In recent years BMW designers have come under fire with their creations being called anything from “dull” and “unimaginative” to considerably worse than that. The reason? The conservation approach to designing BMW cars which now share too many traits with each other. And while some cars definitely do share a lot of their character lines with each other across different segments, there are some that break the norm in such a beautiful way that one can’t help to simply yearn to own one.
The beauty queen of the range these days is, without a doubt, the oldest model the Germans are still manufacturing – the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, one of the three models in the 6 Series range you can still get today. In little to no time, this number will drop to one, as the 6 Series Convertible and the four-door coupe will be dropped from production. And while the drop top definitely has the looks as well, my personal choice tips towards the Gran Coupe when it comes to stunning beauty and elegance.
The 6 Series Gran Coupe has been in production since 2012 and it was BMW’s response to the popular Mercedes-Benz CLS, part of a new generation of cars deemed by their manufacturers to be “four-door coupes”. That nomenclature started some heated discussions from the get go but you can only understand what BMW meant if you drive and own this car, because in all truth, it really is a four-door coupe and not a sedan, for a number of reasons.
From the sloping roofline to the frameless windows and the overall look of the four-door coupe, you can immediately tell that this is not a sedan by any conventional means of measuring. Furthermore, just like a traditional Coupe, even though this one has four doors instead of two, it is considerably harder to live with it than with a conventional sedan. Getting in the back is a bit tricky due to the small opening, high wheel wells which cut into high into the rear bench and the low roof. Furthermore, there isn’t an abundance of space in there even though compared to the Coupe, the Gran Coupe does have 113 millimeters more in between its axles. Sure, there is more knee room and head room but you still get a bit of a claustrophobic feeling inside. A big part in this is played by the extra small windows and high door panels which are also concave and protrude into the cabin space quite a lot, especially at the top.
All those factors also alter the way you feel behind the wheel. The turning radius of the 6 Series Gran Coupe isn’t the best in the world and the car is rather long at 5 meters in length, just shy of the 7 Series, which leads to rather tricky situations around town, especially in Europe’s older, narrower streets. Chip in the Individual 20” wheels our tester was fitted with and you’d start to worry about potholes and tight parking spaces. The small side windows and narrow rear window made it even more interesting to navigate and prompted me to wholeheartedly recommend the Surround View camera system, as it will help you out a lot more than just the rear-view camera our tester came with.
As you can probably tell, I started out by listing the worst things about this car and the picture may seem bleak right now, but in reality, this is probably the car I want the most in the BMW range, despite all the drawbacks.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
From the moment you are summoned in front of it, you experience what I like to call “instant attraction”. As I mentioned earlier, this is the best-looking car BMW is making today and there are a couple of reasons why I think so.
First of all, it doesn’t look like anything else around. The facelifted 6 Series Gran Coupe got subtly restyled headlamps and a sharper kidney grille and while they may not seem like much, they do make a big difference in the way this car is perceived. Then sharp nose is something that will soon be gone and we can definitely blame pedestrian protection rules for that, as various regulations force manufacturers to adopt different shapes. The long hood then meets a low-slung window and the generous, long shapes that define that exterior of the Gran Coupe continue with the roof and the contour of the boot lid. Looking at it from the side in the dark and just observing a low source of light hitting it, one would be hard pressed to figure out whether it’s a conventional Coupe or a four-door one.
Then there are the details which set this car apart. From the frameless windows to the creases on the sides of the car, the long door sills with sharp edges and the beautiful 20” Individual bi-color bespoke wheels we had on our car, this thing is breathtaking. We were also lucky enough to have it dressed up in Sonic Blue Metallic, a rare color that sits right between the Le Mans and Estoril Blue. It’s truly a sight to behold and it gets even better once you step inside.
Yes, the windows are on the smaller side of things but that’s not of importance because you’ll be more interested in everything else that awaits for you inside. The 6 Series Gran Coupe is still wearing the design created for it when it was launched in 2012, as the LCI changed almost nothing in the cabin. The layered dash and the tall center console create a comfy atmosphere inside, while the seats wrap around you offering a perfect mix between comfort and support. The contrast stitching going all around the cabin also emphasizes the shapes all around you and while I’m not a big fan of carbon fiber trims being used inside cars, in this particular setting they seemed to fit right at home.
The M Sport steering wheel is still the best in the business in my opinion and the digital instrument cluster in front of you is starting to show its age, as its graphics are working at a lower resolution than in the most recent models, like the G11 7 Series or the G30 5 Series.
In the back, the sloping roofline does cut in the available headroom but you won’t care the moment you see the individual leather rear seats. They too are comfortable and I’d dare say even softer than they seem at a first glance. Sure, getting in and out might be a bit tricky as the car sits really low but once you’re in any of the seats available, you feel as if you’re glued to the road and then the fun can begin.
