The 428i Gran Coupé is an answer to a question nobody asked for. Borrowing James May’s analogy for the Hot Wheels Camaro, the 4-series Gran Coupé is a 4-door version of a 2-door version of a 4-door car. They then proceeded to carve out the rear shelf and turn the car into a lift back design while looking like an elongated sedan with a lower roofline. Overall, I am a fan of it. The coupe body lines allow for wider hips to appear on a non-M sedan.
This particular 428i came to me as a certified pre-owned example from southern California with only 15,000 miles. Not bad considering it was 3 years old when I got my hands on it.
(Full Disclosure: BMW wanted me to drive one of this car so badly they lured me into a dealership to test drive a F10 535i M-sport package and then let me find this F36 428i GC on the lot to test drive.)
The car is Black Sapphire Metallic (BSM) and comes with the Luxury Line package. As far as I can tell, the Luxury Line package just swaps out the wheels for a more Alpina-esque design and adds some extra wood trim options on the inside. Some other notes are the door sills have “BMW Luxury” on the panel instead of “BMW”. The chrome trim looks like it’s brushed instead of straight Chrome which I will admit I prefer. One tiny change is the LEDs in the ambient lighting offer a white option for you to select from the menu. The original owner of this car opted for black m-sport grilles which are a welcomed add-on. However, the owner did cheap out and skip the adaptive lighting package meaning I do not have LED lights and adaptive high beams. That’s a bummer since I do fancy how the LED lights look.
The curvaceous body of the 4-series is extended into a 4-door body style and somehow it works. Against every logical desire I have to hate this car, I love the proportions.
My only gripes on the exterior are the ride height and non-Msport bumpers. The ride height could be lower since this was a former coupe and the non-M-sport package bumpers make the car look nervous rather than angry like the M-sport bumpers.
The previous owner was kind enough to spec the interior with the Extended Leather Package in saddle brown. I’d be lying if I said the interior wasn’t what convinced me to get this car. Only thing missing is the black headliner but I can live with the light tan headliner. The majority of the surfaces have a soft plush feel to them and even hard surfaces have a rubberized texture making the interior feel high quality. The things detracting from this car’s interior are the large amounts of black space which could be used for information on the instrument cluster and the steering wheel. The instrument cluster is a half-digital and half-analog setup which is great, however the space under the speedometer is an actual display that is not active on this car.
Switch gear and doors are typical German fair with a very satisfying and authoritative feel when used. The doors have the typical heavy thunk when closed and the switches have a firm resistance that feel robust. I have get a strangely satisfying fizz whenever I use the light switch for the headlights on this car. The car does come with automatic headlights so the only times I use the switch are to purposefully feel that fizz.
One thing I did notice the first week driving this car as my daily was the seats are not the best. My Subaru and even my old Acura felt more bolstered and were very comfortable from day one with minimal adjustments. This car’s seats felt less bolstered and were almost flat on the back. Either my back got used to it after 2-weeks or I finally found a comfortable reclining angle after fiddling around with it. Regardless, I would opt for the upgraded seats in my next BMW.
This car came with the technology package, parking distance control, and ambient lighting package. The technology package includes BMW apps, a heads-up display, larger infotainment screen, and navigation system. Out of all those, I only use the HUD and infotainment screen. The navigation is cool in that the directions display on the HUD, but I just prefer Google Maps connected through Bluetooth. The infotainment screen is brilliant compared to my former Subaru. The interface is lovely and the iDrive wheel makes navigating easy while keeping your eyes on the road.
Parking distance control is great and dramatically helps with the minimal rear-visibility in this car. The only grippe I have is the PDC does not pick up on concrete barriers in parking spots so you still need to be careful otherwise you will mount one and scrape the front bumper. Ambient lighting is cool but it’s really dim on this model-year car. The newer generations have better brightness and more intricate designs that actually make the car feel luxurious (check out the F90 M5 ambient lighting if you want to be amazed).
