Any expanding company is likely to launch at least a couple of slow-selling product ‘flops’ for every successful model introduction – even with the most thorough, expert designers and market researchers on the payroll.

It’s an unavoidable consequence of growth, you might say. And BMW has certainly been growing quickly enough these past 20 years to have perpetrated the odd dud in among its glitteringly successful product triumphs.

Very few car-industry watchers – living in Europe, at least – would argue that the 5 Series Gran Turismo ought to be spared criticism on that front.

This awkward-looking jacked-up executive hatchback has singularly failed to hit its sales targets everywhere apart from in China, where buyers responded more positively to its blend of luxury, convenience and value than anywhere else on the planet.

This was a car launched in 2009, before either of Audi’s A7 or A5 Sportback siblings, before the original Porsche Panamera and before Mercedes-Benz’s CLS Shooting Brake.

Its genesis therefore came before consensus had formed about the most viable way to combine style and space in an alternative to a modern executive saloon. And to look at one today, wouldn’t you know it?

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You might imagine BMW could ill-afford to directly replace a car like that – and yet, encouraged by the warmer reception enjoyed by its current 3 Series Gran Turismo, that’s more or less what it is doing.

The 6 Series Gran Turismo is a slightly lower, longer, roomier, better-looking and better-appointed attempt at precisely the same vehicle concept as the 5 Series GT, the change in identity from ‘5’ to ‘6’ intended to more accurately define the car within the wider BMW range.

And with the old 6 Series Coupé and Convertible set to be replaced by de-facto equivalents in the bigger 8 Series family, this will be the only 6 Series you can buy before too long.

The particulars and nuances of its mission, compared with luxury executive rivals and BMW’s large and medium-sized in-house alternatives, are what we’re here to explore. 

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