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Driven: BMW 4 Series GC to be mainstream model

Gran designs: The 4 Series Grand Coupe is the third five-door variant of the current F30-generation BMW 3 Series.

Big sales predicted for BMW’s answer to Audi A5 Sportback, the 4 Series Gran Coupe

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20 Jun 2014

BMW says its new 4 Series Gran Coupe is more than just a niche offering and will become a mainstream player in the burgeoning premium mid-size segment in Australia.

Released this week from $70,000, plus on-road costs, for the base 420i Gran Coupe, the five-door liftback version of the 4 Series two-door Coupe is set to steal sales from the Audi A5 Sportback that BMW admits inspired it.

According to BMW Group Australia managing director Phil Horton, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is expected to contribute significantly to his company’s market share aspirations.

“Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder I think, but the combination of styling and the extra functionality you get from the hatchback certainly augurs well for this car,” he said.

“It’s not going to be a niche player… I think there’s good volume potential in this car for the rest of this year and particularly next year.”

While BMW did not reveal projections, it is banking on shifting at least 1000 4 Series Gran Coupes per year – which is about on a par with the two-door F32 Coupe version.

Citing the A5 Sportback’s influence, BMW Australia marketing manager Toni Andreevski added that there is demand for diversity within the class, which resulted in the development of models such as the Gran Coupe and new X4 SUV.

“On a global level the premium medium-size class that this car competes in is the biggest segment in the world for BMW, and obviously there is still further growth predicted,” he said.

“For BMW it is important to continue to bring new products in this part of the market, with the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the X4… and both of those vehicles will help us accomplish that goal… and increase our share in the segment even further.

Again highlighting BMW’s Ingolstadt-based rival, Mr Andreevski said he hoped the new variant would follow the same successful strategy as the 6 Series.

“(The Gran Coupe) helps us fulfil the various customer needs that we’ve identified around the world. And we only have to look at the growing five-door coupe segment to see the potential there.

“For example, the Audi A5 Sportback alone has been purchased by 3800 customers since it was launched in 2010. And they peaked with over 1000 sales in its first full year.

“Now the 4 Series Gran Coupe continues the successful strategy BMW started two years ago with the 6 Series Gran Coupe.”

While admitting that most buyers will come from within the brand, Mr.

Andreevski is confident that the F36 will find customers from beyond the BMW boundaries.

“We see about 40 per cent of sales of this car will come from conquests,” he said. “And 60 per cent will come from within the BMW family. So overall we will see a positive effect.

“And we will see some 3 Series buyers move up to the 4 Series Gran Coupe, but the car was actually intended and designed to do that. Because if we didn’t have the car, maybe those people would go out and buy an Audi A5 Sportback… so the good thing is that they will stay within the BMW family.”

Other rivals Mr Andreevski said were in the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s crosshairs include the Volkswagen CC, Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS.

“The general four/five-door coupe market is growing and it is certainly a place that BMW wants to be in,” he said.

Right now, the 4 Series Gran Coupe spans a $40,000 price range, culminating in the 435i flagship from $109,000 – though word on the street is that an M4 version may be in the pipeline.

At the other end of the range, the 420i Gran Coupe is some $9500 more expensive than its 320i Sedan equivalent.

But BMW says the newcomer shuts the gap completely due to its extra specification, stretching from a motorised tailgate, high-intensity discharge headlights, reversing camera and Professional sat-nav system to the leather and larger 18-inch alloy wheels that the standard Sport Line brings.

Modern and Luxury versions of the latter are also a no-cost alternative.

All models include climate control air-conditioning, electric front seat adjustment, full Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, idle stop, regenerative braking and front and rear parking sensors.

The Gran Coupe is also the first BMW with the option of ConnectedDrive, which includes integrated in-car services and apps via a sim card.

To recap, the 4 Series Gran Coupe features unique sheetmetal from the windscreen back, and carries on the coupe tradition with frameless windows on all doors. Its lowest drag-co efficiency rating is 0.27Cd.

Employing MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear end that has been modified to cope with an extra 100kg of weight, the Gran Coupe is built on the same platform as 3/4 Series, sharing the latter’s 2810mm wheelbase and 1545mm front/1594mm rear tracks.

Steering is an electro-mechanical rack and pinion set-up with Servotronic function as standard a variable system is available for extra money.

Overall length/width/height dimensions are 4638mm, 1825mm and 1362mm respectively, with the Gran Coupe sitting about 10mm shy of the 3 Series Sedan height-wise, but is 112mm taller than the Coupe, to help boost rear-seat headroom.

Equalling the Sedan but bettering the Coupe by 35 litres, cargo volume is rated at 480 litres with the 40/20/40 split-fold backrests in situ, or 1300 litres when folded.

Four TwinPower twin-scroll turbo engines with Valvetronic variable valve technology are available at launch, with the 420i and 428i using a 1997cc 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-petrol unit.

The smaller of the two develops 135kW of power between 5000rpm and 6250rpm and 270Nm of torque between 1250rpm and 4500rpm, for a 0-100km/h-sprint time of 7.6 seconds, a 6.1-litre per 100km fuel consumption average and 142 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions.

Like all of the 4 Series Gran Coupe variants available in Australia, an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddleshifts drives the rear wheels.

None of the all-wheel drive variants offered in other global markets will be imported to Australia.

The expected bestselling 428i from $81,000 delivers 180kW between 5000rpm and 6250rpm, 350Nm between 1250rpm and 4800rpm, has a 6.0-second 0-100km/h time and consumes 6.4L/100km, while emitting 149g/km of CO2.

Meanwhile, $109,000 gets you into the 435i – the only Gran Coupe for now with the classic in-line six-cylinder configuration. This variant produces 225kW at 5800rpm and 400Nm between 1500rpm and 4000rpm for a 100km/h dash of 5.2 seconds, with fuel economy of 7.6L/100km and CO2 emissions of 176g/km.

Finally there is the $72,300 420d with a 2.0-litre common-rail direct-injection four-pot turbo-diesel pumping out 135kW at 4000rpm and 380Nm between 1750rpm and 2750rpm. It returns just 4.6L/100km for a 121g/km.

On the 420i and 420d the standard tyres are 225/45 R18s, with the higher-performance models moving up to 19-inch items. All employ runflat technology so there is no spare wheel.

The Gran Coupe gains a five-star ENCAP crash test rating, aided by a litany of driver-aiding systems including stability and traction control, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Dry Braking Function, Fading Compensation and Start-Off Assistant.

Built in Germany, the Gran Coupe is the third five-door offshoot of the F30-generation 3 Series, and is preceded by the F31 3 Series Touring wagon and F34 3 Series Gran Turismo hatch.

2014 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe pricing*
420i$70,000
420d$72,300
428i$81,000
435i$109,000
*Excludes on-road costs.

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