2020 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf R

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Golf R only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Golf R 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and available all wheel drive.

Warranty

The 4 Series Gran Coupe comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. BMW will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf R.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Golf R’s (12 vs. 10 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Gran Coupe for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Golf R.

Reliability

The battery on the 4 Series Gran Coupe is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Golf R’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Gran Coupe first among compact premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Golf R isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 8 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The 440i Gran Coupe’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 32 more horsepower (320 vs. 288) and 50 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 280) than the Golf R’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Golf R doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Regardless of its engine, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Golf R Auto.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Golf R (15.8 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf R.

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Golf R.

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Golf R doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Golf R’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s wheelbase is 7.1 inches longer than on the Golf R (110.6 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the 4 Series Gran Coupe is .3 inches wider in the front and 3.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Golf R.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.1% to 49.9%) than the Golf R’s (59.5% to 40.5%). This gives the 4 Series Gran Coupe more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The design of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe amounts to more than styling. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the Golf R (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the 4 Series Gran Coupe get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 430i Gran Coupe xDrive is quieter than the Golf R:

4 Series

Golf R

At idle

40 dB

50 dB

Full-Throttle

73 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 1.5 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf R.

Cargo Capacity

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the 4 Series Gran Coupe. The Golf R doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Golf R doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 4 Series Gran Coupe is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Golf R. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the 4 Series Gran Coupe, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Golf R doesn’t offer a memory system.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Golf R doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the 4 Series Gran Coupe the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Golf R can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 4 Series Gran Coupe to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Golf R doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the 4 Series Gran Coupe is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Golf R’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Golf R has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Golf R offer available heated front seats. The 4 Series Gran Coupe also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Golf R.

On extremely cold winter days, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Golf R doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 4 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Golf R doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Golf R doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 4 Series comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Golf R isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Golf R doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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

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