BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe review
If you believe in atoning for your sins, BMW is most definitely back in our saintly good books with the new 6 Series Gran Coupe. The sinful fall from grace came in the form of the ungainly, awkward and unappealing 5 Series GT, a car that tried to take on the Mercedes CLS and R-Class at the same time and lost on both counts. That’s saying something when the Merc R-Class is as rare on our roads as it is mediocre to drive.
The Gran Coupe is none of these things, thankfully. It’s a direct rival for the latest Mercedes CLS, plus Audi’s A7, but BMW also has the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera in the cross-hairs of its roundel badge. Where the Audi and Merc don’t get on terms with the Maserati and Porsche, even in their more extreme performance versions, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe does and achieves this with considerable ease.
Where the 6 Series Coupe is not quite a rival to the Porsche 911, the Gran Coupe makes the Panamera seem ill-proportioned and lumpen in one easy move. Dr Karim Habib, the man responsible for the look of the Gran Coupe, told itsgotwheels: ‘We had to make the Gran Coupe distinct from the Coupe yet clearly part of that family. This is why we deliberately styled the car with a boot rather than trying to fool the eye into thinking it’s a coupe. Achieving the low roof line and muscular flanks was more important to give the car the right stance.’
Dr Habib can relax: the 6 Series Gran Coupe looks sensational from every angle, even in the unusual Frozen Bronze with matt finish some of the cars we tried were painted in.
It’s the same story inside the Gran Coupe, where it has a much more bespoke feel than a Mercedes or Audi, or even a Maserati or Porsche. Admittedly, the test cars we tried were kitted out with a selection of BMW’s Individual accoutrements, including white leather and marble-effect finish for some of the trim panels. It sounds like the inside of Hugh Hefner’s mind, but works in hide-bound reality.
There are more sober finishes on offer and the Gran Coupe can also be ordered in M Sport trim. This comes with a more aggressive exterior look, 19-inch alloy wheels in place of the SE’s 18-inch items, and sports seats and anthracite headlining inside.
There’s no performance advantage to choosing the M Sport model, which adds £4665 to the starting price of £61,390 the 640i SE or the 640d’s £63,900. The 640i uses the same 3.0-litre turbo petrol engine as the 6 Series Coupe and Convertible with 320bhp. It sees the 640i Gran Coupe from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, only 0.1 second behind the two-door Coupe.
This performance is all the more impressive when you learn the Gran Coupe is 113mm longer than the standard Coupe. The extra length is all in the wheelbase, which allows for greater rear legroom. Two adults can sit in complete comfort in the rear of the Gran Coupe, though taller passengers may find their heads brushing the ceiling. As for the middle rear seat, it’s strictly for emergencies or children.
A big boot means the Gran Coupe can carry the obligatory golf clubs or holiday cases, and BMW has fitted levers in the boot to drop the split and tip rear seats quickly and easily.
This makes the 6 Series Gran Coupe all the more practical as an everyday machine. Unless you cover few miles, have deep pockets or a big dislike of diesels, the 640d is the most practical of the lot and can cover more than 700 miles between fills thanks to a 70-litre tank and average economy of 50.4mpg. It’s helped here by BMW EfficientDynamics and the ECO Pro mode for the gearbox should the driver choose it.
Much more important to the 640d’s appeal is its vast reserves of torque that are on tap from the merest brush of the throttle. With 472lb.ft of shove and 313bhp, it covers 0-62mph in an identical time to its petrol sister model, yet it always feels the more assured and swifter through the gears.
The 640d also has the more pleasant soundtrack, which comes as a surprise. There’s a clean six-cylinder burr to the diesel’s engine note where the petrol can sometimes sound a little strained. Work the diesel through the seamless eight-speed automatic transmission and you’ll have to keep an eye on the speedo due to the way it gathers pace so readily. At least the optional head-up display helps keep you informed of just how rapid the Gran Coupe can be when desired.
When driving quickly, the Gran Coupe deftly sidesteps the feeling of being too big for country lanes that afflicts the two-door Coupe. It’s still a big car to hustle down a narrow road, but the more settled ride quality over the 6 Series Coupe gives the driver more confidence in the Gran Coupe. That extra 113mm in the wheelbase also makes the Gran Coupe by far the better choice for pitted city streets and motorway cruising.
It’s not the 6 Series Coupe is uncomfortable or uncivilised, it’s just the Gran Coupe does it all with noticeably more panache. Maserati and Porsche now trail in the wake of the BMW, putting the 6 Series Gran Coupe firmly at the head of this rarefied class.
Brilliantly balanced handling, superb refinement and even impressive green credentials of 148g/km CO2 for the 640d (181g/km for the 640i) make the 6 Series Gran Coupe almost perfect. The just-enough rear headroom and only reasonable fuel economy for the petrol engine, which is bettered by its Mercedes CLS rival, mean the Gran Coupe avoids the sin of perfection, but damn it comes close.
Words: Al Suttie
See the 6 Series Gran Coupe M Sport European drive back here: http://www.itsgotwheels.com/bmw-6-series-gran-coupe-motorsport/
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