This car does have adaptive dampers which you can configure to be comfortable or stiff. Honestly, the sport setting just makes the car more uncomfortable. It also has an added bonus in making it prohibitively expensive to lower this car to a ride height that would make a noticeable visual difference. The big change comes when you switch the engine and transmission into Sport or Sport+ mode. The car holds gears like it’s telepathic and will react rapidly to your throttle inputs in Sport mode.
In addition, I have noticed the keyless entry is slower to register my touch compared to my Subaru and the newer G30 5-series. That’s a minor issue. A big issue, however is auto-stop/start sucks so damn bad. The feature works great if you are driving in a moderate climate like say 68-72 degrees. If you have the AC on then the car will disable it and force the engine back on in a very abrupt and alarming moment as you are stopped. It feels very violent the first time you feel it. I’ve had auto-stop/start off since I’ve bought this thing.
Other than those main features, there are no other toys. I wish the car had adaptive headlights and driver assistance since that would be great on road trips.
I have the mid-tier audio package in this car meaning I don’t have the Harmon Kardon speakers but I do have the additional speakers and subwoofers in this car. Sound quality is decent and more full-bodied with deeper bass compared to a Subaru or Kia but it’s not much to write home about. Speed-sensitive volume is good and actually implemented well. On some cars I’ve noticed the speed-sensing volumes just have a binary volume adjustment where if you’re under 30mph the volume stays the same but after 40mph the volume turns into deafening. This car actually adjusts the volume so you can still hear your music but it isn’t really noticeable that it’s getting louder. The music just sounds constant relative to the road noise.
Engine noise sounds throaty from the inside and on a cold start the exhaust gives an authoritative thump on the outside. It’s nowhere close to being loud or even good-sounding but it does at least sound better than my BRZ which admittedly is not a high bar.
This car is not the fastest but it’s no slouch. There is some turbo-lag but shoving it into Sport mode will almost completely eliminate that since it keeps the RPMs above 2500 meaning it remains in boost range the entire time. From a stop this car takes off in a hurry and starts to skip in increments of 3 up until you get to 70mph where it continues to skip in increments of 2. Very impressive for a measly x28i car.
When I was test driving this car the sales guy told me to take it onto an onramp for the freeway. I complied and floored it. I giggled like a child and my girlfriend later told me she had never seen me grin so much until I did that. Needless to say that sold me on this car.
I have no idea how many air bags are in this car and I do not want to find out from first-hand experience, but the car does come with the standard ABS, traction control, and back-up cameras. It also has PDC which is great. Only thing I would want is adaptive cruise control (an available option), lane assist (also available), and adaptive headlights (also available).
The car isolates from the outside very well. The only noise is from the tires which I suspect have a lot to do with the run flat tires included with the car. Ride quality is decent in comfort mode and is only jarring if you drive over a massive pothole.
Front seat comfort is lacking and that’s the main issue with this car’s comfort for me. The front just feels like the back rest is flat and has no bolstering. With that said, I recognize this is not meant to be a sports car and so I cannot fault it too much for that. My main issue with the car is my own preferences. For a person who does not care for rawness this car would fit the bill.
Rear legroom is tremendous and I can fit 3 full grown adults in the back and drive in my normal driving position without issues. Keep in mind though, I am only 5’8” and my friends were around 5’8-5’10” so take that with a grain of salt.
It’s a ZF 8-speed tuned by BMW. Nothing else needs to be said to justify this rating. The only other mass produced automatic that can compete with this is a PDK and that’s in a different classification being a dual clutch in my opinion.
The car is telepathic when you place it into sport mode and will hold gears to redline when you want it to. It will also downshift and upshift at an astonishing speed for an automatic. Pulling the paddle will instantly trigger an upshift. Watching the tachometer is sort of amusing since the car’s RPMs will just drop almost instantly as it goes into the next gear. Downshifts are a little delayed, but the delay is not big enough to be an annoyance on the road.
