BMW’s niche models business is a lucrative one. Between the X4 and X6, Gran Turismo and Gran Coupe models, BMW has sold 1.13 million units. One of those niche units was the 5 Series Gran Turismo which sold nearly 25,000 units globally. But the 5 GT was one of the most design controversial cars since the famous Bangle-butt 7 Series, mostly because us, the Americans, simply dislike hatchbacks and anything resembling one.
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With that in mind, BMW has set out to create the successor of the 5 Series GT by offering a more attractive design in a similar package, but with the latest BMW design updates. The car is now called the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, which essentially it’s the only 6 Series model to be sold, at least for a while.
We’ve seen the first 6 Series GT models at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show and interesting enough, they have attracted a lot of visitors at its stand. Simply observing the crowd around the 6 GT, one would notice their immediate interest in the interior design and its cargo space, some traits that are typical for an European customer.
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At almost 5.1 meters long, the new 6 Series GT sits between a 5 and 7 Series sedan in length, and its 3070mm wheelbase will improve the cabin space.
Our second encounter with the new Gran Tourer took place in Portugal where BMW invited selected journalists to sample the 640i GT xDrive.
Dimensions and Proportions
At almost 5.1 meters long, the new 6 Series GT sits between a 5 and 7 Series sedan in length, and its 3070mm wheelbase will improve the cabin space, enough to make it even more desirable in one of its largest markets – China. The owners of a 5 Series GT will find the new hatchback to even more spacious in the rear seat, as BMW has ditched the previous individual seats in favor of a lower rear bench. This allows for more headroom and legroom.
Multi-contour seats, active seat ventilation and a massage function can be ordered for the driver and front passenger. You can also opt for adjustable backrests, which tilt electronically by up to six degrees for greater comfort on long journeys, something we got accustomed to in the new 7 Series.
Furthermore, the boot gives you 40 liters more cargo space than the 5 Series Touring with the 40:20:40 back seats in use, and a massive 110 liters more than the 5 Series GT, enough space to fit pretty much every conceivable travel bag and a lot of golf bags.
Luxurious and Spacious Cabin
The cabin of the 6 Series GT is every bit as brilliant as the new 5 Series. While it isn’t the an exact replica of the 7 Series, it’s certainly luxurious enough to satisfy almost any customer. The materials are rich, the design and ergonomics are spot on and the technology is superb. For 6 Series GT duty, the interior comes as-standard with Dakota Leather, rather than being an optional extra on most BMWs. Quilted Nappa Leather is available in Ivory White, Black and Mocha, as well.
The optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System features a fully active 10-channel amplifier with an output of 1,400 watts, plus dynamic sound equalizing, and 16 partially illuminated speakers.
Two non-metallic and 10 metallic color shades are available for the all-new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo. Customers can choose from a total of 3 different light-alloy wheels (19-inch and 20-inch). The Original BMW Accessories range also includes
21-inch light-alloy rims. The infotainment system has been lifted entirely from the 5 Series, and can be operated via the 10.25-inch touchscreen or iDrive wheel, as well as by using the car’s voice or gesture control systems. All cars come with Professional Nav, a parking camera, a 20GB hard disk and Bluetooth connectivity.
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From the front, it’s clear that this new 6 Series Gran Turismo share familial attributes with the 5 Series.
Improved Exterior Design
So while the interior quality and tech has never been an issue with the previous GT, exterior design has. Even in the less flattering white color – we believe darker shades do the 6 GT more justice – the new tourer is a more resolved and tight package than its predecessor. It certainly still has that awkward styling – one expected in its segment and constrained by proportions and exact requirements – but it’s clearly an improvement over the 5 GT.
From the front, it’s clear that this new 6 Series Gran Turismo share familial attributes with the 5 Series. Both the grilles and headlights are almost identical to the 5er, apart from being a bit bigger. It has a sleeker nose and from the side, a coupe-like styling and sweeping roofline. Out back, the taillights look similar to the new 5 Series, but slightly beefier, yet with the same beautiful graphics. It also has a pretty typical rump for a BMW Gran Turismo model, especially with the now-expected active rear spoiler.
The side hockey stick with air breathers is now functional and contributes to the aerodynamic coefficient (0.28Cd).
The new BMW 6 Series GT is built upon the platform of the short wheelbase 7 Series, so it takes advantage of BMW’s latest innovations in lightweight construction. The 6 Series GT is as much as 115 kg lighter than its predecessor, because it uses the same high-strength steel and aluminum chassis.
The model we sampled in Lisbon, Portugal was fitted with BMW’s award winning B58 3.0 liter six-cylinder engine. The engine produces 340 hp and maximum torque of 450 Nm (332 lb-ft), enabling the new BMW 640i Gran Turismo to accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) from rest in 5.4 seconds, while the new BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is a tick faster at 5.3 seconds.
It is paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox and, as the xDrive part of the name suggests, four-wheel drive.
Also fitted to the 640i as standard is BMW’s Integral Active Steering which essentially is a rear-wheel steering with wheels moving opposite to the fronts at low speed and the same direction above 60km/h.
As soon as you get behind the wheel, you will immediately notice the raised driving position which will satisfy those that are not ready to jump into an SUV, but would like some of its driving characteristics. As experienced in other BMW ’40i models, the engine is smooth with decent throttle response that doesn’t aim to throw you back into the seat of the GT. Which likely wasn’t the goal for this Gran Tourer either.
Driving dynamic engagement levels aren’t particularly high in the 6 Series GT, but BMW never meant to turn the hatchback into a weekend track warrior. It can though, as we proved with the 550i GT.
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The cabin is nearly silent, thanks to excellent sound absorption that keeps road and wind noise to an absolute minimum.
The emphasize is put on comfort during short or long commutes, hence why standard you will find the adaptive air suspension on both axles, with dynamic damper control. The steering feedback is less crisp than in a 5 Series sedan, but that’s likely due to the GT’s large proportions.
There is also a little more body lean than the sedan, which could be somewhat mitigated if you opt for the Sport mode – lowers the ride by 10 mm and tightness its suspension and steering. The cabin is nearly silent, thanks to excellent sound absorption that keeps road and wind noise to an absolute minimum.
On the smooth and curvy Portugal roads, the 6 Series GT demonstrated its character – a comfortable, spacious and extremely comfortable cruiser – that knows its place in the BMW family and its role in your daily life. BMW executives say that in Germany many customers pick a GT over a 7 Series limousine due to its less flashy status, often frowned upon in large corporations.
The 6 Series Gran Turismo is once again a controversial model in the eyes of BMW fans and customers. Its looks will likely always be scrutinized, especially when put in the context of sporty BMW cars. But if you look past its exterior design – which is still far better than the outgoing model – the 6 Series GT is actually a compelling product if you’re in this niche segment of luxurious tourers. It offers a great combination of space, utility and premium materials, which could be found only in large BMW SAVs or the flagship 7 Series. So we have no doubt, that for a certain audience, the 6 Series GT is the perfect fit.
We even dare to call it – The Practical Athlete.