwheel. Newer BMWs have a combination of the iDrive controller and touchscreen which makes Apple CarPlay a lot easier to use. Android fans are unfortunately out of luck as Android Auto support is unavailable.
Rear-seat ingress is a bit inhibited by the Gran Coupe’s roof line and wheel arches – you have to climb in and then fall back into position – but in the outer two seats, legroom is ample and headroom is acceptable, though outermost shoulders are pushed forwards by the curve of the seatbacks, angling occupants towards the centre console.
A perched fifth passenger struggles for head and shoulder room. This is the compromise that one has to pay for the vehicle’s handsome coupe-like styling.
The cavernous trunk has a high lip but is wide and uniformly shaped. Remove the two-part parcel shelf, flip the splitting rear seatbacks forward and you won’t get a fully flat load space, but you will get 1300 litres of maximum capacity – which is only 200 litres shy of a 3 Series Touring wagon.
How does it drive?
And of course, since it’s a BMW review, we have to talk about the car’s driving dynamics and powertrain.
On the road, the 430i Gran Coupe feels very much like its two-door 430i Coupe sibling. The extra doors, bigger trunk, and longer body bring a slight weight penalty of around 50 kilograms over the two-door 4 Series. However, attack your favourite ribbon of tarmac and you wouldn’t know it, even through the corners.
The Gran Coupe exhibits the same strong body control, slightly firm ride, and the same sense of truly being engaged with the driving experience. BMW’s xDrive full-time all-wheel-drive system is totally transparent except when you need it, and even offers the reassurance of all-weather traction.
The steering may be electrically assisted, but you still get a weighty (adjustable) and responsive feel, the same precision, and the overall handling agility that we’ve come to expect from the BMW brand.
The turbocharged 2.0 litre-four-cylinder engine in the 430i puts out 248 hp at 5,200 rpms and 258 lb-ft of torque from a low 1,450 rpms. While this is significantly less than the straight-six engine in the 440i, the four-cylinder’s torque spread is impressive and the optional eight-speed automatic transmission responds quickly and smoothly, despite not being a dual clutch gearbox but a conventional automatic transmission.
This is a properly fast car too, and the engine and exhaust notes are surprisingly good sounding, albeit slightly digitally enhanced.
The M Sport version has standard adaptive suspension and steering systems, and as you toggle from Comfort to Sport Plus you can feel the chassis tightening its grip on you and the road. Oddly, it’s in Comfort mode that the Gran Coupe feels most at home with itself.
Matching a compliant ride with a loose-limbed, long-distance cruising vibe, it munches through miles effortlessly. In Sport Plus, you get beefy steering, sharp throttle response and relaxed stability systems, but after bumbling around on bad pavement, you’ll soon realise that it’s meant for the twisty corners. The 430i Gran Coupe’s forté is ghosting over the road rather than leaving black lines on it.
The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe blends the 4 Series Coupe’s sharp design with some of the 3 Series Touring’s practicality.
As a whole, BMW’s 4 Series line-up is a little bit of a double-edged sword in terms of ride and handling. An increased emphasis on comfort over the preceding E92/E93 3 Series sees the new car lose a little of its dynamic edge.
However, BMW has reinstated some of that dynamic edge with the facelifted version, with uprated suspension components over the older model.
It is true that this is a car that majors on long distance comfort over track use. However, for most people, the 430i Gran Coupe still offers up a broad enough balance of comfort, practicality, style, and high level of driver engagement suitable for the everyday commute.
Whether you decide to take the long way home one night via the twisty back roads, or the normal highway drive, you’ll find yourself grinning ear to ear when you’re behind the wheel of the 4 Series Gran Coupe.