BMW 3 Series 2014 Review
In Europe the phrase ‘grand touring’, later shortened to GT, was coined in the 1930s to describe cars owned by wealthy people for fast point to point travel while cosseting their passengers in luxury.
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
Sorry, there are no cars that match your search
Sorry, there are no cars that match your search
When you've got as many cars as the big three German companies, it's inevitable that one or two of the niche models will fall into the cracks of a comprehensive range. In BMW's case, it doesn't help that the increasingly bewildering model-naming style forces some cars out of public consciousness.
This seems to have happened to the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Sure, it hasn't been around very long and doesn't have the advantage of a full-house M version like the 3 or 4 Coupe to let people know about it, but it kind of snuck in and hid down the back.
It doesn't belong there because despite the slinky shape, this is a reasonably practical car with knockout looks.
Despite its low-key arrival, the Gran Coupe has a reasonable range from which to choose. Starting at around $80,000 you can have the petrol 420i, move on to the diesel 420d, mid-spec petrol 428i and then on to the top of the range, the $109,000 435i Gran Coupe M Sport.
In other markets you can get the same car with a 3.0-litre turbodiesel and all-wheel drive if you so choose, but here in Australia, it's rear-wheel drive only.
Our car was the top of the range 435i, powered by the sweet 3.0-litre turbo six.
Along with that engine you get an eight-speed ZF transmission with M steering wheel-mounted paddles, BMW's Connected Drive, bi-xenon headlights, remote central locking, electric tailgate, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, anti-dazzle rear vision mirrors, leather trim, electric front seats with driver's seat memory and electric lumbar support.
Added to our car was metallic paint ($1840); glass sunroof ($2920); driving assistant ($900), surround view cameras ($1300), heads up display ($1700) and Connected Drive Freedom ($1200), which adds real time traffic to the sat-nav and other helpful bits and pieces we used to call telematics.
This is really where it's at. The Gran Coupe is, in my mind, the prettiest car BMW makes. The German giant makes some striking cars, some dramatic cars and one or two ugly ones, but the Gran Coupe takes the themes from the big brother 6 and puts them in the right size and proportions.
The 4 Series nose rises to the A-pillar, keeps going over a very fat B-pillar and then makes a long shallow dive the way a Jaguar XF's roof does. The 19-inch wheels, frameless windows and low ride height give it almost a supercar stance.
Inside is pure 4 Series up front but with a more accommodating back seat, a set of rear doors and a headroom-restricted roofline. Having said that, it's way more comfortable than the 6 Series GC, with more room in every direction, including being able to get your feet under the front seat.
The Gran Coupe carries six airbags, ABS, brake force distribution and corner brake control and dynamic stability and traction control.
The 3 and 4 Series on which the Gran Coupe is based scored 5 EuroNCAP stars.
An 8.8-inch screen pokes out of the dashboard and displays functionality for the Harmon Kardon sound, sat-nav, bluetooth and USB.
The big iDrive rotary controller sits on the central console and there are controls on the steering wheel for volume and track selection.
There's also DAB radio, the excellent professional sat-nav and you can try and scribble your address using the pad on top of the iDrive controller if you're left-handed.
BMW's 3.0-litre straight-six makes yet another welcome appearance in the 435i. In this car it produces 225kW and 400Nm, with BMW claiming 7.6L/100km fuel economy and a 0-100km/h time of 5.2 seconds.
The brilliant eight-speed ZF sends the power through to the rear wheels.
Fuel saving features include auto stop/start, brake energy regeneration and a user-selectable Eco Pro mode.
The Gran Coupe isn't a corner-hunting stealth bomber, but in true BMW style has an excellent handling balance. The M Sport pack doesn't do anything harmful to the ride, save perhaps for some jiggle on poor surfaces from the 19-inch wheels.
Normal city driving is a doddle - the brawny engine surfs along quite happily in Eco Pro mode, with the eight-speed shifting seamlessly between gears. On the freeway, four passengers (or a squeezy five) won't notice much noise apart from a bit of tyre roar from the fat 255 section rubber.
Turn off the freeway and onto the fun stuff and the Gran Coupe is a balanced, fun car to drive. With everything switched off you can get up to a fair bit of mischief but the comparatively soft set up means you'll have to bear with the mildest of body roll.
Despite the softer springing and damping, the nose still dives into corners and both ends respond to throttle, brake and steering as one. Sport mode is very finely judged in the Gran Coupe, making sure the car is never anything but a speedy conveyance.
It's so liveable - to find genuine fault is difficult for any style of driver. Only really keen drivers might find the chassis a bit soft, but their passengers won't complain.
|435i||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$32,990 – 60,000||2014 BMW 4 Series 2014 435i Pricing and Specs|
|428i Luxury Line||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$31,998 – 40,888||2014 BMW 4 Series 2014 428i Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|
|428i Modern Line||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$37,555 – 49,990||2014 BMW 4 Series 2014 428i Modern Line Pricing and Specs|
|420d Sport Line||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$29,586 – 42,888||2014 BMW 4 Series 2014 420d Sport Line Pricing and Specs|