What is it?
Mercedes-Benz was the first to do it with the genre-defining CLS. Audi followed with the A7. And now BMW, after sizing up what has developed into an important market niche, has delivered a stylish saloon and proceeded to call it a coupé. The new Gran Coupé is the third and final member of its latest 6-series line-up. It aims to offer the inherent practicality of a traditional four-door together with the style of the existing two-door 6-series coupé and cabriolet.
The team of design boss Adrian van Hooydonk has, to these eyes at least, delivered one of BMW’s best-looking models in years. The proportions are spot on, giving the 6-series Gran Coupé a truly elegant appearance that is sure to find wide appeal, and not only from existing BMW customers.
Based on a unique rear-wheel drive platform, its wheelbase is 113mm longer than that of the 6-series coupé and convertible, freeing up space for two extra doors and a proper rear seat. Like the CLS, it has a traditional notchback-style boot for added structural rigidity, eschewing the liftback arrangement of the A7.
What’s it like?
Inside, there is the sweeping dashboard from the two-door 6-series, along with an altered centre console. It’s all very high on perceived quality, although certain ergonomic aspects – namely, the positioning of the gearlever and other switchgear, including the iDrive controller – have been compromised by the inclusion of two large cupholders.
Up front, you sit low on broad and supportive seats equipped with integral seatbelts. Entry to the rear is impeded by small door apertures and the trailing edge of the frameless window, which extends well out from the door itself. With the front seats set to their lowest position, there is precious little foot room in the rear, although in other respects the rear bench is quite roomy. But despite the inclusion of a centre rear seatbelt, the extension of the centre console all the way back to the rear bench means that the 6-series Gran Coupé can only be considered as an occasional five-seater. Despite offering a generous 460 litres of luggage space, the boot is also compromised by a small aperture and high load lip.
Initially, there will be a choice of two in-line sixes: the latest evolution of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine producing 316bhp and 332lb ft in the 640i Gran Coupé, and the gutsy turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel with 309bhp and 464lb ft in the 640d Gran Coupé driven here.
The diesel is perfectly suited to the BMW’s sporting brief. It has huge low-end shove, a terrifically flexible nature, highly refined part-throttle cruising qualities, an alluring full-throttle exhaust note and, for a diesel, a sufficiently eager top end to make it fun to work hard.
Doing justice to the 640d Gran Coupé’s superb engine is its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is smooth and quick to react, both in automatic and manual modes. Equipped with stop-start, brake energy recuperation and extra-long gearing, it is integral in providing the new 1790kg saloon with exceptional combined economy of 50.5mpg. With 0-62mph in 5.4sec and a standing kilometre time of 24.7sec, it doesn’t lack for outright pace, either.
What really sets the 6-series Gran Coupé apart, though, are its highly polished dynamic traits. There is an engaging fluidity to the handling that allows it to rise above the already highly competent 5-series for outright driver appeal. The steering is well weighted and quite direct. The chassis, meanwhile, possesses wonderful balance, which gives it tremendously eager cornering and a neutral on-the-limit character. With no fewer than five different driving modes offered by BMW’s driving experience function, the new saloon can be set up for a wide range of conditions and driving styles.