BMW will surely be the first to disagree, but I tend to feel that the numerical designation of each series seem roughly predisposed to an age bracket (i.e. 1 to 3 Series for 30-year-olds, 4 Series for 40-somethings, the 5 for 50-year-olds, and the genteel and very dignified 7 Series for the retirees.
There are exceptions, of course—the M Series are obvious ones—but the F36 420d Gran Coupe is perhaps the most glaring. Here is a car that’s priced close to a 3 Series, looks as elegant as a 7, is as sporty as a 6, but surprisingly can be as versatile as any of the Bavarian’s hatchbacks, Touring wagons, or X Series SAV’s. This is one car that seems to transcend all demographic boundaries or limitations.
Breaking numerical barriers
BMW’s current nomenclature designates even-numbered models as coupes and their odd-numbered counterparts as sedans. Again, the Gran Coupe is the exception—it has four doors but its sleek and hunkered-down styling puts in league with the Munich carmaker’s two-doors.
Although it might not look it (my Gran Coupe test unit was once mistaken for a 7 Series because its low-slung styling makes it visually longer), the 420d Gran Coupe shares the 3 Series sedan’s wheelbase and is just 5mm longer. It is noticeably wider (15mm) and lower (25mm), giving it a sportier and more purposeful stance.
Sexy yet versatile
The liftback design not only makes it vastly more practical (the opening is a huge 3’ x 4’, enough to swallow a mountain bike with the rear seats folded—try that in a sedan), it also gives the Gran Coupe a very graceful profile. It is arguably the most beautiful four-door in BMW’s extensive range of models.
Thankfully, the coupe-like profile does not come at the usual expense of headroom. True, rear-seat headroom might be a tad tight for six-footers; but that shouldn’t be a problem for a vast number of possible occupants. Even with the driver’s seat at its max highest position, there is still headroom for people up to 5’10 tall. The only concession to coupe-dom is that a center rear-seat passenger will have to sit with legs splayed across the huge center tunnel. The bucket seat-like contouring of the rear seats is also biased for two passengers. But overall, it’s a beautiful cabin with the expected luxury and creature comforts you’d expect in a luxury car in its price point.
Fast yet frugal
Performance? A 7.3-second 0-100 km/h sprint and a 240-km/h top speed. Those are serious performance numbers, especially for a big and heavy luxury car that sips diesel fuel so sparingly (try 10 km/li. in heavy city traffic and over 20 km/li. in all-too-rare cruising speeds). Truly having your cake and eating it, too.
If you want to enjoy all the traditional sporting and luxurious attributes of a BMW but need to meet the demands of family and an active lifestyle—while still looking good—this is the BMW for you. A jack of all trades can be a master of all—after all.