Elite coupe cruiser
SIR Stirling Moss, the great racing driver, once asked the question “Why do people buy coupes?”
He felt they are restricted to two doors, which are usually wide to facilitate rear seat access, and so exit is difficult in parking lots. They have somewhat limited rear seat space and accessing that space is sometimes difficult. He then went on to answer his own question by saying, “Coupes are amongst the world’s best looking cars and a tribute to their owner’s taste and discernment.” Enter the BMW 420d Coupe. In 2013 BMW discovered the joy of even numbers and displayed the 420 Coupe at the Detroit Motor Show.
We were told that it would replace the 3-Series Coupe and it was likely that there would be any further models in the range. BMW however, could not resist competing with the Audi A5 Coupe Hatch and a four-door 4-Series Grand Coupe followed soon after.
We are grateful to Anthony Ellis, dealer principal at SMG Pietermaritzburg for allowing us a few days with the vehicle. This is a really good looking car which turns heads as you drive by. At the front it is typically BMW, with a large, double kidney grill and swept back headlamps on either side, all underlined by a dark air intake flanked by two fog lamps.
The ribbed bonnet flows into a raked windscreen, which guides the eye to a sloping roof. Our car came with a fitted sunroof, an optional extra but nice to have. The steeply sloping rear window and tailgate combine with wraparound tail lights to present a sleek profile.
The effect of this coupe is svelte, sensual and glamorous and sophisticated, while the sloping roof still allows for the accommodation of two tall adults in the rear seat.
The design is complimented by serious rubber on its 19-inch light alloy wheels and in any parking lot it is, in the words of Stirling Moss, “a tribute to the owner’s taste and discernment”. The interior of our car was finished in soft touch plastics and black leather.
It is much like the 3-series interior, comfortable, solid and a very pleasant place to be. The control ergonomics are excellent. The instruments are clear and easy to read while driving. The main instrument cluster has four analogue displays, speedometer, rev counter, fuel gauge, temperature, as well as digital computer functions. The i-drive and its rotary selector are placed centrally and are easy to operate.
The rear seats offer a surprising amount of space and can take two adults in comfort over long distances. For a large man like me it is still a bit of a scramble to get in and out but, once in you are well supported and do not feel in the least claustrophobic even though the rear windows do not open.
Boot space is generous at 445 litres. The car we drove had front and rear parking sensors, which are these days essential. The 420d has a range of safety features, including ABS with EBD, an occupant cell, the BMW restraint system, adaptive headlights, as well as driver and front passenger airbags and side bags integrated into the front seat backrests for the rear passengers.
The car also has keyless entry and an alarm system. The 420d has BMW’s four-cylinder, Twin Power Turbo diesel engine, which features Common Rail direct injection and variable turbine geometry.
The engine puts out 135 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. The eight-speed auto gearbox in our car changed swiftly and smartly; and is an obviously sophisticated system. 0-100 km/h comes up in around 7,5 seconds and, if you are in suicide mode, top speed is claimed at 240 km/h.
Fuel consumption is difficult to predict in a fast car but, if you are over 50 and driving sensibly you should achieve around 5 l/100 km. The 4-series Coupe is wider and 45kg lighter than the 3-Series it replaced and also has a lower centre of gravity.
Combined with a sharpened steering and the adaptive drive system, the car handles superbly on good roads and bad. Sport mode makes a real difference to performance. And throttle response is crisp and power delivery impressive. It corners well at speed and lives up to its fast image. There are 28 models in the 4-Series line-up.
The 420d comes in at around R570 000 new, but don’t forget the demos and year-olds, or even two-year-olds. The car comes with a five-year or 100 000 km extendable maintenance plan, which covers everything but tyres, while BMW’s roadside assistance plan is excellent.
It’s a buyer’s market at present so also look at Audi A5/SS/RSS, Mercedes C class coupe, Lexus RC and even the Ford Mustang.
The BMW 420d M-sport looks extra svelte.