The BMW 4 Series has been upgraded and is now bigger and better
BMW has been busy upgrading its 4 Series models by making them bigger and, hopefully, better. In total, there are now nine models in the newly revamped 4-Series stable, each powered by a turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine and a super-slick eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. On top of this, comes sharper styling and a new suspension.

My first taste of this new breed of Beamers came in the form of the 420i Gran Coupe. In BMW’s world, even-numbered models (2 Series, 4 Series and 6 Series) are sporty coupes. However, the 420i Gran Coupe is also a four-door model, so most people will consider it a sedan. In fact, it is closely related to the 3-Series sedan. But with the boot lid incorporating the rear glass, this makes it a hatchback. So you could say the 4 Series Gran Coupe is actually a coupe, sedan and hatchback all rolled into one. Confused? Don’t be.

When you set eyes on the 420i Gran Coupe, it definitely looks sporty — with its wider stance, longer wheelbase and elongated lines. The long bonnet and flowing roof line help give it an athletic look, while keeping BMW’s famous design language intact. This is highlighted by the traditional twin headlights at the front end. These are in fact bi-LED headlights that now come as standard.

The rear end also has a low, sporty look that complements the front. Bold horizontal lines and the rearlight cluster help its muscular wheel arches stand out. With a restyled rear bumper added to the new modifications, the 420i Gran Coupe is an elegant beast of a car. On the sides, there are four new wheel designs in sizes of 18in and 19in, which are in proportion to the chunky wheel arches. There are also two new exterior colours to choose from — Sunset Orange or Snapper Rocks Blue — although I was more than happy with my bright-red test-drive model.

Moving on to the drive, the 420i comes with a two litre engine inside its relatively large body and longer wheelbase. This may not sound big enough for a car of this size, but remember — it is turbocharged and this is German engineering. In all the years of test-driving cars, I have never experienced an underpowered BMW. Thankfully, that track record continues. The 420i power plant provides a near-effortless ride, hardly breaking into a sweat as it delivers 184bhp and 270Nm of torque. It will even get you from a standing start to 100kph in under eight seconds. One thing I noticed about this new model was how sturdy it felt, especially at high speeds. This is because changes have been made to the car’s suspension and it shows. The chassis is stiffer, which improves the BMW’s road-handling and cornering at speed.

Inside, there are some nice touches, including lots of chrome and high-gloss black that slap you in the face as a reminder that this is German luxury. Double stitching on the instrument panel is a subtle touch, but adds an element of refinery. There is an abundance of new technology in the 4 Series that has trickled down from the more upmarket and pricier 5 and 7 Series models. This includes the latest Connected Drive functions and an intelligent and cool-looking 3D navigation system. What I really liked was the large tile-style control pads, which can be arranged to suit your preferences. Technology also lends itself to the new multifunctional instruments display, giving the driver a choice of different screens for each driving mode.

Although the Gran Coupe plays on its sporty image, it is surprisingly practical. One nice touch is the motorised tailgate that opens up wide to a luggage section with collapsible rear seats. The Gran Coupe ticks so many boxes with its unique combination of a sporty body, solid ride, German luxury, practicality and upgraded technology. With so much going for it in terms of style and sportiness, it is hard to know who this car is targeted at. It would feel equally at home in the hands of a young professional as it would a couple with young children, especially given its generous boot space. After all, the Gran Coupe is a coupe, sedan and hatchback rolled into one, remember. Perhaps, time for a name change?

BMW 420i GRAN COUPE 2.0
$218,800 including COE
Engine: 1,998cc, 16-valve, inline-four, turbocharged
Power/torque: 184bhp/270Nm
Fuel consumption: 5.8L/100km
0-100kph: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 236kph

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast

This article appeared in Issue 803 (Oct 30) of The Edge Singapore.

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