On a slight tangent, I have to specifically mention BMW’s tuning for this transmission as part of the magic of this transmission. I drove a Jaguar with the same transmission and walked away very disappointed. The upshifts were sloppy and the downshifts took forever. The car refused to hold onto a gear even after I switched the Jaguar into race mode and floored it.
In comfort mode the car remains compliant in corners and will rotate without hesitation. In Sport mode this car gets stiff and almost feels like it’s riding on a wooden suspension. The car does corner with some body roll, however it is not as bad as most cars out there. The rear is somewhat easy to unload under heavy braking and a quick push on the throttle will return it into obedience. Definitely a far cry from the direct and planted feeling of my BRZ but that is expected.
The steering feel is quite numb as many others have mentioned for the F3x generation 3-/4-series BMWs. It’s not as bad as many have lamented but it’s not great. The weighting is good but the road feel is what is lacking. There is some feedback but for the most part you do not feel like you are connected to the road. The best way to describe it is turning into a corner gives you a momentary feeling of hesitation as if your brain tries to warn you the wheel does not feel connected to the tires.
As a CPO car that costs less than a Honda/Subaru/Mazda with less than 15,000 miles on it this car was great value.
However, as a new car I would not purchase this car. It clocked in at $55,000 new with options. For that price I would either buy a new M2 Competition with a manual, CPO F80 M3 with a manual, or a used Panamera.
If you’ve read this far, I might as well add some additional thoughts on this car. Especially with it being my first CPO BMW experience. The CPO warranty is awesome. I took the car in for free maintenance a few months afterwards and was given a free loaner no questions asked. The only real question they asked was which car I would like. I opted for a 530e. Let’s just say I would definitely rock a G30 5-series as my daily. Probably a G30 M550i. It is literally a roaming fortress of comfort. Definitely a tactic to upsell and keep return customers by letting them try out the next model up. I am a happy hostage of this tactic.
Being a CPO car it was cheaper but only you know that. Nobody knows it was a used car. As a result, you will get nosy coworkers who think you’re doing well for yourself when in reality you just saved up and wanted to treat yourself to something nice. Then you need to explain you bought it used just so they don’t think you’re overpaid or a trust-fund asshole. It gets old. Fast.
Being a Black BMW you will get profiled by everyone. So you need to be on your best behavior. Cops are on the lookout and if it’s between a red Toyota Corolla or a Black BMW they will go after the Black BMW. Even worse, when you’re parking you need to absolutely make sure you are straight between the lines. You do not want to perpetuate the stereotype. You must always use your indicators so you don’t perpetuate the stereotype.
Speaking of the indicator, BMW indicators are brilliant once you get used to them. The single tap for three flashes is earth shattering. I love this feature. The only problem is for the first week you look like a fucking idiot as you need to unlearn your filthy peasant habit of pushing down to turn off an indicator after you switch lanes.
Here’s how the indicators work for those who have not been indoctrinated to the dark side. You push to the first resistance point to make the indicator flash three times. You push past the first resistance point and to the second resistance point to keep the indicator on. The indicator stalk always returns to the neutral position. You push down to the FIRST resistance point on the opposite side to cancel the indicator. If you push the opposite direction to the second resistance point it turns on the indicator to the other side.
So the entire first week you are trying to merge into stop and go traffic and have the indicator on indefinitely so you don’t become that douche in a BMW without the indicators on. But then you turn the wheel past the point to cancel the indicators and out of habit push the stalk to “turn off” your indicator only to forget it auto cancels and then you are now indicating you want to return to the lane you merged from. You now look like a student driver. BUT you also pushed it to the second point and now must push the stalk again to turn it off.
Engine: N20 2.0 L I4 turbo
Transmission: ZF 8-speed Automatic
Power/torque: 248hp/248 ftlb
Curb weight: 3609 lbs
0-60: 5.8 seconds