The prettier twin
BMW recently announced two new ranges, the 2-Series and 4-Series. These follow in the footsteps of other even-numbered models to designate coupé and cabriolet vehicles. With the bizarre exception of gran coupés, this makes a lot of sense and we keenly welcomed a 420i to our test fleet.
The 4-Series is essentially a two-door 3-Series, much like any new 2-Series is based on the 1-Series. Sharing everything from platforms to interior components, you wouldn’t be wrong to view a 420i as the 320i’s prettier twin. Something for childless purveyors of fine design and elegant touring.
It’s not exactly good value when BMW charges you about N$67,500 to remove the two rear doors but the resulting shape is just so graceful. Slightly longer, a bit lower with a beautiful window-line and big doors, you’re trading space (the 445L boot is 35L smaller than in a 3-Series) for elegance.
Most comparable dimensions of a 420i interior are also down on its four-door siblings but front passengers can remedy that by moving their seats towards the unoccupied rear. Should you wish to use the rear bench, be advised that space is slightly limited for two adults; even more so if they’re tall or bring a friend.
The cabin layout is also similar to the donor sedan yet it shows the same amount of extra streamlining and style as the 420i’s exterior. Someone noted that the centre air vents looked like nasty plastic but I couldn’t agree – all modern BMW’s have qualitative materials and what seems like a durable level of craftsmanship.
Should stylish design not be enough to extract your extra investment, BMW sweetens the 4-Series with additional luxury and convenience features over and above standard items like auto (Xenon) lights and wipers, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking and driver aids like ABS and stability control.
Other goodies such as 18-inch alloys, chrome trim, ambient lighting and fancy door sills can be found in the various options packages, our test car being a Luxury Line. Finished in metallic dark blue, everyone took great delight at how well it contrasted the caramel brown and black leather trim of the cabin.
BMW South Africa offers many more options and fitted almost all of them to this vehicle. The ones I was quite fond of and highly recommend are keyless access (N$7,200), head-up display (N$14,500), Harman/Kardon sound system (N$9,800) and the big daddy hard-drive navigation system (N$22,200).
Another recommendation is the 8-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox with Driving Experience Control. This system lets you adjust the car’s performance, steering, and damping response to ECO PRO, Comfort and Sport. The difference it makes to the car’s character is quite profound and each setting has its own merits.
ECO PRO encourages frugal driving while Comfort is best suited to this stylish cruiser; despite the front end bottoming out quite quickly. Select Sport mode and the 420i becomes wide-eyed and busy-tailed, the diluted traction control teaming up with harder steering and damping to provide additional driving enjoyment.
The steering wheel’s central hub obscures some of the instruments and a set of shift paddles would’ve been nice, yet that BMW gear lever provides tip shifting and even works in the correct manner: forwards for down, backwards for up. For the occasional spurt of naughtiness in a classy cruiser, it works just fine.
Providing just enough fire power for such wickedness is the 2-litre four cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering maximum figures of 135kW or 270Nm to reach 100km/h in 7.3 seconds (we achieved 7.8) or 236km/h. Claimed average consumption from the 60L tank is 6L/100km and CO2 emissions just 144g/km.
In town, our 420i helped itself to 9L/100km, while careful highway cruising yielded about 7. All testers found that these figures are highly variable depending on your driving style and the selected mode. Another thing we all agreed on is that the 420i is something BMW and the 3-Series can be proud of.
This car is a stylish, entry-level petrol coupé with seatbelt butlers and the good kind of multiple personality disorder. Prices start at N$479,000 for a standard manual 420i, this Luxury Line Steptronic costing N$514,400 without options. BMW includes a 5-year/100,000km motor-plan as well.
0-10km/h: 0.35 seconds
0-20km/h: 0.83 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.40 seconds
0-40km/h: 1.98 seconds
0-50km/h: 2.68 seconds
0-60km/h: 3.48 seconds
0-70km/h: 4.37 seconds
0-80km/h: 5.43 seconds
0-90km/h: 6.53 seconds
0-100km/h: 7.81 seconds
0-110km/h: 9.24 seconds
0-120km/h: 10.89 seconds
0-130km/h: 12.68 seconds
0-140km/h: 14.73 seconds
0-100m: 6.63 seconds @ 90.91km/h
0-200m: 10.10 seconds @ 115.41km/h
0-300m: 13.01 seconds @ 131.64km/h
0-400m: 15.62 seconds @ 144.03km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.68G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box