By now, most car enthusiasts are familiar with the new regime of nomenclature over at BMW. A 3 or 5 Series is a four-door sedan, 4 or 6 Series is a two-door, um, coupe. Even if you didn’t know that, you probably know that a coupe is a two-door. So if I’m driving a 428i xDrive Gran Coupe, I see that it’s a 4 Series and also labeled a Coupe – so this will be a two-door, right? Wrong.
These Gran Coupes are not two doors. Maybe BMW thought that having two designators of a two-door means they should multiply them and came up with four? That doesn’t work, this one has five doors – it’s technically a hatch. Confused yet?
The 428i xDrive Gran Coupe is an all-wheel-drive hatchback sedan coupe. Does that help? No? It didn’t help me, either. BMW’s quest for diversity and a broad base has it delving deep into automotive niches. They’ve realized that while everyone wants lion statues on the gates of their cottage driveway, no two cottages should have the same lions. And so, BMW is making many, many lions.
Despite all the confusion and jargon though, BMW has stumbled on a winner here. The swooping roofline is a gorgeous profile, the four doors are useful for small families, and the sloped hatch is a surprisingly practical cargo receptacle.
It really is a stunning car with sporty, sleek lines that invoke speed and luxury and had more than one passerby stopping for a third look and a chat. Jonathan even spotted a high-schooler gawking pointing it out to all his friends. The sharp lighting accents at dusk only improve the visual impact projected by the Gran Coupe, and I’ll admit to gazing upon it lovingly whenever I walked towards it.
2015 BMW 428i Gran Coupe, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
BMW’s much-touted driving dynamics are present and accounted for, too. It’s a genuinely lovely car to drive despite the flaws inherent in a hatch versus “proper” sedan, like the way suspension noise is amplified. The lack of bracing in between the C-Pillars and the larger surface areas facing into the passenger compartment play a part in transmitting suspension crashes into the cockpit. I noticed the extra noise and crashiness immediately, remarking to my colleague that “this is not reminiscent of the BMW I know and love.” After a couple of days I got used to it; I think the juxtaposition of the luxury-brand BMW roundel and the suspension noises in the cabin was what really threw me. The steering wheel is still as direct as a BMW should be and the car handles with precision and composure (despite the noises from underneath). The xDrive powertrain does generate understeer, but you can drive around it with a little slower entry speed and more mid-corner throttle.
That throttle, by the way, is attached to a turbocharged inline-four with 241 hp at 5,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft between 1,450 and 4,800. Its engine note is crisp and clean, but subdued.