Doing what I do is not always about getting your hands on the latest cars and travelling all around the world, but that is part of it.
This type of job embodies certain skills that you must apply from the minute you drive the car to the last hour when your story appears in the paper.
It does not end there. You should be able to put your readers in the driver’s seat of the latest vehicle, so how you put your words matters and that is a skill.
There are times when I get a car to test and feel like ‘oh no, can I have this for life?’ which makes me sad when it is time for it to return to its owners.
The BMW 420d Gran Coupe made me feel that way.
Before I get into details about the Gran Coupe, the 4 Series appeared as a concept in 2012.
It was scheduled to replace the current 3 Series Coupe – something like what Audi did with the A4’s Coupe and Convertibles.
It made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2013 and that has been the story till today.
Following the recent update of the 4 Series range a few months ago, the Gran Coupe also received a makeover but the changes can be tough to notice.
My test unit was equipped with restyled LED headlights that replace the outgoing Gran Coupe’s xenon lights, LED front fog lamps and the rear LEDs.
The interior, too, is not that different to the one of the outgoing model but changes are there.
The name ‘Gran Coupe’ says it all. It is positioned on top of the 4 Series range. It is longer, has a big boot, spacious, has four doors and it is five seats big.
Taking this to Gerotek for a full performance test with data would not have made sense.
Thus, with the approval of The Citizen’s test guru, Mark Jones, I headed to a wedding in Bushbuckridge, 400km away from our offices. I did not have to stress much about luggage space as the big boot took care of that.
I choose to call it a 4 Series for people who want to combine the practicality of the 3 Series while keeping the looks of the 4 Series.
Unlike the normal 4 Series Coupe, the Gran Coupe offers easy access to the rear seats.
My two rear occupants found plenty of legroom to stretch out. There is enough headroom at the back, despite the sloping roof. The rear middle seat is best left for children.
There is no enormous difference between the standard 4 Series Coupe when you point it to the highway. Its ride is smooth and refined.
You get the same weighty but responsive steering.
The same strong body control and slightly firm ride, and the same sense of being truly engaged with the driving experience. Our journey included a ride on a short stretch of gravel.
There is a bit of traction loss – something you would expect from a rearwheel drive car.
The suspension absorbed all bumps, thanks to its revised suspension. But would you take on serious off roading with this? Me neither.
Diesel cars are best known for their efficiency.
That made sense as the car displayed an adequate average fuel consumption figure of 6.4 litres per 100km with the driving range coming close to a 1 000km from the 57 litre fuel tank.
These are good figures for such a compact luxury car.
In terms of safety, the 4 Series comes standard with six airbags and a list of safety features such as park assist, BMW assist eCall emergency S.O.S, tyre specific low tyre pressure warning and Airbag Occupancy Sensors. The Gran Coupe is an excellent choice if you are looking for a sporty luxury car that has it all.
If it fits your budget with a starting price of R656 600, you should give it a serious consideration.