The 2018 calendar year is turning to be the year of BMW for me. Never in the past have I driven so many Bimmers in a single year. I never did book the new M5 for reasons that will haunt me forever, nor did I attempt to drive the i8 Roadster, which is a car that’s of little interest to me. I do get (I hope I still do) BMW’s second greatest car of the past 15 years, the M2 in a few weeks.
All of these BMWs parked one after the other my driveway means that the German luxury carmaker is doing very well. In fact, it remains the most overall profitable car maker in the world in 2018. It’s also the second largest luxury car builder in volume after only Mercedes-Benz. How bad do you think they want to claim the top spot? This too explains why there so many BMWs to go around.
I was looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the 4 Series GC as it was the only fixed-roof 4 Series I’d not driven, and the prettiest by far. I’m a sucker for anything with a hatch especially when there are four doors ahead of it.
The Gran Coupé (4 or 6) is the second most attractive body style from BMW after the 3 Series wagon… In all seriousness, the BMW’s simple unobstructed lines are pleasing and calming. They strike a perfect balance between exclusivity and dynamism. The frameless doors are somehow magical to boot. Estoril Blue can also transform an ogre into a Henry Cavil.
The cabin is your typical BMW fare with a spot for all controls, with excellent fit, finish and an eye for detail. The 8.8-inch screen is tops in size, positioning and graphics. Once behind the wheel, the 2019 430i feels like home, and a properly fitting glove. There are numerous surfaces and textures but BMW knows how to make it all work together.
Like golfing? For some reason, you don’t want a station wagon, or a crossover? The 4 Series Gran Coupé offers up a huge trunk. It can swallow a pair of golf bags and a buggy or two. The power hatch is a nice touch as well.
Getting in and out of the second row does not require a helmet despite the rearward slopping roofline. Once in place however, best you not be over 5’10” tall as your head will rub against the headliner. The bench itself is designed to carry two humans. The front perches are supportive and comfortable. Here, there’s far more room for all appendages.
Storage spots, on the other hand, are very limited. Once the cupholders are occupied with your lattes on the way to the Club, your phones and whatnots will have to be dropped in the door bins.
The discussion you need to have with yourself when shopping the 4 Series Gran Coupé is whether or not spending $10,000 more for a 430i xDrive over a 330i xDrive is really worth it. The comparison is simpler to digest if you were thinking about opting for the Sport Automatic transmission option.
At $53,250, the base car is still well equipped but if you make the mistake of select one extra item on the menu, the price shoots up faster than SNL’s ratings when they take a swing at Trump.
My tester featured the Premium Package Enhanced (heated steering wheel and rear seats, comfort access, active blind spot detection, head’s up display, SiriusXM, Harman Kardon audio and fully digital instrument display) and active cruise control for a total of $61,250.
As much as I love BMW’s turbocharged straight-6 cylinder engines, I think the boosted 4-pots are the way to go. In the 430i, the 2.0-litre produces 248-horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 258 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,450 to 4,800 rpm. With the standard Sport Automatic transmission and xDrive AWD, the car will reach 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds.
The car’s also quite frugal for the size and performance potential. Averaging 9L/100 km is easy to achieve but to be honest, there was something wrong with my tester that would have me averaging 0L/100 km, if you catch my drift…
This car’s steering was off. I’m convinced this weird assistance issue is limited to this one unit so there’s no need to be alarmed. Whether all the active safety features were on or off, the car’s steering would arbitrarily kick in or back off – it was incredibly annoying, but not alarming. I did also notice some odd vibrations underfoot on occasion and got the impression that I was driving a lesser car than what I was expecting.
The 2.0-litre is plenty powerful for merging and passing regardless of the drive mode. What I love about this Bimmer’s Sport mode is that it is configurable where chassis and powertrain can be setup independently from one another. The ride quality is excellent as is overall handling, which is par for the course with BMW. The brakes are powerful. The steering though…
In the end, as much as I love the 430i GC’s styling and performance, my money would go on an A5 Sportback. It’s roomier, even more stylish and has a little more bite under the bonnet.