ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: Previous experience with current BMW 3-series and 4-series cars tells me that the 428i xDrive gets more fun the more you try to do with it, but frozen roads and traffic jams meant this particular test run was pretty tame. And when you take out the fun of driving it quickly -- even the entry-level four-cylinder shines as a smooth, powerful little motor when you push it -- the little things start to bug you.
Take the interior. It’s purposefully designed and impeccably assembled. It’s just…kind of boring. The infotainment screen is just sort of plopped on top of the dash. And this is coming from someone who appreciates Audi’s attempts, which could charitably be called “minimalistic.”
There are other tradeoffs. You’ll be paying a lot of money for a car that still requires thousands of dollars in options to get heated front seats, a navigation system, satellite radio and a backup camera. This is increasingly feeling like paying for Wi-Fi in a hotel -- something that, incidentally, only high-end luxury hotels really feel like they can get away with these days.
In exchange, you’re getting one of the more elegant profiles on the market wrapped around a great chassis, plus a smooth four-cylinder that plays very nicely with the eight-speed automatic. In this configuration, though, it still feels like an OK (if pricey) version of a really good car. If cost is a factor, why not sacrifice the M appearance package in favor of the inline-six? How about going rear-wheel drive only?
Of course, go down that path too far and you wind up in a different car entirely. I mean, if you’re buying a coupe, you’re probably not planning on using the rear seats for regular passenger duty. So the M235i is worth a look -- it’s shorter, but not much narrower (and actually taller, somehow) than the 4-series. For about 10 grand less you can get it with the six-cylinder -- in one of the more rewarding-to-drive cars BMW currently makes.
Oh, wait -- we’re talking about the 428i xDrive here, right?
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: My favorite 3-series is the little diesel wagon I drove last week. This 2015 BMW 428i xDrive ain’t bad either. It looks outstanding to my eye and has the 3-series’ excellent road manners: Near perfect steering, plenty of poke, terrific body control…I’m even starting to whine less about BMW’s runflats. They feel better to me. Either the company has new compounds, or the suspension has been adjusted to suit or something. Yes, there’s a little thumping noise from the tires but nothing too bad.
I felt zero turbo lag and good torque from the turbo four, though I gotta say I still like BMW’s straight sixes better. This setup doesn’t lack power, but the six is noticeably smoother. Road and wind noise is minimal, the seats are comfortable, really nice build quality … you know the drill.
If I was in the market for a cool little coupe, this would be high on my shopping list.
Options: M Sport package including 18-inch wheels, all-season tires, sport seats, high-gloss black trim highlight, aluminum hexagon interior trim, m steering wheel, aerodynamic kit, shadowline exterior trim, anthracite headliner, remove increased top speed ($3,400); navigation system, touchpad ($2,150); dynamic handling package including adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering ($1,000); driver assistance package including rear view camera, park distance control ($950); Harmon/Kardon surround sound ($875); cold weather package including heated steering wheel, heated front seats, retractable headlight washers ($700); Melbourne red metallic paint ($550).
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