2018 Volkswagen Golf R vs. 2018 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen Golf R are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Golf R has standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf R has standard Maneuver Braking, which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Golf R. But it costs extra on the 4 Series Gran Coupe.

To help make backing safer, the Golf R’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Golf R and the 4 Series Gran Coupe have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Golf R the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 136 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The Golf R comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are almost 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Golf R’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen Golf R’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Engine

The Golf R’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 44 more horsepower (292 vs. 248) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the 430i Gran Coupe’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Golf R uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The 4 Series Gran Coupe requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The Golf R offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Golf R offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer an SMG.

The Golf R’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Golf R’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 4 Series Gran Coupe:

 

Golf R

4 Series Gran Coupe

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.8 inches

The Golf R stops shorter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe:

 

Golf R

4 Series Gran Coupe

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

162 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Golf R has larger tires than the 4 Series Gran Coupe (235/35R19 vs. 225/45R18). The Golf R’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 4 Series Gran Coupe (235/35R19 vs. 225/45R18).

The Golf R’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s standard 45 series tires. The Golf R’s tires are lower profile than the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional 40 series front tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Golf R has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Suspension and Handling

The Golf R handles at .95 G’s, while the 430i Gran Coupe pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Golf R’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.1 feet). The Golf R’s turning circle is 2.9 feet tighter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe xDrive’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Golf R may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 550 pounds less than the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

The Golf R is 1 foot, 2.3 inches shorter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe, making the Golf R easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Golf R has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 4 Series Gran Coupe can only carry 2.

The Golf R has 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.2 inches more rear headroom and 1.9 inches more rear legroom than the 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf R has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the 4 Series Gran Coupe with its rear seat up (22.8 vs. 17 cubic feet). The Golf R has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the 4 Series Gran Coupe with its rear seat folded (52.7 vs. 45.9 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Golf R to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf R has a standard rear wiper. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Golf R owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Golf R will cost $1993 less than the 4 Series Gran Coupe over a five-year period.

The Golf R will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Golf R will retain 51.76% to 76.95% of its original price after five years, while the 4 Series Gran Coupe only retains 44.99% to 47.5%.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volkswagen Golf R will be $6042 to $11005 less than for the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Recommendations

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 11 of the last 11 years. The 4 Series hasn’t been picked since 2014.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has never been chosen.

The Golf R was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The 4 Series hasn’t been picked since 2014.

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the BMW 4 Series by 30% during the 2017 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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