BMW 420d xDrive test - Like in the good old days


Concept

The Diesel engine is attacked from all sides … But not at BMW, which continues to offer many Diesel engines, even in its coupes. The new 4 Series – you know, the one with “that nose” – is available with three Diesel engines, of which this 420d is the least powerful. Although the latter is not so badly off: with 190 hp at 4000 rpm and 400 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm, you can already impose yourself (in Belgium, versions of 163 hp are also available, which halved VAT in Brussels, Wallonia and on the fleet market).

This engine is still mated to the popular ZF 8-speed automatic transmission (with or without paddle shifters on the steering wheel) and, for an additional charge, it can also transmit its power to all four wheels, as was the case on our test car. An investment that perfectly matches the mileage-eating vocation of this 420d, due to its beneficial effect on serenity and safety, even in less favorable grip conditions.

The pleasant cocoon of the interior is the same for all 4 Series variants. In the front there is enough space, even for your head (you don’t even have to put the seat in its lowest position), at the rear the sloping roof line slightly planes the headroom. In general, these two rear seats are fine for children up to around 12 years old, after which everything becomes a little less obvious, also in terms of legroom for that matter.

A standard 420d is already quite well equipped, but to take full advantage of it, a few packs are essential, which pushes up the bill quickly: our test car included € 20,000 of additional options. More than 70,000 € for a 420d is a bit high … It is also because the Series 4 is not a bargain. For the base price of a 420d xDrive, a much more trendy coupe-SUV with the same drivetrain is available: the X4 20d xDrive. This will make many customers think twice.

Road behavior

When we press the start button on the center console, the two-liter still betrays that it runs on Diesel. Once it has warmed up and reached cruising speed, it does its job quietly – the sound insulation of this 4 Series is of a very high standard. When it comes to performance, this 420d delivers: with 7.4 seconds for a 0-100 km / h sprint, there’s no reason to complain.

Still, this Diesel is only at its best in the revs, where it takes advantage of its generous torque at the base and the willingness with which it rides in the revs – it even makes a more enthusiastic impression than the two-liter gasoline engine. just as powerful (420i, 184 hp). Perhaps even more impressive is its fuel consumption: we recorded an excellent 5.3 l / 100 km, albeit on a course with many sections of the motorway.

This low consumption is partly due to the soft hybrid technology on 48 V of this 420d, which works in a particularly resolute way by driving at maximum in Comfort or EcoPro, by stopping the engine or by recovering the deceleration energy. Those who don’t like that “freewheel” can choose the Sport driving mode, where the two-liter engine continues to run. However, even in this driving mode, the energy recovery significantly disturbs the dosage of the brake pedal.

On the highway, the Series 4 proves to be a comfortable eater of kilometers, with an unsuspected efficiency on winding roads too: the cornering speeds of which this large coupe is capable are extremely high. Quite entertaining, although the picture could have been even better with a more communicative steering wheel. Our car’s variable sport steering, with its nervous feedback, wouldn’t have been necessary for us, and the adaptive M suspension with pilot-operated shocks doesn’t seem like a must-have either.

Verdict

It is a pity that the diesel engine today is covered with tar and feathers. Because this BMW 420d proves it once again: in terms of performance and consumption, nothing can match a good spontaneous combustion engine, or at least not over long distances. In other words, this is a wonderful mile eater, where a winding descent is sometimes on the menu. On top of that, it has lines that are a relief between all those SUVs and crossovers. In fact, there is only one real spoiler, but it’s the one that counts: the price.

  • Consumption and performance
  • A first-class chassis
  • Comfort and well-being in the passenger compartment
  • Braking dosage
  • Small steering wheel with artificial rendering
  • High price, numerous and expensive options

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