Grand Designs – BMW 420i Gran Coupe

There is a TV program that goes out of its way to show you some of the most elaborate, intricate and elegant building designs on the planet. It’s a place for people to not only conjure up some illustrious and far-fetched (they call it unique) projects but to then set about building them. Vision, sketch, design, plan, and build – from start to the (sometimes bitter) end. I have on the odd occasion (when channel surfing) landed on a few episodes and have had mixed emotions about the designs, there are a few that I would gladly move into tomorrow and never leave and there are others that I’m pleased I hadn’t eaten before watching the episode. However; the ones I find the most intriguing are where they’ve spend so much of their attention on the outside and positioning but seem to have run out of steam on what lies beneath – sort of sizzles on the outside but the rest remains wanting so to speak. 

To me, there are many crossovers between homes and cars, they both inspire emotion and you do tend to spend a fair amount of time in each, so my observations on the property program easily carries through to reviewing cars and in particular my week with BMW’s 420i Gran Coupe

The Gran Coupe BMW loaned be was dressed in pure white with jet black trim. From its curvier kidneys to the flick of its tail spoiler it’s every bit the head turner. The bonnet has an accentuated raise that hints towards a giant heart being barely contained within and 5 spoke alloys adorn each corner. Below its elongated roofline, its pronounced shoulder line carves straight and true down its sleek long body and its deep red tail lights sneak round to join it. Frameless windows and a one piece tailgate enhance its appeal I really have to say that I really like its wide road stance.

The interior is typically BMW, the cockpit is very familiar territory for anyone that has stepped inside a modern Beemer. The leather seats are supportive and (I know from experience) great for long runs, the infotainment is intuitive and provides rich sounds plus – although they have a modern flair – the instrument dials are timelessly BMW.

The 420i has push button start (with eco start/stop) and an auto box that never misses a beat. On the road and in comfort, the ride is smooth and quiet, it navigates around the city with ease (despite being a fairly large car) and excels on the highway – Cruise control is easy to find and engage; and with the heated seats on full, you simply relax and enjoy the ride.

Sport mode tightens up the steering and suspension and starts to give the corners a run for the money but the engine note fails to trigger which I found a little disappointing. While on the subject of the engine…

The 420i has the latest twin power 2L turbo engine under its sculptured bonnet. It delivers its 135kW of power and 270Nm of torque smoothly and efficiently (5.8L/100) – not a hit of foam from my cappuccino was lost pulling away at the lights – and therein lies my problem, the 420i is maybe just a little too soft. I’m not saying that every car should bite or strike terror in the hearts of your passengers (I admit that the last BMW I was behind the wheel of was the M2 so no hint of comparison there) but I at least wanted the 420i to growl a little or maybe show its teeth on the odd occasion – it didn’t.

As a day to day car, it’s lovely. It has all the style and glamour on the outside and the practicality of the large boot area (with easy tailgate access). From work to play it’s a car that will get you noticed and you’ll be pleased to have on your driveway. However, I really get the feeling that the 2L is not enough of a power source for a vehicle of this size and that before too long you’ll have wished that you taken up the 3.5L option.

Although I haven’t tested it yet, in my opinion the 435i wouldn’t just be a Gran Coupe, it would be a Grand Coupe!

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