Having driven the 220i and 420i back to back, both of which use the same 2-litre turbo engine, there’s no doubt in my mind that the 420i is the less exciting Bimmer coupe. Put another way, the 220i makes me feel younger and restless, while the 420i makes me feel older and relaxed.
It makes me slower, too – quite literally, with the 420i taking a bit longer than the 220i to go from a standstill to 100km/h. The 420i is also larger and 85kg heavier, so it also takes a bit longer to effect a sharp change in direction. It’s not lazy or anything; just less frisky than its “minus-two” sibling from the same Bavarian stable.
Being “200” higher than the 220i in the model range and $45k costlier, the 420i must be more upmarket, of course. Its size and style are more faithful to the junior grand-tourer formula than the 2 Series’ hatchback-to-notchback conversion, and its cabin is also more spacious and more luxurious. When you sit down as the driver or co-driver, a mechanical arm automatically extends from below the B-pillar to bring the seatbelt closer, so you don’t need to reach backwards “manually” like in the 220i to belt up. The seats in the 420i are bigger, softer and more comfortable, too.
Equally comfortable is the suspension, apart from some stiffness in the standard R18 run-flat tyres. The car cruises so sweetly on the expressway that sometimes, I forget that I’m in a 4 Series and think that I’m in a 6 Series. Sweet, too, is the 8-speed automatic, which has the responses and gear ratios for every urban driving need – early and tidy upshifts in downtown traffic, speedy kickdown when in a rush, and a Sport mode for “fast and furious” moments.
Unsurprisingly, the 420i is less fast and furious than the 428i, whose uprated 2-litre engine produces far more power and torque (245bhp and 350Nm respectively), with a corresponding improvement in acceleration and, possibly, sound effects. The 428i costs $20k more than the 420i, which makes it a greater distraction than the 220i for the enthusiast with this kind of money to blow on a two-door 2-litre Bimmer.
ENGINE 1997cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 184bhp at 5000-6250rpm
MAX TORQUE 270Nm at 1250-4500rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 236km/h
CO2 EMISSION 139g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$244,800 (after $5k CEVS rebate)