When BMW Philippines launched the 4 Series coupe with a four cylinder diesel a few months ago, many of us thought they must have gone a little mad to tamper with such a great combination of a well engineered rear wheel drive chassis and the ever evocative straight six gasoline engine.
After spending some time in the 2014 BMW 420d Sport Coupe, we can clearly see why.
The last time we drove a BMW coupe was the 2008 BMW 325i Coupe; personally I liked its handling, its design and the performance of its 2.5-liter inline-6 motor under that long hood. To the unfamiliar, the 4 Series is actually the replacement of the 3 Series Coupe. Previously BMW had coupe, convertible, sedan and wagon body types under 3 Series banner and platform but for the new generation, BMW has opted to segregate the 2-door models and drop-tops under the 4 Series banner. Unusually, the 4 Series also includes a 4-door “coupe”; yes, we were a little confused by that too.
One glance at the 2014 420d and it's easy to spot that this is BMW is not meant for company car fleets or chauffeurs. Instead what you get is a sleek German coupe that's designed for the business of driving pleasure. The kidney grilles, the highly detailed projector headlamps with angel eyes, the purposeful aerodynamic lower bumper, the long sloping bonnet, the two long doors, the sleek coupe silhouette and the short rear deck all speak volumes that this is a machine meant to grab attention whether it's sitting still or moving on the open road.
Open the doors and you're greeted by a premium interior that is signature BMW. Everything feels great to the touch from the soft surfaces to the piano black accents and red inserts. The dashboard and the architecture is actually identical to the 3 Series sedan; it's simple and intuitively laid out, two characteristics you would always want in a car. I do wish that BMW did something more to up the ante on the 420d Coupe over the sedan, particularly the steering wheel.
Nevertheless, it's a proper place to be in for 2 people up front and 2 people (preferably smaller) in the back. The front seats are adjusted electrically and even feature adjustable side bolsters to fit most body sizes. What's surprising about the 4 Series Coupe is that it actually has ample trunk space; yes, it can fit a golf set.
With the key in my pocket, I press the start button and the engine at the heart of the 420d judders to life; I say 'judders' because, after all, this is still a diesel. Mind you, this oil burner (designated the BMW N47D20) is no slouch thanks to BMW's engine tech and twin turbo forced induction. As a result, the 420d gets 184 horsepower and 380 Newton-meters of torque. All that is coursed to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
In the city, the 420d is surprisingly comfortable; I say surprisingly because sports coupes aren't exactly engineered for a plush ride. Vibration, noise and harshness suppression are impressive qualities, though the idling stop system (for better economy) can be annoying in traffic with the diesel, so I opted to shut that off. That said, the 420d achieved superb economy numbers: 15.2 km/l at a 15 km/h average in heavy traffic.
On the highway is where the BMW 420d Coupe truly shines. The stability of the 420d at speed is great, and lane changes can be done with utter confidence.The 2.0L diesel and 8-speed gearbox can easily accelerate the 420d from 0-100 km/h in about 7 and a half seconds and achieve a top speed of 229 km/h, though we do not recommend doing the latter on public roads.
Enter a winding road and you'll realize where BMW paid plenty of attention to, as the 420d Coupe Sport is as agile as they come. Body and roll control are excellent for its weight. Braking, turn-in, mid-corner stability and acceleration out of the apex are impressive traits of the 4 Series, and it does it all while sipping a minimum of fuel. Also of note is the response of the 8-speed automatic either as a full automatic via Sport mode or as a semiautomatic via the paddles.
While many like myself still has the preference for the old BMW inline six engines (i.e. the E92 325i Coupe), the new 420d does do its lineage plenty of justice. Style, substance, economy and performance were all sorted and sorted well by BMW's engineers. At just under PhP 4M, the BMW 420d Coupe Sport proves itself to be a proper and dignified 2-door coupe for the gentleman but with the performance to back it up.