2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is a sharper, slightly compromised 3 Series Sedan

/ Updated: 6 March 2014, 5:19 am AEDT

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GENEVA -- BMW has proven that it will explore just about any niche that it can in order to deliver to its drivers that Goldilocks car configuration, but the newly unveiled BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe has me wondering if the automaker isn't just messing with us.

Recently, BMW split the BMW 3 Series line in two. Models with four or more doors kept the 3 Series badge and two-door models were redesignated the 4 Series. However, the new 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe that debuted at the Geneva auto show this week has four doors. It is a sedan variant of the 4 Series Coupe. But the 3 Series was already the sedan variant of the Coupe, right? Confused? Let's take a closer look.

The Gran Coupe slots into the sliver-thin space between the 4 Series Coupe and the 3 Series Sedan. The chassis and drivetrain underpinning the Gran Coupe are identical to the rest of the 4 Series line, starting with the two available engine options. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder of the 428i is good for 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The 3.0-liter turbo inline-six in the 435i produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission choice that we'll get in the States is an eight-speed automatic, but drivers will have a choice between rear-drive and BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system.

2015 BMW 4 series Gran Coupe
The 428i and 435i Gran Coupe will feature the same engine and drive train options as the Coupe. Josh Miller/CNET

So, why would you chose a 4 Sedan Gran Coupe over the nearly identical 3 Sedan?

4 Series models are 0.6 inch longer, 0.6 inch wider, and 1.6 inch lower than their 3 Series counterparts. The Gran Coupe is no exception, striking a slightly more athletic stance than the Sedan. However, the GC sacrifices about a half-inch of front and rear headroom, and a bit of rear legroom, and gains about 130 pounds of curb weight when compared with the Sedan. It also starts at about $2,400 to $3,000 more than an equivalent 3 Series sedan, depending on the trim level chosen.

2015 BMW 4 series Gran Coupe
The Gran Coupe should have a sharper suspension than the Sedan, but it's also heavier. How will this affect performance? Josh Miller/CNET

The minor differences in styling may be subjective, but the new 4 Series Gran Coupe starts to seem like a big ol' bag of compromises when compared with the good ol' 3 Sedan. Then again, the Gran Coupe wins back a bunch of brownie points with the 4 Series' sharper, more aggressive suspension tuning and with its liftback configuration, which should grant easier access to the trunk.

Gran Coupe or Sedan? It's a race that's just too close to call for now.

The 2015 BMW Gran Coupe 428i starts at $41,225, including the $925 destination charge. Adding xDrive all-wheel drive bumps the price up to $43,225. The most powerful 435i Gran Coupe will set you back $46,725 when it hits your local dealership this summer.

See CNET's full coverage of the Geneva auto show

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2015 BMW 435i Gran Coupe

Part Number: 2015435iGC
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