There’s not a lot of choice when it comes to four-door lift backs, priced under six figures. The classy Audi A5 Sportback, the newly launched Volkswagen Arteon, and now throwing a cat amongst the pigeons, the Korean-made Kia Stinger.
In the BMW corner, the top-of-the-line 440i sees drive-away prices tipping over that $100,000 mark. But there is another compelling Bimmer option: the 2018 BMW 430i Gran Coupe 'LCI'.
Let’s take a gander at the before on-road prices. The Stinger starts at $45,990, Arteon from $65,490, and the A5 at $81,500. And coming in at $2500 less than the A5 is the 430i at $79,000 plus on-road costs, boasting a 2.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet. Want bigger? Opt for the six-cylinder 3.0-litre BMW 440i.
The 430i we have on test here has a few options added – an electric sunroof ($2920), the Innovations Package ($3900), and metallic paint ($1937), bringing the total to $87,757, before ORCs.
Out of the four cars, the BMW is the oldest, still in its 2013 first generation, whereas the latest generation of its rivals is 12 months or less. But, it has received a midlife update to help keep it fresh and current.
BMW's terminology for a midlife update is LCI (life cycle impulse), which sees some minor changes. This includes long-overdue LED lights, iDrive 6 and a suspension tune, with the car now lowered to the same height as the 3 Series M Sport. Despite the added gear, the price remains unchanged.
It comes loaded with standard features, including the M Sport package comprising of about two-dozen M Sport features. Also coming standard are a number of important safety features, such as blind-spot sensors, brake assist, collision warning and mitigation, and lane-departure warning.
Front, rear and side cameras, satellite navigation and head-up display are also thrown in. It is a nice surprise for BMW not to include these as an option.
BMW has fitted the $3900 Innovations Package, which includes active cruise control, parking assist, heated front seats, 16-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, high-beam assist and multi-functional instrument display.
Powering the German-made coupe is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and you can choose between an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual. If you want diesel, though, look elsewhere as it is not available. Our test car is fitted with the auto transmission.
When the 430i LCI was parked at CarAdvice, it won a lot of fans in the office, and most of the time it's hard to get all of us to agree on something! It is a sleek and graceful car, especially in the Snapper Rocks Blue colour and the optional $1937 metallic paint. We think it stands out from the sedan with a lot of street presence.
Opening the doors, the interior isn’t as captivating as the exterior. Your typical BMW cabin greets you, with pieces of brushed aluminum helping to break up the black, and the cheapish glossy ash woodgrain is probably not the best choice in trim, as it looks like it should belong in the X1.
The Dakota leather seats feel rough to touch, but they are comfortable to park your derrière on, especially when the optional heated seat button is pushed. Electric lumbar support features on the driver and passenger seats, but we found we didn’t need to adjust it too much.
The update also brings more chrome and double stitching, which you can never have too much of. There is a lot of hard rubber on the door trims and dash, and the door pockets are large enough to hold a drink bottle. The centre console isn’t too deep, but is enough for a few CDs to use in the endangered CD player.
The electric sunroof is a $2920 option, and while it lightens up the dark cabin from the black roof lining, it probably isn’t a feature worth ticking.
The iDrive 6 infotainment system is one of the best on the market. Its response time is quick, and it’s easy to find your way around. Voice control is accurate – it asked us to repeat our command only a few times during our week with the car. Apple CarPlay can be optioned for $623, even though it comes standard in the A5, Arteon and Stinger.
Backseat passengers will have a pleasant experience, even with the sloping coupe-like roof. Vision out of the side windows is good, even for little ones, and there are ISOFIX points for baby seats.
The seat base is long, and it still gives plenty of legroom, but headroom is limited. It is not as low as the Stinger, but the average adult can feel their hair tickle the roof lining. A fold-down armrest reveals two neat fold-out cupholders, and there are also fold-down coat hooks for that important business meeting.
Rear ventilation and a 12-volt connection are great to see, but there’s not a whole lot of storage to be found in the door pockets, with space only wide enough for a very small bottle.
Ingress and egress from the 430i are somewhat difficult, as the seat is positioned quite deep and low into the car. It is not recommended for anyone wearing a dress!
The rear seats can be folded 40:20:40, meaning golf clubs or skis can fit easily through the cabin. The boot has loads of goodies, such as a cargo net, a smaller net on the side, a fold-out grocery hook, a first-aid compartment, two tie-down latches and a 12-volt connection. Under the shelf is a run-flat tyre, as well as a storage area.
Coming in at 445 litres, it sits third place amongst the other liftbacks, with the Arteon's boot space leading at 563L.
Under the bonnet, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces 185kW and 350Nm. The race to 100km/h is achieved in 5.9 seconds.
There is slight turbo lag when Comfort driving mode is selected, but the response seems to be tighter in Sport mode. The power-sipping Ecosport mode is best when in stop/start traffic, which we used a lot in peak-hour on the infamous Monash Freeway in Melbourne.
BMW claims a combined fuel reading of 5.8L per 100 kilometres, although at 8.4L/100km we struggled to get anywhere close to that with a mixture of easy-going highway and city driving. The BMW stop/start feature turns off at the perfect moment, as soon as the car comes to a complete stop, but once the engine starts back up again, it does take its time getting moving again.
The gear changes of the eight-speed automatic transmission are ultra smooth, and the stylish metal paddle shifters are there if you want to step up the fun factor. Even though it is a 4.6m-long car, it can handle being thrown into corners, and it holds up pretty well. The wheels do start to nip out in Sport mode though.
Adaptive cruise control comes as an option, which is a surprise considering the safety features mentioned earlier come standard. The distance control is easily adjustable through the steering wheel controls, although it resets to the longest distance every time the car restarts. Cruise control is a little jerky, with it changing down a gear to speed up just a few kilometres on a flat stretch of road.
The 430i has been lowered 10mm, which has firmed up the adaptive M suspension. It can feel a little jittery on the back roads, for example, but it is right at home cruising on the highway. However, we did notice some tyre roar at over 80km/h, thanks no doubt, to its 19-inch alloy wheels.
BMW's warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres with three years' of roadside assistance. There is the option of purchasing an inclusive service package for five years/80,000km with the Basic package costing $1440 and covers oil changes, filters, spark plugs, annual vehicle checks, and labour costs.
Is the 430i Gran Coupe LCI worth adding to the shortlist for a test drive? Absolutely. However, to help hide its age, we would recommend speccing it the right way, with perhaps a loud paint colour and something other than black leather interior.
If you are seeking a more affordable option, then the Stinger GT with a V6 could be worth considering. For less money, the A5 is fresh and classy, and the Arteon provides brilliant driver technology. But if the badge and heritage matter more (and making your friends envious), it’s the BMW all the way.