Through 35 Christmases, tried and true, an artificial tree was hauled up from the unfinished basement at my parents’ house, placed in the living room, and beautifully decorated. This year, I opted to start a new tradition by channeling my inner outdoorsman and cutting down my own tree.
I cut the tree down on the afternoon of December 13, tied it to the roof of a BMW 435i and brought it from Milton to its new home in Mississauga. Seems pretty cut and dry, right?
Well, later that night at the Bier Markt, my oh-so-lovely girlfriend told a slightly different version of this story to some friends; the topic of “stupid things that men do” came up in conversation, you see.
The gist of it was this: “He was wearing his city clothes to cut down a tree—dress boots, nice jeans, and a woolen pea coat. He got mud stains on his jeans, did laundry right away and the stains still didn’t come out. And he used some crappy string to tie the tree to the car.”
In my defence, I don’t own any non-city clothes, and it was my first time doing this—there’s no way I’m spending money on clothes to wear for 60 minutes a year.
By now you’re probably wondering: uh, where’s the part about the car? Don’t worry, it’s coming. My point in telling that story is simple: you can still hold true to your roots while paving a new road—which is exactly what BMW has done with their 4-series line, specifically the 435i Gran Coupe. (See?) They’ve taken the coupe styling of the 4-series, tweaked it and lengthened it (via doubling down on the number of doors), yet maintained the essence of the 3-series. So while it’s a “new” offering from BMW, it’s inherited all the success of the 3-series.
What’s that? “Isn’t that just a 3-series with a different label on it?” No. Those who ask that question certainly can’t be faulted based on a quick glance at a BMW four-door sedan. It’s not breaking a winning formula; it’s creating a new winning formula.
The 435i is a gorgeous vehicle, and it’s equally impressive on city roads as it is on the highway. It provides a comfortable ride, astute handling and a great driving experience overall. There’s a quick response from the throttle, firm and stable braking (must be from those monstrous rotors), and while the steering wheel is robust, the steering itself is light and accurate. The engineers have created a harmonized balance for the driver and dramatically reduced the threat of over- or under-steering.
The cabin boasts a clean design with all controls easily reachable by both the driver and passenger in the event that the two of you have wildly different tastes in music.
There’s a great automatic start/stop feature that doesn’t quite kill the engine when you’re stuck at a light. Even with gas prices being as low as they are, it’s always nice to save a few litres in fuel—I managed to get nearly 600 kilometres to the tank!
My favourite part of the 435i is its hidden hatch. It’s designed to present as a regular sedan with only the trunk lid that opens, but the good folks at BMW have smartly designed it so that the entire rear glass and lid open up. All the cars I’ve owned have been hatchbacks, so I’m partial to their practicality.
Beneath the hood is a 3.0-litre 300 horsepower twin power turbo inline 6, with an eight-speed transmission. The seating position felt like a coupe: low to the ground yet with clear forward vision. It’s equipped with a striking Harman Kardon sound system that will certainly rival some of the best stock car audio systems available.
My model was loaded with the Premium Package ($4,900), the M Performance Package ($1,900), and the ConnectedDrive Services Prof with ARTTI Package ($500) which included the standalone options of Head-Up Display ($1,500), Metallic Paint ($895) and Speed Limit Info ($350). Add that to the base price of $55,600, and the price as tested is a reasonable $65,645 considering the bang you’re getting for your buck.
My week with the 435i was everything I’ve come to expect from BMW: a memorable driving experience framed with an elegant design, smart engineering and luxurious styling.
If you find yourself with a new path available to you, I would implore you to explore it, experience it, and—similar to BMW’s 435i Gran Coupe—do it extremely well.