The first four-door coupé in the history of the BMW brand is about 10 years too late to the market. As an automotive journalist who travels the world for motoring stories, mixing it up with the Bob Lutzes, Gordon Murrays, and Marek Reichmans of the world, I have gained some invaluable motoring journalistic skills, such as asking insightful questions like: “Where is the manual version?”
It is this skill set that gives me the kind of foresight necessary to know that if I cornered a BMW person with the question, “Why are you 10 years too late to the market with this car?”, they will coolly snap back with, “Our customers value the premium nature of our products and are prepared to wait for perfection.”
But at this point my investigative journalistic skills kick in and I retort with, “Does it come with a manual?”
That’s when the other party usually starts avoiding eye contact…
Never mind, because I enjoy talking to myself anyway. Just the other day, in fact, I had a great conversation with myself in the car (I love how you can just expect other motorists to assume you’re simply using Bluetooth, and not actually barking mad). Basically, I was arguing that the German car industry is all about the Big Three (Do you honestly still think that Detroit is the home of the Big Three?) sneaking peeks over each others’ shoulders and copying all the answers. If Audi is spied doing a convertible Q7 SUV with an asymmetrical door set-up à la Hyundai Veloster, then you can bet your last pretzel Mercedes-Benz and BMW are going to follow suit. But the other idiot (me, if you’re still following) just wouldn’t get it. Long story short, someone got a bloody nose.
BMW’s 6 Series Gran Coupé, too, is out to bloody plenty of noses in Ingolstadt and Stuttgart. It will take some doing though, because Mercedes-Benz has held sway in the four-door coupé segment with its CLS since 2004, and Audi only took about five years to copy the idea. BMW has only just responded with this 6 Series Gran Coupé, the third model in the line-up joining the Convertible and Coupé models launched last year. The carmaker’s designers all received a simple memo: make it look good. At this point they fired up the old Microsoft Paint, or something, and stretched the car’s wheelbase by 113mm.
Looking at it from the front or standing directly behind the rump, there’s no way to tell this is a four-door. Even the badge just reads 640i (unless you go for the 650i, in which case the badge reads 650i) without any other nomenclature suggesting the notion of Gran Coupé-ness. This is good, because even if the Gran Coupé is a substantial 23mm taller than the Coupé, its elongated profile makes it sleeker, sexier, more purposeful, and about as family orientated as a living room with a mirror ball and a stainless steel pole, floor to ceiling, in the middle. This thing is raucous.
With its 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged straight-six engine, it’s not blisteringly quick with a 0-100kph time of 5.4 seconds. But the Gran Coupé feels light on its feet, responding to commands like a zealous cocker spaniel, but implementing them like a Dobermann. The viciousness in its nature comes in the mid-range acceleration, thanks to 450Nm of torque twisting in from just about idle speed and not relenting until you pass 4,500rpm. Regardless of which gear is selected in the eight-speed automatic transmission, you’re never a twitch of the big toe away from steam-engine-like linear progress.
The rudder, too, seems to shrink the Gran Coupé back to its original Coupé proportions, with a deftness of feel and instantaneous reaction that belittles the car’s 1,825kg heft. Position your side mirrors to show a glimpse of the rear door handles, just in case you forget that you’re in a saloon. Even if it’s 90kg heavier than the two-door tin-top 6er, the Gran Coupé is a pathological liar, going around trying to convince everyone it’s actually an out-and-out sportscar. Lie long enough, and you’ll start to believe it. I do.
The Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console allows you to tap into the electronics, messing with throttle response, engine response, power steering characteristics, the DSC settings, damper stiffness, and shift characteristics of the ’box. There’s an economical mode that saves you kilometres, and displays how many klicks you’re adding to the range of your fuel tank with thrifty driving. But in the sportiest setting the Gran Coupé seems to hunker down and attack apexes like an RC car. Hang on a tick, while I double-check the dimensions and weight of this thing — it can’t be right…
Life inside the 6er doesn’t have to be a compromise either, because BMW sticks with the driver-orientated cockpit up front, just like in the two-door, and adds a pair of sunken seats in the back. Standard equipment includes BMW Park Assistant, camera-based collision warning with braking function, active cruise control, and full colour head-up display. Optionally, you can spec kit such as active seats, seat ventilation, ceramic applications like inside our test car, four-zone automatic climate control, and a Bang & Olufsen surround sound system.
Oh, and before you ask, there is no manual version.
- Model 640i Gran Coupé
- Engine 3.0-litre inline-six turbo
- Transmission Eight-speed auto, RWD
- Max power 320bhp @ 5,800rpm
- Max torque 450Nm @ 1,300rpm
- Top speed 250kph
- PriceDh425,000 (as tested)