Looks More Than Feel

IN a case of looks and performance not quite jiving, the BMW 420i could have been better put together.

This sporty looking coupe was developed “with the aim of redefining the essence of driving pleasure” in this premium mid-size segment.

It certainly looks the part. It’s a shame it doesn’t drive in accordance. Even its lesser siblings from the 2 and 3 series are able to give you more of a thrill.

The 420i tested here has a lovely profile, with those short overhangs, the long bonnet, the angled rise of the windscreen and the sloping rear with the slight behind. It’s a sweeping form that also has practical 

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The front offers contrasting perspectives with the large kidney grilles flanked by slim LED headlights. There’s the option to include a probing laser light that increases the throw to more than half a kilometre.

The rear lamp cluster is a set of curves and lines that wrap around the back, creating a distinctive appearance that is being echoed through the family tree.

Inside, the family tree continues its presence, with a mix of premium materials and some excellent electronics and displays.

A new sports multi-function steering wheel is central to the driver-focused cockpit. Comfortably seated on the electric leather sports seats, the driver gets a good view of the control display and instrument cluster. 

Apart from synchronising with your mobile phone and updating the car’s software remotely, there is a full suite of driver assistance features and digital services to keep you connected and safe.

The premium segment fittings are of a high quality with a mix of natural and synthetic elements working well in tandem. Not much for the 2 passengers in the back to do but sit back and enjoy the ride.

Which brings me to where the look and go are not quite synchronised.

The 2L engine in the 420i is turbo charged to deliver 300Nm of torque and  around 140kW of power. (The same engine is tweaked to pump out more in the 430i, which might behave very differently.)

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That helps push the 420i from standstill to 100kmh in 7.5 seconds. Not as fast as you’d like in a sporty coupe, but if it at least behaved like it was trying, that would be great.

Instead you get a muted experience. Not much engine noise in the well-cocooned cabin and, while responsive, the car isn’t particularly fast or notable for any endearing characteristics.

You want some feedback and excitement, instead of urbane refinement. Somehow the cues got lost that coupe drivers do like to have fun, even in an entry-level model.

This could just as well be a fast luxury executive sedan that will set you back around *$250K.


Styling: 8/10

Interior: 7/10

Connectivity: 7.5/10

Ride: 6/10

Handling: 7/10

Power: 7.5/10

Overall: 7/10


*Please reconfirm price with dealer.

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