The new-for-2015 428i Gran Coupe is probably the neatest variation of the 3 and 4 series. Pair the virtues of BMW’s bulwark car lines with a stylish hatchback body, and you have something that drives well, looks good and feels unique.
If you’re new to thinking about BMW, a quick primer is that the 4 series is the tailored-sport-luxury version of the perennial 3 series, which has delighted many a car enthusiast throughout the years.
The 4 series is a compact car, with the length of a Toyota Corolla and the width of a Ford Focus. This 428i Gran Coupe has a killer app in the form of its long hatchback door. It’s a yawning opening for loading and hauling, and it whumps into a body that appears trim and athletic.
Including the $950 destination charge, the tested 428i Gran Coupe started at $41,750, and extras rode the total to $52,300.
If you wanted all-wheel drive, then you’d pony up another two grand for xDrive.
Options on this car included the $3,500 M Sport package, with its Adaptive M Suspension and 18-inch wheels, and the M Sport Brakes are $650.
One sure cue to the Gran Coupe’s upper-scale chicness is its frameless windows, which have become fashionable. Taller drivers like me appreciate the absence of an occasionally head-thwacking window frame.
Two turbocharged engines to choose from include the test car’s 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder (428i) and a 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 (435i). You’d add $5,500 to the test car’s price for the bigger engine. The four in the test car was a delight, with smoothness that could be confused with a six.
Transmission for both is an eight-speed automatic. Alas, the manual transmission is limited to the 4 series coupe and convertible. If an automatic must be mandatory, then it might as well be this one – it shifted speedily without feeling busy or confused. In our time of knobs and buttons replacing gearshifts, the BMW selector remains one of the better electronic units.
Handling is a longtime 3 series strength, and the 4 series shares it. The tested 428i with the M Sport-specific suspension had some sharp impacts on SF’s rutted streets but made up for it with an overall poise and grace that most cars aspire to have. However if you’re coming from a beloved decade-old 3 series, then you may feel isolated from the proceedings, thanks to electric power steering that points well but keeps a fair amount of what it encounters to itself.
A redemption comes in the form of the $1,000 Dynamic Handling Package, which has the neat Variable Sport Steering, a feature urban dwellers would find essential after the first three-point turn. It employs a gearbox to tighten the steering ratio according to speed, so those quick turns for an opposite-lane parking space are done with just a flick of the wheel. What the steering lacks in detail is partly made up for by the added agility this option provides.
The tested 428i’s Coral Red Dakota leather was striking against the exterior’s Estoril Blue Metallic ($550); it combined to make for a colorful car, something we don’t see much of in our silver-sedaned landscape. The Sport Seats are part of the M Sport package and give great support.
The four-way lumbar support is part of the Premium Package, and the fact that it adjusts vertically as well as horizontally is much appreciated.
The rear seat aligns its dimensions with other compact hatchbacks; the VW Golf by comparison has 1.9 inches more legroom and 0.9 inches more headroom. So the Gran Coupe isn’t the roomiest, but it is in the game, and the backrests fold nearly flat to expand the 17 cubic feet of cargo area behind.
Gauges show their typical BMW simplicity.
The $950 Driver Assistance Package includes Park Distance Control and the Rear View Camera. If I were feeling grumpy, then I’d harumph that these aids should be standard on a compact car at this price point.
There are lots of cars you could buy at the test car’s $52K price. You’d choose this BMW 428i Gran Coupe for its sweetheart combo of style, handling and versatility, all within a parkable package.
We come back to that word ‘unique’ again, because there’s really nothing quite like it. Shame it’s automatic-only, and the price is high, but there would be few regrets with the rest of it.
2015 BMW 428i Gran Coupe
Base Price: $40,300
Price as Tested: $52,300
M Sport: $3,500
18-inch Alloy Wheel M Sport Performance
Adaptive M Suspension
High-Gloss Black Trim Highlight
Aluminum Hexagon Interior Trim
M Steering Wheel
Shadowline Exterior Trim
Premium Package: $2,200
Comfort Access Keyless Entry
Satellite Radio With One Year Subscription
Dynamic Handling Package: $1,000
Variable Sport Steering
Driver Assistance Package: $950
Rear View Camera
Park Distance Control
Side And Top View Camera: $750
M Sport Brakes: $650
Estoril Blue Metallic Paint: $500
Enhanced Bluetooth and Smartphone: $500
Destination Charge: $950
Sporty ride/handling balance
Response that is both supple and direct
Pricey with options
Steering not so communicative