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First drive: BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.

First drive: BMW 420d M Sport
Great dynamics, same challenging looks, but at least this BMW 4 Series is slightly more affordable to buy and run.


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BMW 420d M Sport

4 4 4 4 4

Having sampled the current performance flagship of the contentious new BMW 4 Series range, now we go to the other end of the scale with the model you're likely going to see the most of on UK motorways in the near-future: it's the 420d M Sport.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 420d M Sport Coupe
Pricing: 4 Series Coupe range from 40,640, 420d M Sport from 43,090, car as tested 48,865
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed Steptronic automatic
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 112g/km, NEDC-correlated from WLTP testing (VED Band 111-130: 175 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 67.3mpg, NEDC-correlated from WLTP
Top speed: 149mph
0-62mph: 7.1 seconds
Power: 190hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm
Boot space: 440 litres

What's this?

A new BMW 4 Series, powered by the now-unfashionable turbodiesel engine and sending all of its power and torque to the rear axle alone. This 420d M Sport isn't quite the cheapest new Four you can buy, as that honorific falls on the shoulders of the 420i petrol model, but realistically the 420d should still make up most of the sales numbers, given it blends diesel parsimony with the style of a coupe. On which note, we said all we wanted to say about the, um... distinctive exterior of this BMW in our M440i review and we're not going to expand on that matter any more than we already have, save to say that a pair of chrome highlights for the kidney grilles do precisely nothing to tone down the signature feature of this car. Oh, and that smaller alloys (18-inch bicolour rims) appear completely lost in the rear arches.

Nevertheless, inside the cabin feels almost every inch as grand as the one in the M440i, which reflects very favourably on this M Sport model and perhaps not as well on the 55-grand halo car. Mind you, our test car was fitted with two sizeable and optional equipment bundles, in the form of the 3,650 Technology Plus Pack and the 1,950 Comfort Plus Pack, so maybe a bog-basic car handed out on the company fleet scheme might not feel as plush. Nevertheless, stupidly fat M Sport steering wheel and somewhat cluttered digital instrument cluster aside, it's safe to say the interior of the 4 Series is excellent across the board and it looks like it could have a chance of genuinely carrying four adults within it from time to time.

How does it drive?

If the 420d represents a dying breed of the diesel-powered compact executive car, we have to say it'll be a shame to see such things go. BMW has done the pretty standard opening eco-gambit of the 2020s, namely fitting 48-volt mild-hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) technology to the Four, in an effort to make it cleaner, more frugal and perhaps a touch more appealing than it otherwise would be. And the resulting drivetrain is exceptional.

At no point does the 2.0-litre, 190hp diesel engine ever get much louder than a discreet, background rumble. Until you've got about 3,000rpm on the dial, you'll barely hear it at all and you certainly won't discern any notable vibrations from it, even if you're (needlessly) spinning it out in every gear to deliberately try and upset the 420d's unruffled composure. Allied to a silky eight-speed Steptronic transmission, the drivetrain is everything you could need from a car like this, with sharp responses, mega mid-range muscle and effortless refinement.

Better still, the 420d - while obviously not quite as alluring in the dynamic department as the M-fettled M440i - feels sharper, as it should, than an equivalent 3 Series. It's not overtly rear-driven in the sensations it conveys to its driver for 80 per cent of the time, but if you start pushing it towards the limits of its chassis then the traditional BMW 'feel' begins to shine through. Sure, 2.0-litre diesel cars are never going to give you the sort of driving experience that will live long and indelibly in the memory, but the assured, capable and pleasing way the 420d goes about its business in the corners is a nice antidote for someone who has long loved this marque and is petrified of what styling horrors it will unleash on the world next.

Any complaints about the 420d? Not really, save for the usual one about BMW M Sports these days, which relates to the steering. In its sportier settings, the weighting is simply too heavy and too artificial in feel, so you are better off just leaving the car in its Comfort setting and forgetting about it. Although, finishing this section on a positive note, those 18-inch wheels might look diddy at the back of the car, but they promote magnificent ride comfort and rolling refinement in the 4 Series, so maybe it's worth the, er, impact on the aesthetics to enjoy such welcome characteristics once the car is in motion.


An excellently engineered diesel coupe, whether or not you're going to buy into a 49,000 (gulp...), optioned-up BMW 420d M Sport in 2020 and beyond comes down to one thing and one thing alone: the design of the bodywork. If you like that part of the car, you're going to be delighted with the way the 420d drives. If not, simply go out and get yourself into a nice Audi A5 or something.

1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 28 Oct 2020    - BMW road tests
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- 4 Series images

2020 BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2020 BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2020 BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2020 BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2020 BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.

2020 BMW 420d M Sport. Image by BMW UK.  


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