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DEFYING DEFINITION: BMW’s 2018 430i xDrive Gran Coupe is really just a four-door sedan with a liftgate instead of a trunk

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — What is a coupe? Webster’s New World defines it as “a closed two-door automobile with a body smaller that of a sedan.”

Which raises the question: What is there about the 2018 BMW 430i xDrive Gran Coupe that meets even the slightest part of that definition?

OK, so BMW can call the Gran Coupe anything it wants. What it is, is a four-door sedan based on the popular 3-Series, except instead of a standard trunk it features a power liftgate design. That, and a foldable rear seat, enhances the utility of the vehicle by fair margin, making loading and unloading cargo a breeze.

The cabin is fairly typical BMW, which means fine materials, carefully assembled. The front buckets are of the sport variety, meaning seriously bolstered, multi-adjustable with four-way lumbar support, under-leg extensions and superb support with all-day comfort.

The perches were clad with new-this-year Cognac leather, which contrasted beautifully with glistening Jacoba Brown Metallic paint ($550).

BMW’s dashboard designs have undergone rather marginal evolutionary changes over the last few years. So familiarity doesn’t necessarily breed contempt, just a kind of been-there, seen-that impression. Even so, the Gran Coupe’s version is attractive and ergonomically sound.

The 430i is powered by BMW’s superb 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Even though having to motivate a rather porky 3,740 pounds of compact car, the Gran Coupe delivers some serious scoot. Particularly noteworthy is the powertrain’s 23 mpg city/33 highway EPA fuel rating. Quick and economical!

The car lives up to BMW’s mantra of sporty handling, with a firm-but-compliant ride and flat, grippy cornering. The driver can choose from Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ for the suspension, steering, and transmission settings.

Like most German cars, the switchgear, door locks, power windows, etc., operate with a reassuring, well-lubed precision that delivers a solid affirmation that your (rather substantial) money was well spent.

So, coupe or not, the 430i Gran Coupe is an excellent option in BMW’s ever-expanding lineup of high-quality vehicles. If the company has to stretch an automotive definition or two, so be it.

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