BMW has taken an age to join the increasingly popular coupé-with-more-than-two-doors party. But, in true debutante style, the 6 Series Gran Coupé has arrived fashionably late and is turning heads.
Now it's here, the Munich-based manufacturer is aiming high. Rather than targeting the Mercedes-Benz CLS or the brilliant Audi A7, BMW has its sights set on Stuttgart, and the Porsche Panamera.
We took it on a mammoth 520-mile trek through France to see whether it is worth the wait, and whether it's serious competition for its longer-established rivals.
The 6 Series Gran Coupé might havea surplus of doors, but it is a beautifully proportioned car. It is based on the 6 Series Coupé, but has a 113mm longer wheelbase to improve cabin space and ride comfort. The long bonnet and sweeping roofline give it a dynamic stance that's accentuated by the roof spoiler-mounted third brake light spanning the length of the rear window.
It's not just a pretty face. The extensive use of aluminium in the body and chassis has enabled engineers to keep weight down whilst improving performance; helping deliver the driving prowess BMW owners have come to expect, and which has consistently led the Bavarian automaker to the top of the list of the best drivers cars.
Though the roofline is low -- it sits 25mm lower than that of the Mercedes-Benz CLS -- you needn’t fold yourself in half whilst getting in or out of the 6 Series Gran Coupé. Entry into the plush cabin is surprisingly simple and once inside, you're greeted by a quite lovely interior.
In typical BMW fashion, the seats are wonderfully supportive and supremely comfortable, befitting a Grand Tourer. And unlike the CLS or Audi A7, there is actually a space for a third passenger in the back -- provided they don’t mind straddling the centre console that extends to touch the rear seat. This feature alone should go a long way in helping rationalise a purchasing decision.
Need more reasons? The 460-litre boot can accommodate two golf bags. It expands to 1,265 litres with the rear seat backs folded and you can even carry not one, but two pairs of skis via an optional through-loading hatch.
Performance & Handling
The 640d we tested through France is a formidable motorway cruiser. Its TwinPower turbocharged 6-cylinder engine puts out 313hp and a prodigious 630Nm of torque -- 60hp and 80Nm more than the Panamera diesel -- and drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
BMW claims 0-62mph runs in 5.4 seconds -- or as fast as a Porsche Cayman S with a manual transmission (the petrol powered 640i matches its diesel sibling’s figure). This made regaining speed after stopping at the many French autoroute ‘péages’ effortless, and provided peace of mind when gliding the 1865kg machine around slower moving traffic.
But the Gran Coupé is far more than a drag strip challenger. It belies its weight and tackles corners with aplomb, thanks in part to the 245/35 R20 (front) 275/30 R20 (rear) tyres fitted to our M-Sport spec model -- the largest on offer from BMW. Though normally harsh over bumpy, uneven surfaces, the wheel/tyre combination was suitable on UK motorways as well, aided by the various settings available through the car’s Active Drive system.
Over the course of our journey, we spent some time shuttling through its five settings – Eco Pro, Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Comfort+ -- which serves to adjust the steering, gearbox and throttle response as well as tune the suspension settings, and discovered the nuances that rendered the 6 Series Gran Coupé more agile or comfortable, all at the push of a button.
The system works well, although once the novelty has worn off, you'll likely stick with Eco Pro to save petrol or Sport+ mode to maximise performance.
Economy & Environment
Every manufacturer is conscious of fuel economy and emissions figures these days, whether they’re catering to eco-conscious city-dwellers or performance enthusiasts. But whilst you’re not likely to be in the former category when shopping for a 6 Series Gran Coupé, you’ll still be pleased to know the 640d is as economical as a run of the mill hatchback.
This is accomplished mostly through BMW’s implementation of its patented EfficientDynamics technologies -- including auto start-stop, Eco Pro modes, brake energy regeneration, active aerodynamics, Servotronic-equipped electric power steering and high precision direct injection -- which is fitted as standard on all models in the Gran Coupé range.
We managed an impressive 45mpg on average, which isn't far off BMW’s claimed 49.6mpg combined figure, while the company claims CO2 emissions of just 148g/km, placing the 640d in VED Band F. Motorway reps rejoice!
Equipment & Value
You won’t be left wanting for equipment on the 6 Series Gran Coupé. Standard features on SE versions include leather upholstery, BMW’s Professional Navigation with 10.2” high-resolution display, and the latest generation of ConnectedDrive. This provides traffic information, Internet connectivity, apps, a telephone enquiry service as well as on-board cameras and sensor information. You also get front and rear Park Distance Control, Keyless Go, two-zone climate control, electronic two-way steering adjustment and heated front seats -- all for a cool £62,985.
Our M Sport test car added £4,665 to the SE’s base price, and came fitted with a slew of optional equipment including 20-inch M Double-spoke alloy wheels (£1,105), body roll-reducing Adaptive Drive (£3,400), four zone automatic air conditioning (£1,230), ceramic finish for the controls (£385), DAB digital radio (£315), Alcantara headlining (£865), a head-up display (£980), and a leather instrument panel (£1,000). If you're willing to spend the cash, it's possible to push the price of a 6 Series Gran Coupé north of £85,000.
BMW isn’t known for skimping on safety. You name it, it’s here; from side and head airbags to electronic brake force distribution, Dynamic Stability Control Plus (DSC+), a tyre defect indicator and active head restraints. A lane departure warning system, lane change warning system, Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, speed limit display and a colour head-up display are available as options if you’d like additional peace of mind.
If you’re in the market for a motorway cruiser that’s comfortable and efficient on long journeys, you’re spoilt for choice. But if you’re looking for a grand tourer that will literally devour the road ahead with panache, your choice narrows.
The 640d is a must have on the list, especially when compared to its chief competitors. It’s far better looking than the Panamera, is technologically superior to the Maserati GranTurismo, and is has a greater sense of occasion than the CLS. The only contender even worth cross shopping is an A7.
Model tested: 640d M Sport Gran Coupé
Engine: 2,993cc six-cylinder two-stage turbocharged diesel
Power: 313hp @ 4400
Torque: 630Nm @ 1500 – 2500
Acceleration: 0-62 in 5.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Economy: 50.4mpg (claimed)
Emissions: 148g/km CO2
Price: £85,030 OTR