BMW 420i M Sport

Coupe

BMW 4 Series Coupe, front action
BMW 4 Series Coupe, front action 2
BMW 4 Series Coupe, side action
BMW 4 Series Coupe, rear action
BMW 4 Series Coupe, dashboard
BMW 4 Series Coupe, boot

THERE's little point in buying a coupe unless it's drop-dead gorgeous looking.

Because, let's face it, the sloping roofline and two-door design mean that, inevitably they are more cramped and less practical than the saloon they are based on.

So it was with a degree of trepidation that I awaited the first glimpse of the coupe version of the BMW 3 Series. After all, despite its undoubted effectiveness the four-door's sharp edges and angular styling aren't particularly easy on the eye.

I needn't have worried. The new 4 Series Coupe is definitely a thing of beauty with graceful lines and balanced proportioned that have been absent from many Munich products for some time. I even have to confess that the new big grille lends it a certain gravitas that was lacking.

Like its more practical brother, the Coupe comes with a huge mix'n match of engines and trims. Ours was at the cheaper end of the scale - a 420i M Sport, which nevertheless hits the road wearing a price tag of around £40k.

The engaging appearance is backed up with sort of handling finesse we have come to expect from BMW. While not attempting to be an out-an-out sporting device, at least in this guise, the dynamics are such that few drivers well get near the final limits of adhesion.

Should they push hard, they will discover the steering becomes alive to road surfaces and transmits the data instantly to the helm in a way that few average priced cars manage. It's a fast and satisfying drive, yet little is lost in terms of comfort.

Maybe less low profile tyres would improve the ride somewhat without damaging dynamics or reducing adhesion noticeably.

The turbocharged four-cylinder, two litre engine knocks out a pretty unexciting 181bhp. Nevertheless with ample torque and a well-ratioed eight speed auto box, progress is swift enough though quite undramatic. 62mph comes up in an unflustered but acceptable 7.5sec and top speed is 149mph.

Diesel versions offer similar performance and better economy, but the degree of refinement - a strength of petrol 4 Series models - is much reduced.

It's reasonably frugal and CO2 emissions are comparable with rivals. We averaged 35mpg with a best of 39mpg over a long run.

The cabin is classic BMW with stout, well engineered switchgear, quality leather upholstery and a big rectangular central touchscreen. Bags of space up front, but compact arrangements in the rear as is the way with coupes.

The back seats are big enough for two adults but climbing in and out takes a degree of athleticism. Remember, too, that the doors are wide - so they can offer access to the rear - making it tricky to get in or out when parked at a supermarket.

The long, shallow boot offers decent luggage space with room for 440litres which is on a par with a family hatchback...generous for a coupe then. A shame however that the boot is separate as a hatchback rear would be so much more useful.

FAST FACTS

BMW 420i M Sport Coupe

Price: £40,780

Mechanical: 2.0-litre, 4 cyl, 182bhp, petrol engine driving rear wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 149mph

0-62mph: 7.5sec

Combined MPG: 42.2

Insurance Group: 31

C02 emissions: 146g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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