When BMW launched a coupe and convertible version of its latest 3 Series sedan, the German automaker rechristened the two-door versions 4 Series to help distinguish the models. Now, though, that distinctive becomes a little muddier, as the 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe debuts with four doors.
The main difference between the BMW 3 Series sedan and the 4 Series Gran Coupe is that the latter has a prettier, more coupe-like silhouette. Though it is the same length, width, and wheelbase as the two-door coupe, the Gran Coupe has a 0.5-inch taller roofline to provide extra headroom for the rear passengers. (BMW classifies the car as a 4+1, signaling that the middle rear seat is suitable only for children.)
The other key difference is that the Gran Coupe is a hatchback, with a cargo area that is more spacious (by 1.3 cubic feet) than that of a 4 Series coupe. Folding the rear seats expands the Gran Coupe's carrying capacity to 45.9 cubic feet.
Visually, the 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe has much in common with its two-door parent. The drooping nose wears BMW's kidney grilles and squinting, narrow headlights, leading into a sharply creased hood. The "Air Breather" aerodynamic aids behind the front wheel arches are present, as is a rising swage line that cuts through both door handles and terminates just before meeting the wraparound taillights. The roofline on the Gran Coupe is 4.4 inches longer than that of the two-door, and slopes gently down to the stubby decklid. BMW says the Gran Coupe receives specific bracing to keep it as taut as the two-door models, and that its suspension is tuned differently for the same reason.
A Familiar DuoJust like the 4 Series coupe and convertible, and 3 Series sedan, the 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe comes in two basic flavors. The 428i and 428i xDrive use a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine rated at 240 hp, providing a claimed 0-to-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds. The 435i, meanwhile, has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six good for 300 hp and a 4.9-second 0-60 sprint. An xDrive all-wheel-drive version of the 435i will follow at the end of this year.
An eight-speed automatic transmission and auto stop-start are standard on both models. Fuel economy is expected to closely mirror the 4 Series coupe, although final EPA numbers aren't yet ready.
Another area in which the 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe resembles its two-door siblings is in its trim levels. BMW will offer the car in its familiar Luxury, Sport, and M Sport derivatives. The Luxury line brings chrome grille slates, window trim, and air breather trim; multi-spoke 18- or 19-inch wheels; a high-gloss exhaust tip and rear bumper trim piece; and interior leather color choices that include saddle brown and a 4 Series Gran Coupe-exclusive ivory white.
Opting for the Sport line brings gloss-black exterior trim components, split-spoke wheels, and red interior accents. The next step up is the M Sport line, which adds mechanical upgrades like new aerodynamic aids, M-specific wheels, an M Sport suspension, and optional M Sport brakes with larger, blue-painted calipers.
The 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe also benefits from the same safety and convenience technologies as other new BMW models. A color head-up display, a self-parking function, adaptive cruise control, a blind-sport warning system, full-LED headlights, and a 360-degree camera system are all available, as is an Active Driving Assistant that can warn of an impending collision with a car or pedestrian.
Pricing for the new car is very close to that of a standard 4 Series coupe. The 2015 BMW 428i Gran Coupe starts at $41,225, including destination, which is $200 less than a 428i coupe;the 428i xDrive Gran Coupe is $43,225, and the 435i Gran Coupe costs $46,725. After its debut in March at the 2014 Geneva auto show, the 4 Series Gran Coupe will appear at the 2014 New York auto show in April before going on sale in the U.S. this summer.