SEATTLE, September, 16, 2015 — Any car that falls under the branding of “The World’s Ultimate Driving Machine” had better deliver a top-notch driving experience – and with its 428i Gran Coupe, BMW tries to do that for around the $40,000 mark. In a rather interesting use of the word “coupe,” this car is actually a five door hatchback; those looking for a BMW with a trunk will need to consider other models.
Power in our test model was BMW’s formidable 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylindar engine that puts out a respectable 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. There is an optional 3.0-liter inline-six that bumps things up to 300 horsepower and 300 pound feet of torque. It comes standard with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic and the optional all-wheel-drive (XDrive) for an additional $2,000. Like all current BMWs, it’s an electronic shifter that can take a bit to get used to for those unacclimated.
Weighing in at 3664 pounds, this Gran Coupe is just over a 100 pounds heavier than the two door variants and has a fuel mileage rating of 23 around town and up to 34 on the freeway – combined average is 27 miles per gallon. All in all, good economy from a car that will still get you from zero to 60 in under 5.5 seconds and does the quarter-mile around 14-seconds.
There are quite a number of options you can tack onto the base price of $40,300 and this car had was rather decked out. It featured the M sport package which upgrades the wheels to 18-inch alloy “M sport”, an adaptive “M” suspension, aerodynamic kit, anthracite headliner, high-gloss black trim highlights, sport seats, an “M” steering wheel and a shadowline exterior trim.
Take on the cold weather package which is good for a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats along when retractable headlight washers and we’re starting to climb up in price rather sharply. In fact, with the driver assistance package, dynamic handling and premium packages and M sport brakes, this car’s sticker rocketed up to $52,300.
Inside looks great thanks to the “M” package which has a very sporty-looking contrast of colors, nice use of carbon fiber, seats that look and feel great to the touch. There’s a certain minimalist feel to the interior but still has most of all the tech-goodies drivers want these days, sans on-board navigation. The rear seating area is rather accommodating, even for most adults and is quite room and comfortable. Front seats offer tremendous support, even for long drives and do a superb job of holding the occupants in place around corners.
The 6.5-inch screen is not collapsible and is controlled by BMW’s iDrive knob that sits on the middle console between the front seats. It’s rather similar to the controls in current Audis and while it’d be nice to have it augmented with a touch-screen, there are worse control implementations in competing brands.
The audio system is rather no-frills as well. There’s Bluetooth telephony but not Bluetooth audio for streaming music. Its sound-quality is rather good but lacks the clarity and prowess we’ve heard in other audio systems such as the Mark Levinson in some Lexus models.
But where the 428i really delivers is what matters the most to any self-respecting BMW customer- how it drives and feels on the road. Foot into the pedal, quick take-offs, solid feel around the corners and braking.
On our long-distant round-trip to wine-country and back, it offered a rewarding driving experience that never felt fatigued or had us wishing the drive would hurry up and be over with. No, the car beckons the driver to keep the hammer down, sit tight and have fun.
It’s a driver’s car if ever there was one. Call it the “German spirit”, call it “BMW Voodoo” but this car delivers in spades what millions around the world have come to love about this brand. Sure, it could have better gadgets inside for the price point like other cars do – and you can add most of them but at the end of the day, the 428i delivers a balanced car that’s fun to drive, looks great and offers the extra cargo room of a hatchback.
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