When BMW launched the 6 Series Gran Coupe in 2012, many have labeled the four-door coupe as the best looking BMW ever built. The elegant lines, perfect proportions and sportiness in one package have made the 6 Series Gran Coupe one of the most desirable cars on the road and an instant head-turner.
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We first encountered the 6 Gran Coupe in the beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, where we had the chance to sample the 640i Gran Coupe variant, one of the only two models offered in the U.S., the other one being the top-dog 650i. So when we heard about the opportunity to test drive a diesel version of the 6 Series Gran Coupe, we quickly packed our bags and headed to Europe. And to make things even more interesting, we decided to put the 640d Gran Coupe through the corners of one of the best driving roads in the world: Transfagarasan.
The Transfăgărășan (trans (over, across) + Făgăraș) is the second-highest paved road in Romania. Also known as Ceaușescu’s Folly, it was built as a strategic military route, the 90 km of twists and turns run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu. The road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Pitești. In September 2009 the cast and crew of the British television show Top Gear were seen filming along the road and Jeremy Clarkson went on to declare the Transfăgărășan as “the best road in the world” – a title that the presenters previously gave to the Stelvio Pass in Italy.
So with a great road ahead of us, we picked up our 2014 BMW 640d xDrive with M Sport Package and the BMW Individual Tanzanite Blue. The list of options included, among many others, the Adaptive Drive feature, Adaptive LED Headlights and the beautiful Glass Roof. A total of 16,000 euros in options that brings the 640d xDrive to an unthinkable, for those of us that live in the US, 113,000 euros price.
STYLING – A HEAD TURNER NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO
Adrian Van Hooydonk and his team must have had a lot of fun with this car. Basically starting from an-already exceptional model, the 6 Series Coupe, the designers’ job was to turn this into an elegant, yet sporty Gran Tourer, with the use of BMW’s historical design cues and for the first time, the shape of a coupe with four doors. 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 but with more headroom allocated to rear passengers. A sleek Gran Coupe logo is embedded in thee shut panel next to the car’s trademark Hofmeister Kink. The flowing roofline, chiseled shoulders and tapered tail all bring it together and shows us why the 6 Series Gran Coupe will give the Audi A7 a run for its money. The M Sport package is just the icing on the cake with its super aggressive front bumper and the 19″ M Light Alloy Wheels Double-spoke 351M.
A CABIN THAT MAKES YOU FEEL AT HOME
The interior design of the 6 Series Gran Coupe is welcoming and one of the most elegant, comfortable and luxurious than any other BMW out there. Built as a niche car in the 6 Series family, the Gran Coupe has to stand out with more than just proportions and design lines, therefore the designers also worked hard on the interior layout, which combines high-end luxury with clever gadgets. From the dominating 10.2in navigation screen on the dashboard, to the dash angled slightly towards the driver and a huge leather-wrapped curvature separating the front passenger from all the controls, the interior of the 6 Gran Coupe really differentiate the Gran Coupe from the 5 Series and 7 Series models.
For 2014, the 6 Series Gran Coupe also gets the iDrive Touch Controller. The M Sport Package adds typical M elements, like the M footrest, M Steering Wheel and M Gear Selector. The integrated seatbelts are a bit strange if you’re a tall person since they’re constantly tugging down on your right shoulder. In the back, the extra legroom certainly helps, but still a bit too small for a 6″2 tall man. The higher roof though is an improvement over the 6 Series Coupe and for the first time I was able to sit comfortably in a 6er. By carving out the door panels and stretching the seat bench the full width of the car, BMW is offering acceptable seating to four passengers.
Over the course of a few days, we spent nearly 1,000 miles with the 640d xDrive Gran Coupe, with a combination of high-altitude driving, highway miles and even little villages with barely paved roads. This wide range of driving scenarios has given us a better understanding of the car’s capabilities and who is it suited for.
Before we jump into the driving experience, let’s start with the heart of the car. The twin-turbo six-cylinder 3.0-liter engine makes 313 horsepower and impressive 630Nm (465 lb-ft) of torque. BMW states that the 640d xDrive runs to 100 km/h (62 mph) in about 5.4 seconds. This is an engine that usually impresses well beyond numbers by working together with a super-smooth drivetrain eight-speed auto, but in our driving style has fallen a bit short due to hefty weight that the 640d xDrive packs: 1945 kg (4288 lbs).
On a great road with hundreds of turns and hairpins, we pushed the car quite a bit to see how it handles itself out of its comfort zone. With the Sport and Sport+ modes engaged, the car becomes stiffer and more responsive, yet it is still a touch bouncy over a series of curvy roads. The floating feeling at times is felt by everyone in the car and it takes longer than you’d expect to settle properly on the road after hitting a tight corner. Yet there’s tremendous pull from low revs and a cool-sounding growl as revs climb towards the 5500rpm redline.
The xDrive system does help quite a bit with grip, which made us wonder how different would have been to drive the slightly skinnier RWD 640d. Back on on two-lane roads where passing cars becomes a sport and a Russian roulette at times, the engine could use a bit more power to handle the weight of the car. Certainly the 4.4 liter V8 in the 650i is the perfect choice, but then again fuel prices in Europe are a bit ridiculous for those of us spoiled here in the US.
In “normal leisure driving”, and most likely what the car was intended for, the 2014 BMW 640d xDrive Gran Coupe is the perfect gran tourer. In Comfort setting, the suspension is capable of neutralizing even some imperfect roads we’ve encountered on the way. The engineers worked hard with the Adaptive Drive system to ensure that coarse surfaces don’t spoil the otherwise exceptional refinement. Without the Active Drive, which uses electronically controlled anti-roll bars to limit body lean in corners, the five meter long will certainly lose some of its sporty capabilities.
Driving on the fairly short and limited highways in Romania is somewhat uneventful. The car does what it does best and gives the driver and his passengers a calming and relaxing ride. The excitement usually comes from the curiosity of other drives who pull close to the car, sometimes too close, to see what we’re working with. And Jeremy Clarkson was right. Transfagarasan is one of the best driving roads in the world. The elevations, the tight corners, the hairpins, the smooth pavement, the lack of siderails, make for an exciting experience that simply puts a smile on your face. And let’s not forget about the scenery surrounding this road with the Carpathians on both sides of it. If you fancy riding bikes, then taking a trip here is a no-brainer.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
If you’re a young executive or someone that simply enjoys luxury, comfort and space in a car, and has yet to fit the demographic of the 7 Series, then the 6 Series Gran Coupe is the perfect choice from the BMW line-up. The Gran Coupe fit perfectly between the 5 Series and 6 Series and delivers a sedan-like practicality with coupe sportiness, but still cheaper than a 7 Series.
Granted there are some great competitors out there, from the segment defining Mercedes-Benz CLS to the Audi’s elegant A7, both cars that aim to lure in customers looking for a fast and comfortable transport. Most likely the final purchasing decision will come down to pricing, incentives and in some markets, fuel economy.
[PHOTOS: Ciprian Mihai Photography]
Reviewed by Horatiu Boeriu on
One Of The Best Looking BMWs
The BMW 640d Gran Coupe fit perfectly between the 5 Series and 6 Series and delivers a sedan-like practicality with coupe sportiness