Stylish Gran Coupe a sure-fire winner for BMW
This might be a controversial view, but I don't think BMW is a great innovator when it comes to model development.
It is a fiendishly smart company in the field of engineering but it is rarely first to the punch when it comes to cars that break new ground.
What BMW most certainly represents is a great finisher. Although it might take some time to enter the fray, when it does it often delivers a knock-out punch. It might well argue that who arrives first in the ring is irrelevant, it is who is left standing at the end that counts.
Such is the case with the 6 Series Gran Coupe. Cynics might scoff that BMW is only now attempting to copy something Mercedes-Benz came up with in 2005 with its CLS, namely a premium four-door coupe, and they would have a point. But BMW looks to be onto a sure-fire winner with the Gran Coupe. The 640d variant is probably the one most UK buyers will want.
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Performance is very strong – the 313PS 640d will get to 62mph from rest in 5.4 seconds and like every variant in the range, is artificially limited to a 155mph maximum.
That means an identical set of speed stats to those you would get in the petrol 3.0-litre V6 variant – but a rather different driving experience.
In the petrol 640i, you are often tempted to take control of the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission yourself, setting the thing into manual mode and using the steering wheel-mounted paddles to try to wring the most performance out of it. Here in the diesel, there is so much torque available that you will mostly end up leaving the gearbox to its own devices.
That is assuming you are not tempted to play with what BMW calls "drive performance control". It's a switchable system that, depending on your mood, allows you to vary the responsiveness of the gearbox, the steering, the throttle and the level of assistance provided by the dynamic stability control set-up.
BMW is not winning any pioneer awards for the 6 Series Gran Coupe. Mercedes-Benz was there with the CLS and Audi muscled in with the A7 Sportback. Both are good looking designs but of all the people I canvassed, all identified the BMW as the best-looking car.
Six was possibly not a statistically representative sample size, but all agreed that this styling job was one of the most accomplished of any modern BMW.
It is wonderfully proportioned, long and elegant without appearing lugubrious or bulky. At more than five metres long, it features intricate detailing and surfacing which never appears fussy or contrived.
You will find real usable space in the back seats, albeit for two only. The 4+1 seating arrangement can accommodate a third rear passenger but the centre seatback is hard and narrow and the bulky transmission tunnel provides nowhere to put your feet.
The boot has a volume of 460-litres, which can be expanded up to 1,265-litres thanks to the through-loading system and folding rear seatbacks.
You'll need a budget of around £64,000 for this 640d. Add around £4,500 to that if you want the M Sport package with its aesthetic upgrades.
It is hard to know where the pick of the range is, but if pressed, I would plump for this 640d model. It is a car where you will not feel guilty about using its performance and with more torque than a BMW M5 under its right pedal, it will prove an overtaking weapon of rare brilliance. BMW might have arrived at the four-door coupe party fashionably late, but the wait's been worth it.