We drive gorgeous new BMW four-door coupé
It seems an age since Mercedes-Benz wowed the world with its first CLS 'four-door coupé' and finally we have BMW's answer, the 6 Series Gran Coupé. The ingredients suggest it'll be a car that looks like the 6 Series with the dynamics of the 5 Series - and nearly as much space.
When: May 2012
Where: Sicily, Italy
What: 2012 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé
Occasion: International first drive
Overall rating: 4.5/5
It seems an age since Mercedes-Benz wowed the world with its first CLS 'four-door coupé' and finally we have BMW's answer, the 6 Series Gran Coupé. The ingredients suggest it'll be a car that looks like the 6 Series with the dynamics of the 5 Series - and nearly as much space. It turns out to be rather more special than that. Here's the likely best-seller, the 640d.
Model driven: BMW 640d Gran Coupé
Pricing: €97,960 on-the-road
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door 'coupé'
Rivals: Audi A7 Sportback, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Porsche Panamera
CO2 emissions: 148g/km (Band C, €330 per annum)
Combined economy: 5.6 litres/100km (50.4mpg)
Top speed: 250km/h (electronically limited)
0-100km/h: 5.4 seconds
Power: 313hp at 4,400rpm
Torque: 630Nm at 1,500 - to 2,500rpm
In the Metal: 5/5
While Audi, Mercedes and Porsche started from a blank sheet of paper to style their four-door coupés, BMW went down the potentially risky route of taking its existing 6 Series shape and stretching it. It's a resounding success though, maintaining the original car's distinctively sharp detailing and adding elegance to the mix. There are several unique elements to the Gran Coupé, including badging in the 'Hofmeister kink' and a full-width brake light at the trailing edge of the roof.
All the extra length (113mm of the stuff) is in the wheelbase, to accommodate the extra back doors and allow rear occupants decent legroom. The doors themselves are frameless, adding to the occasion. At first glance it looks like there's room for just two passengers in the back, but there is in fact a third seat belt for someone to sit on the raised centre section - for short journeys only we'd suggest. The rear is not as spacious as that of say a 5 Series saloon, but the seats are comfortable - and the car feels special to sit in. The seat backs fold down too, revealing a 460-litre boot - same as that in the regular Coupé.
Driving it: 4/5
Surprisingly, the Gran Coupé feels remarkably different on the road to both the 6 Series Coupé and the BMW 5 Series. The long, low stance sets it apart, and that's emphasised by the low-set driving position. There's plenty of adjustment in the seat and wheel if you prefer to sit a little higher.
All test cars on the launch were fitted with the optional Adaptive Drive system, which includes Variable Damper Control and Dynamic Drive. The latter is a sophisticated active anti-roll system. The settings for these, plus those for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, throttle map and stability control, are all grouped into various modes, selectable via the Drive Performance Control switch on the centre console. There's a striking difference between Comfort+ and Sport+, where the Gran Coupé changes from being a smooth-riding cruiser to a harder edged proposition that's more engaging to drive - if no out-and-out sports car.
BMW also fitted Integral Active Steering to our test cars, which aids steering at the front, but also steers the rear. With all these systems the Gran Coupé was highly impressive. It's as comfortable as the softest BMW in the range when you want it to be, but at the touch of a button it's keen to pick up the pace. The extra length between the wheels really enhances stability, though it feels like too big a car to be throwing around with aplomb - regardless of how competent it is.
The twin-turbocharged diesel engine will be the pick of the range in Ireland and it's as special as ever. It marries a willing top end, where 313hp is produced, to an unending wall of torque, which 'peaks' at 630Nm between 1,500- and 2,500rpm. The 640i model may be as quick to 100km/h, but I'd wager that the diesel model leaves that car behind soon after and it's effortlessly quick at all times. As an added bonus it sounds great, with a really meaty note audible inside the cabin.
What you get for your Money: 3/5
BMW will offer the Gran Coupé in SE and M Sport grades. The 640i and 640d ride on 18-inch alloys, while the forthcoming V8-engined 650i features 19-inch rims. All versions get Dakota leather, satnav with a 10.2-inch display, parking sensors all-round, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, electric adjustment for the steering wheel and heated seats.
Buyers of the M Sport models additionally get sports seats and 'Aluminium Hexagon' interior trim, along with a distinctive exterior makeover, including 19-inch alloys.
Prices start at €97,960 for the 640d SE Gran Coupé as tested and rise to €132,370 for the 650i M Sport. That represents a premium of about €3,600 over the regular two-door coupé for the '640' models. M Sport versions of the 640i and 640d cost over €7,000 more.
BMW gave us data comparing each of the Gran Coupé models with rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and it makes for interesting reading. In 640d guise, the BMW blitzes the Mercedes CLS 350 CDI and Panamera Diesel, not only in terms of power and torque outputs (and hence performance), but also in terms of efficiency. However, it sits far above the Merc on price, and even the Porsche is a little cheaper.
A third car worth mentioning is the equally svelte Audi A7 Sportback. It too has a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel option, with an identical 313hp output. It produces 650Nm of torque and is just as quick as the 6 Series. It also has quattro four-wheel drive as standard, yet it's priced at a seemingly bargain €78,790.
We went to the launch of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé expecting to drive a car much like the two-door version with perhaps a little more comfort. We were pleasantly surprised to find a model that is remarkably unique; not only in how it tackles a road, but in how it looks. It's the most desirable 6 Series on sale - and well worth the premium.