We all know what a BMW is. Some of us also know what a BMW 4-Series is — if you don’t, think 3-Series, only with a wider, lower-slung body and just two doors. But what the hell is a “Gran Coupe?”

Well, the way BMW’s sees it, a Gran Coupe is basically a wider, lower-slung coupe with the two rear doors added back in. Other differences include frameless door windows, and in the case of the 4-Series Gran Coupe, folding rear seats and a hatchback. As such, the 4GC — that’s what I like to call it — is both Costco-friendly and dog-friendly. See? There’s even something in it for Fido.

But there’s way more to the 4GC than pet-totin’ practicality. For one thing, since few people know what it is, the 4GC is rare, so you won’t see yourself coming and going. And even if you do, that’s no bad thing, as it is a rather beautiful thing that gets more attention than Justin Bieber on a Calvin Klein billboard (and doesn’t need Photoshop to get it).

But perhaps the best reason to consider a 4GC is in fact the best reason to consider any BMW: it is rather brilliant to drive, especially if you spring for the Sport package.

To me, it doesn’t matter much whether you choose the turbocharged four-cylinder 428i or the more powerful six-cylinder 435i; the former is great and the latter is simply more great. Just be careful with options, as a well-optioned 435i can top $60K without much trouble, and that’s a lot for what’s essentially a 3-Series, no matter how sexy it looks.

So now that you know what a 4-Series is, and what a Gran Coupe is, you can forget what a 3-Series is and be no worse for it. The 4-Series Gran Coupe is the 3-Series for the stylish set, with some practicality tossed in for good measure.

2015 BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe
Base Price (including destination): $41,250 (428i); $46,750 (435i)
Power: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (240 hp, 255 lb-ft of torque); 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder (300 hp, 300 lb-ft of torque)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift control
Fuel Economy, city/hwy: 23/34 mpg (428i), 21/32 mpg (435i)

Or you could buy:
Audi A4
Lexus IS
BMW 328i Sportwagon