- Superb refinement
- Smooth ride
- Lacks desirability
- Odd design
In the Recombu Cars BMW 6 Series GT review, Ben Griffin heads to Berkshire to drive a car that wants to fill the gap between the latest 5 Series and 7 Series.
BMW has become the Polyfilla of car manufacturers because if there is a gap in the market for a new model, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, it will fill it. That is why we have the X6, X5, X4, X3, X1 and next year the gap in that list will be gone.
The latest offering is the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, which joins the 6 Series Gran Coupe in the range and sits between the 5 Series saloon and 7 Series luxury cruiser. It aims to combine the handling of the former with the comfort of the latter.
You could compare it with the Audi A7 Sportback or Mercedes-Benz GLE, but in reality it is a five-door hatchback that occupies its own self-made niche.
Replacing the 5 Series Gran Turismo was never going to be too difficult because it was a bit odd. So the bar for expectation is as low as the number of 5 Series sales sold with the GT badge ─ just 631 in the UK in 2016.
To be fair, a number of niche gambles have ended up being incredibly lucrative for BMW so we cannot blame it for having another go, this time with a much stronger effort that features more tech, greater interior space and superior refinement.
We headed down to Sheepdrove Organic Farm in Lambourn, Berkshire, to see what the BMW 6 Series GT can do and find out whether it makes any sense.
BMW 6 Series GT review: The design
A standard BMW 6 Series is especially pretty, as is the Gran Coupe variant. The same cannot be said for the 6 Series GT because, despite having the trademark kidney grille and other BMW styling cues, it looks awkward.
There is more of it to look at, too, as the 6 Series is 8cm longer than the 5 Series GT and sits on the same wheelbase as the new 7 Series.
It is, however, 2cm lower so you still have a loftier seating position ─ 6cm above the 5 Series saloon ─ for a more road-dominating seating position but headroom has been kept the same.
Despite being a bit of a beast, the 6 Series GT has a drag coefficient of just 0.25, down from 0.29, which has been made possible by an active spoiler that reduces lift, active radiator grille flaps and air-breathers for the front wheels.
In terms of suspension, BMW has used a mix of 7 Series and 5 Series components, while the weight of the 6 Series GT has been reduced by an average of 150kg across the range so there is less for the 255bhp 630i petrol, 335bhp xDrive 640i petrol and 261bhp 630d diesel to move.
The cabin is much more like that of the new 5 Series, which means you get just about every gadget and gizmo you could ever want in addition to comfortable seats and a slightly fresher design interior design. You certainly get your luxury fix.
BMW 6 Series GT review: The handling and ride quality
It is immediately obvious the 6 Series GT is closer in ride and handling to the 7 Series than the 5 Series saloon or estate. Regardless of the road condition, the suspension cushions imperfections with remarkable ease – even without Comfort mode engaged.
The turn of speed is impressive, too, especially with the 630d diesel. You will never want for more pace, especially as you get bags of torque from very low in the rev range.
The 640i xDrive offers the most pace ─ 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds compared to 6.3 seconds for the 630i ─ but it feels out of place in a car designed to move four people in a gentle wave of luxury and serenity.
Only at low revs does the diesel make much of a din, but the larger displacement BMW diesels have a nice throatiness so it is never an issue. In any case, the eight-speed automatic keeps the revs inaudibly low as soon as you ease off.
The downside of the 6 Series GT is that, like the barge-esque 7 Series, the softness means more roll in the corners than the rigid 5 Series and the added heft certainly limits the speed you can plough into a corner.
Even so, the 6 Series GT is surprisingly capable of fast drives and amusing during them, especially as the understeer of the all-wheel drive 630d xDrive model is predictable and the back end will step out of line if you try hard enough.
The raised seating position does make the 6 Series GT feel more commanding and works nicely with the decent levels of visibility. Squeezing through the single-file towns of Berkshire was never an issue.
In fact, the only problem we experienced (besides how it looks) is that we struggled to reverse park at the end of our drive. Upon selecting the backwards gear, we were met with zero movement and a grinding noise ─ as if the automatic had temporarily ignored our wishes. Attempting reverse again cured the issue.
The point of the 6 Series GT is to be smooth and quiet and it does both of those things brilliantly. Plus, thanks to the raised seating position, it feels a little SUV-esque and that will go down a treat with some buyers.
BMW 6 Series GT: The practicality and technology
The 6 Series GT can hold an impressive 610 litres of space if the rear seats are in use and 1,800 litres if folded down, bettering the 5 Series Touring by 40 litres and 100 litres, respectively. Not only that, the revised loading area is wider.
Where it falls down is that the boot is hamstrung by a sloping roof, which makes it less useful for transporting the family quadruped or taller items.
Being able to specify xDrive all-wheel drive means you could probably make it out of a muddy or snowy car park. You can also pay £850 for an electric tow bar, in case you want to tow things.
The interior itself is remarkably spacious to the point where it really does feel like a 7 Series. The amount of leg room and headroom is more than adequate for the early six-foot club, regardless of whether you are in the front or back.
The rear seats sit a little higher than the front, which can be good for travel sickness sufferers who want to see through the windscreen. Sadly, the middle seat has a transmission tunnel and flat back that resigns it to children or unlucky adults.
BMW 6 Series GT: The UK price and running costs
Even though the 6 Series GT comes across as the most luxurious in the range, it actually starts a little cheaper than the Gran Coupe ─ yours from around £48,000. The 630d xDrive GT M Sport we drove starts from £56,100.
Being a BMW means the options list is very, very long indeed. A total of £14,265 has been added to the car in the form of the Premium Package (£2,445), Rear Seat Comfort Package (£2,995), 2-axle air suspension (£1,670) and Technology Package (£1,495) to list a few items.
At a total of £71,145, you could buy a well-specced 7 Series Saloon or 7 Series iPerformance hybrid. Or get a 5 Series, take a hit on boot space and use the difference to renovate your house.
At least the fuel economy is decent, with the six-cylinder diesel said to be capable of 55.3mpg and we saw the fourties quite easily. The 640i, meanwhile, is only capable of 35.3mpg at best and its CO2 figure of 187g/km is hardly impressive, either.
If your heart is set on the 6 Series GT, you can choose from the entry-level SE, followed by M Sport and M Sport Plus. Standard equipment throughout includes dual-zone climate control, navigation, parking camera, DAB digital radio and 18-inch alloys.
BMW 6 Series GT: Should I buy one, then?
The 6 Series GT is a very comfortable car with enough luxury to keep the executive punters happy. The problem is that it lacks the prestige, desirability, handling prowess and styling of the 5 Series and 7 Series.
It is, therefore, an oddball choice at the best of times, but its large boot, roomy interior and raised seating position make it somewhat justifiable, especially now that it looks less painful on the eye than the 5 Series GT before it.
- 3.0-litre six-cylinder TwinPower Turbo diesel
- 265hp at 4,000rpm
- 457lb/ft (620Nm) at 2,000-2,500rpm
- 0-62mph in 6 seconds (top speed 155mph)
- 154g/km of CO2
- 55.3mpg (combined)
- From £56,100 (£71,145 tested)