Here’s a question to ponder over on the last Monday before Christmas: is the only sub-£10k F36 BMW 4 Series in the classifieds a steal or a gamble with 135,000 miles on the clock? The comparatively humble 420i Gran Coupe has amassed 33,750 miles per year since it was registered in late 2016, which suggests it’s lived a life on the motorway at a couple of thousand RPM. That, you’d hope, means fewer meetings with urban speed humps and potholes for the car’s suspension. But miles are miles – and cheap BMWs do not equal cheap service and maintenance costs.
Let’s consider the base of the car first. The 420i is clearly nothing exotic, with BMW’s turbocharged four-cylinder petrol under the bonnet pushing 184hp through an eight-speed auto. The fitment of that transmission does at least add a few quid to car’s value, and it ups the chances of it having enjoyed a restful time on the motorway. The F32 base, even in weightier Gran Coupe format, is widely lauded, offering a decent ride on passive springs and good handling from its rear-drive layout. There’s plenty to like.
As a 66-plate car, the four-cylinder motor will be BMW’s B48 2.0-litre, which replaced the N20 of the same horsepower (but a little less torque) in spring 2016. The earlier engine wasn’t without its issues, most of which are said to be related to the cooling hardware. But the internet suggests the successive B48 is a much tougher block; indeed, it’s virtually omnipresent these days, both inside and outside of BMW’s range, and delivers 300hp in some states of tune. Several aftermarket firms reckon the 20i-spec engine can easily be tuned to 260hp with only an ECU remap, too. That ought to provide any prospective buyer of the car with additional peace of mind for its strength.
Same goes for the six-month parts and labour warranty provided by the vendor, which at least suggests the lack of an MOT shown on the car’s DVLA data would be rectified before sale. (One to check, obviously.) Assuming it’s all hunky dory, the car really does look to be in decent shape. White paintwork tends to mask stone chips - and you'd have to assume there are some given the average mileage clocked up - but all four wheels look mark free, and the basic, leather-clad SE interior appears well enough, too.
You could, of course, up your spend by a fiver to access the next cheapest F32-gen car in the classifieds, this 91k 420d. It’s a 63-reg coupe so it’s older and less practical, albeit with M Sport trimmings, so it looks a little snazzier outside and has red leather inside. Alternatively, you could spend just over £300 more and access the next lowest priced petrol F32, although, again, it’s a coupe, and it’s two years older than our pick with a manual gearbox, which won’t suit someone wanting a lazier F32 experience with the most recent reg plate.
To reach the next best offering, you need to spend £1,495 more, which buys a petrol auto F36, a 2014 N20-powered car with only 37,000 miles on the clock. Obviously the odometer explains the price difference, and justifies the High Mile Club membership for our B48 car here. Whether or not the 420i is actually worth a punt even at sub five figures, is up to you.
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