There is no such thing as a four-door coupe, but the “Big Three” German luxury carmakers would have you believe otherwise. Mercedes-Benz was the first to coin the term with the CLS, and Audi followed with its A7. Not long after, BMW introduced the 6 Series Gran Coupe. The CLS must have done well, because Mercedes soon launched a more compact version – the CLA.
BMW is not taking this lying down. The brand’s answer to the CLA is the 4 Series Gran Coupe (4GC), the flagship bodystyle in the “4” lineup. It is essentially the four-door variant of the 4 Series Coupe, albeit with a longer roofline.
The 4GC has an elegant design. Its front end is sleek, thanks to its slim headlights, while the wide rear end manages to avoid looking heavy. The fact that this car is a fastback is cleverly disguised, too – the tailgate is so seamless that even when viewed from behind, the 4GC resembles a notchback.
Apart from the fact that the 4GC is 12mm taller than the 4 Series Coupe, both cars actually share the same dimensions. Even their front and rear tracks are identical. The biggest difference between the two models is that the 4GC, which I drove in 428i guise, is 60kg heavier than the 428i Coupe.
Most of that extra weight comes from the additional structural reinforcements placed below the C-pillars, so as to counter any weakness caused by cutting into the monocoque to add two doors. The rest of the extra weight comes from the large tailgate, which opens to reveal a 480-litre boot, whose capacity can be expanded to 1300 litres by folding the backseats down.
Although generous, the 4GC’s total boot volume is actually lower than those of BMW’s 3 Series Touring and Gran Turismo models, which offer 1500 litres and 1600 litres respectively. Rear seat space isn’t too generous either, because the narrow bench there isn’t wide enough to accommodate three adults comfortably – the 4 Series’ cabin was originally designed with a 2+2 layout in mind after all. Meanwhile, the lack of footwell space means occupants with big feet will feel unwelcome.
While the 4GC won’t please rear passengers, it’ll certainly put a smile on the face of its driver. It displayed its handling prowess as it climbed and descended the mountain roads of the Basque countryside. Once I had chosen the correct line, the car flowed through every corner on the test route with natural poise and excellent balance. The additional structural reinforcements are worth every kilogramme.
Complementing the car’s agility is its smooth-revving 2-litre turbo engine, which produces 245bhp and 350Nm. The powerplant is very capable, and at some points it’s hard to believe that it’s only a 4-cylinder. It can be stretched from midrange to redline without becoming breathless – this makes it more than adequate for Singapore roads. One can only imagine the kind of performance the 435i variant and its more powerful inline-6 motor would be capable of.
The 8-speed automatic gearbox is a wonderful partner to the 428i motor. It swops cogs smoothly and quickly, but given the 4GC’s potential, I highly recommend selecting Sport mode by sliding the gearshift lever to the left. In this mode, the transmission holds onto each forward ratio a little longer and allows the engine to hit its sweet spot (which is about 4500rpm) more often.
It may be based on the 4 Series Coupe, but despite what BMW would like you to believe, the 4GC still isn’t a “four-door coupe” – it’s actually a very capable sports saloon.
(Update: The 4 Series Gran Coupe has been facelifted and the 428i has been replaced by the 430i Gran Coupe.)
BMW 428i Gran Coupe 2.0 (A)
Type Inline-4, 16-valves, turbocharged
Bore x stroke 84mm x 90.1mm
Compression Ratio 10:1
Max power 245bhp at 5000-6500rpm
Max torque 350Nm at 1250-4800rpm
Power to weight 152.6bhp per tonne
Gearbox 8-speed automatic with manual select
Driven wheels Rear
0-100km/h 6 seconds
Top speed 250km/h
Consumption 15.9km/L (combined)
CO2 emission 147g/km
Front Double wishbones, coil springs,
Rear Multi-link, coil springs
Front / Rear Ventilated discs
Type Bridgestone Potenza S001
Size 225/50 R17
Traction aids ABS, DSC
Kerb weight 1605kg
Turning circle 11.3m
Price incl. COE Not available
Warranty 3 years/100,000km
+ Elegant styling, well-sorted powertrain, great ride/handling balance
– Cramped backseat, reduced boot volume, soft engine soundtrack