BMW is not the first premium car manufacturer to design a four door coupe, but the Bavarians’ response to the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7 is here now and ready to make a statement. The new BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe served us over the course of a weekend and at the end of a few hundred miles trip, we were left with one question: “Where have you been my whole life”?
Yes, it is that impressive and in our opinion, one of the most stylish and best looking bimmers in the current line-up. First previewed in concept car form at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show, the niche four door coupe joins the 6 Series family while sitting, price wise, between the 5 Series sedan and the flagship 7 Series.
Design – A blend of classic and avant garde
The 6er Gran Coupe offers the practicality of a four-door automobile with the sporty and elegant lines of a premium coupe. Adrian Van Hooydonk’s designing team has done an excellent job embedding the classic BMW design icons with the new design language seen across the 6er family. From the beginning the designers were concerned with proportions, just 4.5-inch longer than the 6-series coupe and convertible, yet the body gives the impression of long and lean lines, even when compared to the 7 Series. The long hood stretches out the front giving the car a road-focused look and “shark nose” with the top grill leaning forward gives the car an aggressive look. At the rear, the roof line is reminiscent of a two door coupe and the “Gran Coupe” badge in the Hoffmeister Kink reminds us of the idea behind this model.
And what’s a better place to match that design with the proper surroundings than the beautiful and scenic roads around Santa Barbara. Surrounded by vineyards and wealthy customers, the 6 Series Gran Coupe feels at home. The exterior design quickly turns heads and sparks conversations with those around: “Good looking BMW but different than what I’ve seen so far,” said a Porsche Panamera owner that just parked his car in Solvang city. “Looks like a 6 Series but with extra doors and curvy looks.” We couldn’t agree more.
Inside, luxury at its best. The sweeping dashboard from the 6 Series models wraps around the driver, providing the connection between the car and the driver as mentioned many times by the design gurus in Munich. The quality of materials is higher than ever, from the fine leather and wood to the premium plastic found on buttons and other accessories. Alcantara headliner and laser-straight double-stitching show the premium value of the Gran Coupe. Add to this the Bang & Olufsen system and gadgetry like surround-view front cameras and Head-Up display, and the package becomes even more compelling.
Up front, you sit low and with plenty of room, the seats are snug and wrapped around you, but in the back, the idea of three passengers falls short due to the extension of the center console. For those of you on the tall side, long trips may become slightly uncomfortable.
Engine – A balance between power and efficiency
With the V8–powered 650i Gran Coupe coming to market only in August, the model of choice was the entry-level, six-cylinder 640i. Carrying under the hood the N55 3.0 liter twin-scroll turbocharged unit, the sleek 640i is propelled by 315 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 330 pound-feet of torque, which comes together at 1,400 rpm and it’s flat until 4,500 rpm.
While the power is adequate for a 535i model, we felt that the nearly 4,200 lbs four-door coupe could benefit from a slightly more powered engine to satisfy our cravings for agility. But the truth of the matter is that BMW is aiming to find the perfect balance between efficiency and performance, a compelling offering for the demographic of this car. Mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox, the inline-six takes the 640i Gran Coupe from 0 to 60 mph in about 5.4 seconds, a straight line figure that won’t matter much since its purpose is quite unique.
Driving – A mixture of joy and calm
The 640i really shines on curvy roads where the extremely well balanced chassis handles our aggressive driving style without a hiccup. The car is quick to get into corners and when in Sport or Sport+ driving mode, it plants itself well into the road even at higher than advised speeds. The joy of driving is enhanced by the shifting paddles that invite you to more aggressive driving by sawing up and down the revs.
As one expects by now from modern BMWs, you can alter the suspension’s settings, as well as the transmission’s shifting, power delivery and the ESP settings by simply playing with the adaptive drive button. The driving modes range from Eco Pro to Comfort+, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ (our favorite on this trip).
Our test model came equipped with the optional adaptive antiroll bars (Active Roll Stabilization, $2,500) and Integral Active Steering ($1,750). The latter option offers variable-ratio at the front, plus a rear end that steers out of phase with the fronts at low speed and in phase at high speed. This takes some time to get used to it while driving, but the increased stability at high speeds is well worth the money.
On plain straight lines the car turns into a perfectly civilized cruiser and high speeds could be easily overlooked, leading to unnecessary speeding tickets that some of our automotive colleagues with a “Need for Speed” experienced first hand. The ride is smooth and the softer driving modes provide a relaxing ambiance.
Should I buy one?
In the last decade BMW has been entering new niche markets and even though the sales volume projection for the Gran Coupe is fairly conservative, we believe that the high-end four-door coupe will make its way every year into the hands of a few thousands extrovert drivers. Its looks help us forget about the 5 Series Gran Turismo and gives us the confidence to declare the Gran Coupe as the best-looking BMW in production. The market has already been validated by Mercedes CLS and Audi A7, so the idea of coupe with four doors is infinite easier to describe or explain to future customers.
Even at $76,895, the 640i Gran Coupe is the most desirable 6 Series on sale and we dare to say, well worth the premium.