Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 7, 2018
The BMW 4 Series was slightly refreshed for 2018, and remains largely unchanged for the 2019 model year. That prior revision included new LED head- and tail-lights, reworked four- and six-cylinder engines, re-tuned steering and suspension upgrades, and a redesigned rear end that even diehard BMW enthusiasts would fail to notice. New paints, wheel designs, and upholstery colours round up the changes, as well as a new leather wrap for the steering wheel that offers better grip.
The 4 Series comes in two engine flavours, 430i and 440i, and each are available in three body styles: two-door coupe, four-door coupe, and cabriolet. Despite the fact that the BMW 4 Series has been on the market for six years now, this is actually my first time behind the wheel of the Gran Coupe (GC). Think of it like a 3 Series but with a raked back roofline, a hatchback liftgate, and a wider and sportier stance. There’s even a little “Gran Coupe” script perched on the C-pillar.
In 430i guise, a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four sits under the hood pushing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. For the GC, RWD and a manual gearbox are off the table. Be that as it may, this four-pot loves to rev and screams right up to the 7,000 rpm redline without any hiccups. The power is sufficient though a tad weak in the low range when the turbo is busy spooling and trying to launch this heavy 1,713 kg sedan off the line. 0-100 km/h comes in a decent 5.9 seconds, compared to 5.0 seconds in the more powerful 440i with its straight-six engine. That engine is much more powerful and dishes out 320 hp and 330 lb-ft. If you have the means, choose the 440i instead. Power delivery is as silky as it gets, and the 440i exhibits the vocal cords of a goddess with the optional M Performance Exhaust.
The suspension is slightly firmer than previous models but the 430i rides well through town, absorbing enough of the potholes without feeling floaty or overly damped. The steering is still numb and in Sport+ Mode, it’s way too artificially heavy to feel sporty at all. Nevertheless, the 430i has a natural tendency to stay flat when taking corners, and gives the driver a delicate sense of confidence and control no matter the speed. The front nose is reactive and eager to bite, and you really have to dig deep for the wheels to break traction. If I had to choose a sports sedan to carve up a switchback road, I would be taking this 430i over the Mercedes C 300 or Audi A4 any day of the week.
However, what irked me the most was the transmission. This 8-speed ZF is used in a plethora of BMW models and it has never bothered me before. But for some reason, the 430i’s gearbox seems to be singing at a different frequency than the engine. The shifts aren’t as snappy as other variants, and the 430i will violently lug and jerk forward when shifting gears higher in the powerband, almost like the feeling when you dump the clutch at the wrong RPM. I’m not sure if it’s a clutch issue (the odometer read 8,000 km) or a transmission tune issue, but the vibrations are felt in all gears. It was less pronounced in Comfort Mode and unnoticeable when leisurely cruising below 80 km/h through town but when in Sport mode, it’s disruptive and concerning.
The interior is dated no doubt, but I still find it a pleasant and enjoyable place to spend time in. If you want to know what the next 4 Series interior will look like, check out the BMW X5 or the new 3 Series interior for clues With hatchback styling, the 4 GC gains a noticeable advantage over the 3 Series when it comes to storage space, especially when the rear seats are folded down. The tradeoff is that the roofline cuts away at precious headroom, and it’s not like the rear accomodations in the 3 Series was anything to write home about either. The rear windshield is also much smaller but still very usable, especially in combination with the available 360-degree camera display.
Buyers in the market for a premium sports sedan will undoubtedly cross shop between the 3 Series and 4 Series Gran Coupe despite both of them branching from the same family tree. However I believe the 4 GC is slightly better in every aspect except for rear seat headroom and most importantly, price. The 4 GC is more expensive than the 3 Series, which might explain why buyers may be flocking to the 3 instead of the 4. Could be the same reason why BMW hasn’t made an M4 Gran Coupe either - cannibalism of sales. Let’s not forget about the 3 Series Touring (wagon) either, for those who deem cargo space to be their top priority. BMW gets a lot of flak for carving out niches out of niches but in their endeavours, they have a vehicle for anyone and everyone. Better too many choices than too few.
Model: 2019 BMW 430i xDrive Gran Coupe
Paint Type: Estoril Blue
Base Price: $53,250
Price as Tested: $61,250
Curb weight (kg): 1,713
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower: 248 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,450 - 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.5 / 7.4 / 9.1
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.9