By: IOL Motoring Staff
It has been a decade since Mercedes-Benz launched its first-generation CLS and by now there should be nothing strange about a car with back doors being called a coupé.
While BMW now rivals the CLS with its own 6 Series Gran Coupé, that portfolio has been extended a notch down the pecking order with the new 4 Series Gran Coupé. Yet unlike its bigger brother, the 'fastback' 4 Series GC has five doors and you can think of it as a somewhat direct rival to Audi's A5 Sportback. This is a '4+1' seater with a generous 480-litre boot volume and its main aim in life is to offer you the best possible blend between practicality and style.
Now that we've got any potential identity confusion out of the way, let's take a look at what it has to offer. The 4 Series GC is now available to style-conscious South Africans, offering a choice of three petrol engines and one diesel - all turbocharged.
A pair of two-litre direct injection TwinPower turbopetrol engines kick-start the range with the 420i offering 135kW and the 428i providing a 180kW punch. The top dog is BMW's 3-litre TwinPower 435i, which develops 225kW/400Nm and sprints to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds; versus 6.1 seconds for the 428i and 7.5 seconds in the case of the 420i.
The most frugal option is the 135kW/380Nm 420d, for which BMW claims a 4.7 l/100km combined consumption and a 7.7 second 0-100km/h run.
Drive is, the BMW way, through the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or eight-speed Steptronic autobox, the latter also offering a sport variant complete with flappy paddles.
SO WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Minesh Bhagaloo recently drove the GC on its international launch in Spain and said that the 428i he drove felt no heavier than its two-doored sibling, the car: “exhibiting the same sharp handling attributes and meaty steering feedback as the coupé.
“The additional doors have made this Four very rear-passenger friendly, with sufficient leg and headroom – while the wide-access boot is generous in terms of space,” Bhagaloo concluded.
TRIMS & GADGETS
That's really just the beginning of the choices ahead as in addition to the usual glut of optional gadgets, you have the choice of three special equipment packages and an even racier M Sport package.
That gadget list includes the latest array of ConnectedDrive options, tempting you with gizmos like Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, full-colour Head-Up Display, Navigation System Professional, Driving Assist and High Beam Assist.
Of course, this all comes over and above the standard prices, which start just shy of the half a million mark:
BMW 4 SERIES GRAN COUPE
420i - R483 875
420d - R512 810
428i - R558 388
335i - R717 940