Review of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe
By Russell Bray
BMW 640d Gran Coupe
These days most of us fly to our holiday destinations but if I had one of BMW’s first ever four-door coupes and was heading for somewhere in Europe I would be telling the family: We’re driving.
Whichever engine you pick; there’s a choice of two petrols and one diesel, long distances are what the new 6-Series Gran Coupe is all about.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Consider the styling. This is the best looking BMW of recent years with a real beauty and a timeless elegance.
There’s even that subtle hint of shark-like menace performance cars need.
BMW reckons the Gran Coupe, at prices from £61,390 to £75,150, could tempt buyers away from the Aston Martin Rapide, Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte, as well as the more obvious Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7 Coupe.
They could well be right.
For instance, the BMW’s interior is special. Its quality and materials wouldn’t disgrace a Bentley, while easy access to the rear seats and a huge boot make it truly practical.
Yes, arch opponent Mercedes re-invented the four-door coupe nearly eight years ago but its latest car has gone rather fussy while the Audi’s styling is too family generic.
BMW says the twin-turbo, six-cylinder 640d diesel at £63,900 will be its best seller in the UK, so that’s the car tested here, though for those who love petrol power there’s a 316bhp turbo-petrol or the mighty twin-turbo 444bhp V8.
Though it’s 113cms longer than a normal 6-Series to provide proper rear passenger space, the Gran Coupe feels more agile and drives even better.
Adding length between the front and rear wheels has given it extra stability and the way you can dance this big, heavy car into corners under brakes is fantastic.
The Gran Coupe flows along all types of roads with a feeling of safety and composure while still giving the driver the fun of a sporting car.
I was lucky enough to try the car in France, as well as in the UK, on mountain roads west of Colmar.
Bend followed bend in a giddy delight, road surfaces and grip levels changing as the sun warmed but the 640d delivered real thrills.
Active roll bars meant the Gran Coupe cornered ‘flat’ while continuously variable damping took care of road irregularities. It took time before I realised I didn’t have to keep wincing.
How the BMW drives is up to you if you have hit the options list. There are settings which allow adjustment of the accelerator response, steering effort, speed of gear changes and suspension stiffness.
As with a fine wine or a new golf club, the more options you have, the longer it will take you to appreciate the true capabilities of this sublime grand tourer that can behave like a sports car.
My advice though would be to avoid the optional active steering if you are a keener driver who wants to feel what the car is doing. It’s sad enough it being an electric set up, rather than hydraulic, to save a few atoms of CO2.
Even on short straights savage acceleration is always available thanks to the monster torque of the engine – the twisting force that delivers performance.
The 640d, at 309bhp, is down on the 444bhp of the 650i V8 but there’s only 20 newton metres difference in torque so that the diesel can hit 62mph from rest in 5.4 seconds – less than a second slower than the 650i.
Changing gear using paddles on the steering wheel increases driver involvement but isn’t worth bothering because the eight-speed ZF gearbox is so smooth and fast responding.
Driving modes can be selected according to road conditions or driver mood with comfort, comfort plus, sport, sport plus or fuel saving Eco Pro just a press of a switch away.
It’s a big, wide car so it takes time to sense where to place it on the road and in tight spots the all-round optional cameras keep blood pressure down.
But I know what you are thinking: It’s a diesel and the sophisticated image vanishes once you hear the rattle.
Not with this car it doesn’t. It sounds great, even at high revs. The neighbours will never believe it’s an oiler capable of 50mpg in mixed motoring.
Drive the family to the south of France this year. Oh, and take the mountain road.
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Facts at a glance
BMW 640d Gran Coupe
Engine: 2993cc, six-cylinder twin-turbo diesel
Power/Torque: 309bhp @ 4400rpm/ 630 Newton metres @ 1500rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 50.4 mpg (combined)
Acceleration 0-62mph: 5.4 sec
Top speed 155mph (electronically limited)
Price: £63,900 Road tax band F. Road tax £135