It’s easy to deride the “Gran Coupe” badge as marketing mumbo jumbo. Some BMW models that wear it fail at the Gran aspect, and not one of these sleek four-door sedans is a proper Coupe. Sometimes, though, a BMW Gran Coupe is more compelling than the two-door model it is based on. Such is the case with the 4 Series and its Gran Coupe iteration.
Introduced in coupe and convertible forms for 2021, the 4 Series gains a Gran Coupe variant for 2022. With rear doors and a larger cargo area, the Gran Coupe has practicality absent from other 4 Series models. Sure, but get a 3 Series—the 4 Series’ mechanically identical formal sedan counterpart—if you want something truly sensible. Isn’t the allure of a coupe its very coupe-ness; rejecting pragmatism for style and splendor? Yes, which is why the swept-roof 4 Series Gran Coupe is sultrier than the similar yet more traditional 3 Series sedan. And yet, pragmatism can’t be entirely ignored if it comes at little cost to style or handling, meaning that, among 4 Series models, the practical-yet-attractive Gran Coupe is the one to get.
The Face Remains
Two doors or four, roofed or alfresco, that grille remains the 4 Series’ stylistic focus. If time is needed to come to terms with the pair of vertically oriented nostrils where BMW’s classic kidney grilles used to live, the wait continues.
The view is more appealing from angles where the front can’t be seen, as the Gran Coupe demonstrates nicely. Accommodations for rear passengers elevate the roofline, which trails into a shorter deck emphasizing the rear-drive stance. A black checkmark running from behind the front wheel lessens the visual weight. There’s an extra roof pillar that the true coupe doesn’t have, but frameless windows sleeken the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s profile, as do flush-mounted door handles.
Sizing It Up
Despite its changes, the Gran Coupe isn’t much larger than any other 4 Series. Its 188.5-inch length compares to 187.9 for the two-door coupe. Its 112.4-inch wheelbase is only 0.2 inch longer. Height is the biggest difference; the Gran Coupe stands 56.8 inches tall and the coupe 54.6 inches.
Inside, rear seat measurements are surprisingly close to those of its two-door counterpart. Legroom of 34.9 inches is just 0.4 more. Headroom measures 36.6 inches, better than the coupe’s 35.2, but still tight. Shoulder room grows most, to 54.3 inches from 51.0. That said, if you’re going to offer up rear-seat room akin to that of a two-door, you couldn’t pick a better coupe to bogey: The 4 Series coupe’s rear seats are surprisingly spacious given the form factor, and the Gran Coupe’s rear doors simply make accessing that space easier. Up front, interior measurements are similarly close in both 4 Series.
Really, the Gran Coupe’s hatchback sets it apart. Beneath the top-hinged liftgate is a 16.6-cubic-foot cargo volume, which exceeds the coupe’s 12.0 cubes, but slightly trails the 3 Series sedan’s 17.0-cube trunk. The Gran Coupe’s counter: a crossover-hunting 45.6 cubic feet when the 40/20/40 split-folding second-row seats are lowered.
Turbocharged or Electric Power (Sort Of)
Familiar BMW engines power the 4 Series Gran Coupe, each paired to an eight-speed automatic. Starting at $46,195, the 430i has a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 producing 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, all sent to the rear wheels. Prices begin at $59,195 for the M440i xDrive, which packs a 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6, good for 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. All-wheel drive for the 430i and rear-wheel drive for the M440i will be offered in the future.
No Gran Coupe body is available in high-performance M4 guise. An electric model, however, is available—in a sense. The new i4 is essentially an all-electric version of the 4 Series Gran Coupe. In dual-motor M50i specification, it makes the most power and torque of any 4-badged BMW car (536 hp and 586 lb-ft).
Our drive route for the 430i and M440i xDrive Gran Coupe covered dead-straight streets, around-town avenues, and undulating canyon sweepers. We quickly became acquainted with the car—it feels so similar to the 4 Series coupes and convertibles we’ve assessed previously.
The 430i’s four-pot is smooth and responsive, leaving little wait for its turbocharger to add boost. It’s a nice base engine, able to easily propel the 430i up to and beyond highway speeds. Our test of a 430i convertible yielded a 5.6-second 0-60 mph time, and we figure the Gran Coupe will post a similar figure. The I-4 gives the 430i some boldness, but isn’t snappy enough to unsettle the chassis.
That’s largely the same in the M440i xDrive, which somewhat obscures its I-6’s power and torque. In everyday scenarios, it hardly feels more urgent than the four-cylinder. The performance gap only comes out when the six is prodded. Then the M440i xDrive claws forward impressively, accompanied by that classic straight-six growl. We can’t imagine it’s much slower than the equivalent coupe, which hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds in our testing. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive ensures that traction is never an issue, yet somewhat neutralizes the car’s demeanor.
Indeed, composure was the pervasive impression the 4 Series Gran Coupe left us with—for better or worse. The examples we drove were equipped with M Sport adaptive steering and suspension, which really should do more to back up that legendary letter. At the steering wheel, there can be a notable numb area on-center, past which the rate ramps significantly. The suspension delivers excellent body control, but also brings on a chattery, stiff ride. BMW might like drivers to think M-emblazoned hardware adds edginess. Rather, they put the 4 Series Gran Coupe somewhere between sport and luxury, present yet uncommitted in either strata.
Even so, the 4 Series Gran Coupe drives with cohesive refinement. There’s a confident consistency throughout the controls, a sensation that persists through choppy pavement, creeping traffic, or fast corners. Appreciable as that is, perhaps less of it would make the 4 Series Gran Coupe feel more entertaining, more spirited.
That general sense of stoicism is visualized in the cabin, which, although assembled to a high standard of quality, doesn’t present extravagance or flair. Instead, it’s straightforward, arranging its switchgear and materials in an artless way. That’s true of any 4 Series—missing the style and splendor which makes a coupe a special occasion.
If two-door 4 Series models stirred the soul to a greater extent, they might make carrying an extra person or parcel worth another drive. But they don’t. As such, practicality makes the Gran Coupe the pick of the 4 Series range. The changes add everyday appeal to what is ultimately a highly engineered machine, and deliver respect to the Gran Coupe badge.
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