BMW 640d Gran Coupe vs. Mercedes CLS 350 CDI vs. Porsche Panamera

6 Series | July 8th, 2012 by 10
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AutoExpress magazine pits the all-new BMW 640d Gran Coupe against some of its segment competitors, the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI and Porsche’s four-door gran tourer, Panamera.

The £63,900 640d Gran Coupe is powered by a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 313 horsepower and 630 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm. 0 to 62 mph is said to come in 5.4 seconds. The segment creator, Mercedes CLS, in its 350 CDI variant is priced at £54,210. Under the hood, the 350 CDI packs a 3.0-liter V6 diesel which outputs 256 horsepower capable of the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in just 6.2 seconds. Closing the circle is the Porsche Panamera, a £62,134 diesel machine powered by 3.0-liter engine that develops 247 horsepower and 55. 0-60mph is covered in 6.5 seconds.

Out of the bunch, AutoExpress picks the Mercedes CLS 350 CDI as the winner, followed closely by the new 640d Gran Coupe. But let’s have a look at how the magazine came to this conclusion:

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2nd Place – BMW 640d Gran Coupe

Thankfully, one area of the Gran Coupe that didn’t divide opinion was the drivetrain. While the engine is based on the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel that appears in the 7 Series, in the 6 Series it offers 10bhp more. The car also features a newer transmission: an eight-speed auto borrowed from the 5 Series range.

Despite being such a mix and match, the 640d’s drivetrain works beautifully. With deep reserves of low-range pulling power and perfectly spaced ratios, the car punches out of corners with an eagerness that belies its 1,865kg kerbweight. Plus, the box has a manual function that allows shifts via a pair of neatly fashioned steering wheel paddles, and this ensured the BMW was the only car of our test trio that felt happy letting its driver make the choices.

Thanks to its 5 Series underpinnings, the Gran Coupe also delivers when it comes to driving dynamics. It strikes a fine balance between sportiness and refinement – soaking up surface imperfections without robbing the driver of feedback from the road surface. The front end is accurate and easy to place, while the car’s agility through twisting sections of tarmac speaks volumes for BMW’s chassis know-how.

But if we have a criticism of the Gran Coupe, it has to be value for money. With a basic price of £63,900, the 640d is the most expensive car in this test – it costs £1,766 more than the Panamera and £9,690 more than the CLS. Although the BMW does come with a generous kit list, it offers no more space or performance than its two rivals here. So while it’s an easy car to love, your devotion will be sorely tested when you’re asked to sign on the dotted line.

Full 640d Gran Coupe review

1st Place – Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI

Unlike BMW, Mercedes doesn’t reserve special engine options solely for the CLS range. The 265bhp 3.0-litre CDI diesel and standard seven-speed automatic box will be familiar to owners of other Mercedes, and the car proves a fair match for the more powerful BMW, recording a 0-60mph time that’s only half-a-second slower. It also feels quicker and more eager to accelerate than the Gran Coupe, particularly from low speeds.

Away from the track, our CLS didn’t seem quite as sharp as its rivals. It’s composed and capable through a series of turns, but the steering feels over-assisted, particularly at low speeds. And despite our car’s £1,500 optional air-suspension, the ride wasn’t quite as supple as the smooth BMW’s.

However, the Mercedes looks something of a bargain against the competition here. Even after you’ve added creature comforts such as air-suspension, dynamic massage seats and upgraded leather trim, you’ll still be paying thousands less than you would for the BMW or Porsche.

So while the CLS isn’t perfect, with such a significant price advantage it’s easy to overlook the car’s few failings.

Full review

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