The 6 Series Gran Coupe engine range is basically made up of three units, combined with xDrive all-wheel drive for a grand total of six model choices. Then there’s the M6 Gran Coupe which will most likely become a cult car in a few years, but that’s on a whole new level. Our tester was the more efficient 640d xDrive model, fitted with an older generation N57 3-liter straight six twin-turbo diesel engine that delivers immense amounts of torque from nearly idle. The 313 HP and 630 Nm (465 lb-ft) of torque make sure this near 2-ton car reaches 62 mph in 5.2 seconds which is fast enough for your daily needs. All out on the highway it will also reach a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) which is, of course, electronically limited, but reached in rapid fashion.
The technical platform underneath that sexy body of the 6 Series Gran Coupe shares a lot of its underpinnings with the retired F10 5 Series which means it’s more than capable of keeping you on your toes. Up front we have a double wishbone suspension while dealing with a multi-link rear setup and, in our configuration, all the suspension altering tricks in the book, from Dynamic Damper Control to Adaptive Drive and Integral Active Steering. This means we had active anti-roll bars at our disposal for turning things up to 11 and the Comfort+ driving mode for cruising around. Considering we were rolling on 20” wheels, the Comfort+ mode meant we could enjoy even less than perfect roads with ease and the Gran Coupe definitely knows how to handle its weight.
Push things up to 10 and, even though we were dealing with a diesel engine here, you end up in a world of fun. The steering feels neutral all the time and while you’d expect the car to oversteer in typical BMW fashion, the xDrive system and the rear-steering made this 2-ton Gran Coupe feel nimble in fast corners and right at home in tight turns. To be honest, it was a bit of a paradox as it did feel more fluid than the two-door Coupe model and more fun than the lighter 5 Series. It was most likely a combination between the lower center of gravity of the 6er and the wider hips which made the 5er feel a bit out of its league here.
In Sport and Sport+ the steering does feel a bit too heavy and it’s a good thing that BMW allows you to tune the different driving modes according to your needs, so that you can get the most out of the car. The ride is definitely stiffened up when entering the most hardcore driving modes and you can feel it even though you’re wrapped in some of the most comfortable seats around. Speaking of which, in order to keep in tune with the Coupe theme, even though the Gran Coupe has a B-Pillar, the seats for the front seats are embedded in them, just like they are on the 6 Series Convertible, for example, a rather nice touch, to be honest.
That and everything else about this car, from the way it looks to the way it drives when you push it, makes you simply yearn for it and saying goodbye to this beauty definitely wasn’t easy. It won’t be easy for all BMW fans either when it goes out of production altogether this year, to be replaced by an even more luxurious and possibly better looking 8 Series Gran Coupe which is said to be planned for the near future by the high-wigs in Munich.
You see, there are definitely some rather evident drawbacks coming with this beautiful shape but then again, you mustn’t consider the 6 Series Gran Coupe as the least practical car out there. As a matter of fact, you have decent room in the back for two people and the boot measures a generous 459 liters (16.2 cubic ft) which will allow you to get more than enough luggage for a longer trip around Europe. At the same time, coming with the 3-liter N57 engine I mentioned earlier, even though the car is pretty heavy, it’s not the thirsty beast you’d imagine. Around town fuel consumption figures hovered around 10 l/100 km (23.5 mpg) while outside the city limits we saw them drop to around 7.5 l/100 km (31.3 mpg) which is more than decent everything considered.
In the end, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, no matter the engine choice is somewhat of a “trophy wife”, as politically incorrect this may sound. It’s not necessarily the best when it comes to being the breadwinner of the home but then again, you simply yearn for it and others do too, whenever they see it. It’s the most beautiful car you’ll see in the parking lot and that comes with a certain feeling of pride when you press the unlock button on your key fob and start heading its way knowing that people in the vicinity will be looking at you with some level of envy, but only you know the kind of headaches that come with it.
Is it worth the trouble? That’s a tricky answer to give and it will definitely depend on what’s most important to you.
In recent years BMW designers have come under fire with their creations being called anything from “dull” and “unimaginative” to considerably worse than that. The reason? The conservation approach to designing BMW cars which now share too many traits with each other. And while some cars definitely do share a lot of their character lines with each other across different segments, there are some that break the norm in such a beautiful way that one can’t help to simply yearn to own one. The beauty queen of the range these days is, without a doubt, the oldest model the Germans…
TEST DRIVE: 2018 BMW 640d xDrive Gran Coupe
TEST DRIVE: 2018 BMW 640d xDrive Gran Coupe