Elite coupe cruiser

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - Styling In­te­rior Safety and se­cu­rity Per­for­mance Costs and com­pe­ti­tion

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.

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