It is rather like a child with a Mr Potato Head, BMW’s product planning department, unendingly fiddling with doors/platforms/noses/glasses to create fun new cars. In this instance, it has ended up with the new 2014 BMW 4-series Gran Coupe.
Fans of BMW’s burgeoning niche ranges will already know that this car is a 4-series Coupe with a slightly higher roofline, four doors and a hatchback boot.
Not to be confused with a 3-series GT, which is a 3-series slightly higher roofline, four doors and a hatchback boot, or a 5-series GT which, well… you get the picture.
BMW 4-series Gran Coupe: a quick review
Unlike the GT ranges, the 4-series Gran Coupe is actually a very sleek, handsome car (naff Gran Coupe badges excepted), and drives with pretty much the same poise as the donor car with only a 60kg weight penalty.
That’s despite strengthening bars above the rear wheelarches due to the loss of stiffness resulting in the big hole in the body above the boot.
The suspension settings have been revised to manage the 12mm increased height and extra weight of the 112mm longer roofline and extra doors. But it retains the familiar 3-/4-series gait, with a ride just the right side of sporting and firm - yet with enough compliance not to upset passengers.
The steering is, as we've come to expect, a thing of tactile joy, the wheel of the Gran Coupe allowing for more feel and response than you'll find in the rival Sportback from Audi.
Inside there is more headroom in the rear and somewhere to put your legs, although don’t expect to stretch out. Crucially, the rear seats tumble to give estate levels of boot volume, making the 4-series Gran Coupe a remarkably versatile car.
BMW 4-series Gran Coupe UK range
Pick between the following 4-series here in the UK, many available with rear- or four-wheel drive:
420i Gran Coupe 2.0-litre 4cyl, 184bhp
428i Gran Coupe 2.0-litre 4cyl, 245bhp
435i Gran Coupe 3.0-litre 6cyl, 306bhp
418d Gran Coupe 2.0-litre 4cyl TD, 143bhp
420d Gran Coupe 2.0-litre 4cyl TD, 184bhp
430d Gran Coupe 3.0-litre 6cyl TD, 258bhp
435d Gran Coupe 3.0-litre 6cyl TD, 313bhp
It's a pretty wide range, especially when you factor in the myriad spec levels, including SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport.
Dial in the xDrive four-wheel drive options, available on most of the higher-powered models, and you have a range to take the fight to the Audi A5 Sportback.
Prices, specs of the BMW 4-series Gran Coupe
All this costs no more than the equivalently-engined Coupe, because BMW reckons that as much as 80% of the car remains unchanged and it was developed at the same time. The 4-series Gran Coupe prices start in the UK at £29,425 for a 420i Gran Coupe. The cheapest diesel, the 418d, kicks off at £30,995.
And the thing is, despite what might seem like an exercise in corporate marketing OCD, it’s a fantastic thing: smart, useful and perfectly pitched.
The BMW 4-series Gran Coupe is no potato with a tie and glasses.