430d as runner-up prize it is then, 258hp and 413lb ft the consolation. M Sport spec gains us sports suspension, M bodykit, M branded alloys and a few dedicated trim pieces, further tarted up with an optional £1,650 M Sport Sport Plus package adding M Sport brakes and 19-inch wheels. Over Luxury this spec fits with the Gran Coupe's sportier profile, our car also coming with the smooth-talking eight-speed auto as standard. File under 'nice car' rather than something inspirational to dust off for a Sunday morning blast along the lanes. Nice enough to give you just a tingle of excitement on the daily commute though?
Hatching a plot
Actually yes. It's a bit of a surprise to press the boot release and realise it's basically a 4 Series hatchback in all but name, this possibly the most practical 3 or 4 Series body shape this side of those lumpy GT crossover things. The look isn't quite as cohesive or attractively proportioned as its 6 Series Gran Coupe big brother but it's a better looking car in the metal than in pictures. And suckers you by feeling convincingly a little sportier and more special than any 3 Series equivalent. You pay accordingly, a 430d xDrive M Sport's base price nearly £4,000 more than the equivalent 330d xDrive saloon.
As experienced in our 435i long-termer, BMW's M Sport damping leaves a little to be desired, the £515 Adaptive M Sport suspension on our test car retaining a brittle edge in all of its modes. That and a bit of tyre roar are the only real downers on the otherwise superb long-distance cruising ability. For all the fuss made about Audi interiors BMW's current ones - suitably gilded from the options list - maintain a quality, clarity and ease of use that comfortably sits at the top of the class. A lot less chintzy than the Mercedes equivalent too.
All in all this adds up to a car of quiet competence and the ability to sooth and look after you on the long haul home. Beyond its motorway comfort zone it has just enough additional poise and pizzazz to remind you of BMW's sporting genes too. It's an undemanding car but has an understated ability to make progress that leaves you refreshed rather than ragged. The xDrive four-wheel drive adds an unobtrusive level of all-weather security too, with a default neutral stance that has just enough rear-driven balance to stay true to the brand values. Or you can save £1,515 and stick with rear-wheel drive.
As tested a pleasant car rather than an astonishing one then. Still want a go with that 435d though...
BMW 430d XDRIVE M-SPORT GRAN COUPE
Engine: 2,993cc 6-cyl turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 258@4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 413@1,500-3,000rpm
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
MPG: 52.3mpg (NEDC combined)
Price: £42,460 (£48,560 as tested, comprising Interior Comfort Package of sun protection glass, extended storage and sliding arm rest £460; M Sport Plus Package of M Sport brakes, 19-inch wheels and Harman/Kardon sound system £1,650; heated steering wheel £155; Adaptive M Sport Suspension £515; electric sunroof £895; folding/dimming mirrors £300; split/fold rear seats £170; Adaptive Headlights £860; Head-up Display £825; internet £95; online entertainment £325; Enhanced Bluetooth with voice control £350)
Photos: Dan Trent