Even at first sight, it’s obvious that the Gran Coupe is part of the 3- and 4 Series family; indeed, from the front grille as far back as the windscreen pillar, the Gran Coupe is identical to the Coupe. Beyond that, BMW obsessives will spot that the Gran Coupe’s front doors are a little smaller than the Coupe’s to allow room for the biggest difference between the two models: rear doors. As well as that, the Gran Cope’s rear roofline is a little higher – to create more room for rear-seat passengers – while the rear end is a hatchback. All in all, it’s a smart car, even if – to our eyes at least – it looks more like the 3 Series saloon than a genuine coupe, and as a result isn’t perhaps as distinctive a model in its own right as it could be.
Step inside, and it’s all familiar fare from the existing 3- and 4 Series range: the cabin is smart and well ordered, with plenty of space and most of the functions controlled by the excellent iDrive system. It’s all well built, too, and there are no complaints about the driving position, with plenty of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel. If there is a criticism, it’s that BMW now takes second place to Audi for cabin quality.
The Gran Coupe is certainly more practical than the 4 Series Coupe, but that doesn’t mean it’s a full-on family car. In fact, even with the shrunken front doors, the rear doors are quite small, so larger passengers will find it a bit a bit of a squeeze getting in; and, once they’re there, they’ll find space a little tight, especially if the front seat passengers have their seats pushed well back. Similarly, although there are three seats in the back, this isn’t really a five-seater, as the centre seat is narrow and space for feet severely restricted by the transmission tunnel in the floor. On the other hand, the Gran Coupe’s boot is bigger than the Coupe’s and easier to access because of the hatchback rear. Then again, if you do want more space and practicality, your BMW salesperson will happily point you in the direction of one of the 3 Series models: the regular saloon, the Touring (estate) or the Gran Turismo, with its slightly higher, crossover-like driving position.
Ride and handling
Every model in the 3 and 4 Series ranges is superb to drive – and the Gran Coupe is no exception. There’s something about the balance between ride and handling, and between comfort and control, that BMW does better than anyone else. Everything from the crispness of the controls to the smoothness of the gearbox feels just right. Fun in the bends, but still quiet and comfortable on the motorway, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is a cracking car to drive, no matter where and how you’re driving it.
There’s a huge range of engines in the Gran Coupe range, including a 418d targeted at the company car market and which isn’t available in the Coupe. It’s the least powerful model in the line-up, but it still gives decent performance. With company drivers expected to find the car particularly attractive, it’s no surprise that the diesel-engined models are expected to be the biggest sellers, and the 420d provides a fine blend of easy performance and good economy. Mind you, if you expect a coupe to be rather more performance-focused, you’ll find what just you want in the 428i or 435i.
Not only is there a wide range of Gran Coupes to choose from, including four-wheel drive versions and a fleet-friendly 418d that isn’t available in either the coupe or convertible ranges (with CO2 emissions from 121g/km), the Gran Coupe costs the same as the regular Coupe. In fact, across the range, you’ll find good economy and emissions, while the car’s exclusive nature should ensure strong residual values, keeping whole-life costs down.
Although figures from Warranty Direct mark the 4 Series down for reliability, that seems to be because of the cost – rather than the frequency – of repairs. The Gran Coupe shares much of its platform and running gear with the existing 3- and 4 Series ranges, and by far the majority of Owner Reviews on our website only have good words to say about the cars’ reliability.
The Gran Coupe shares the same specification as the Coupe, so every model comes with a Thatcham 1 category alarm system, front, side and curtain airbags, dynamic stability control and run flats with tyre pressure warning system. You also get child car seat ISOFIX attachment points in the front and rear, plus passenger airbag deactivation.
Across the range, standard equipment levels are very good. Every model comes with alloy wheels, a DAB radio, dual-zone air-conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, Bluetooth, cruise control and an electrically operated tailgate. Six-cylinder models also get electric front seats, while all but SE have sport seats, and sat-nav is standard on Luxury and M Sport models.
The simple reason for wanting a Gran Coupe is that it blends stylish looks, a sporty drive and decent practicality. Trouble is, the distinction between BMW’s models is very fine; and, to untrained eyes, the Gran Coupe looks remarkably similar to the 3 Series saloon – which is more spacious for rear-seat passengers, costs several thousand pounds less and, thanks to its lower list price, is cheaper on company car tax. That could be enough to sway potential buyers, but then again they may be tempted by the Gran Coupe’s greater exclusivity…