Thumbs Up: A real head turner; as stylish a car as BMW builds.
Thumbs Down: Rear leg room lacking, options quickly escalate price.
Buy This Car If: Your bank account allows this big of a fashion statement.
In a perfect world, all coupes would have two doors and all sedans would have four. If nothing else, this would allow those of us who write about cars for a living to keep things simple when we describe new vehicles. We don’t live in a perfect world, though, and the hottest segment in the luxury car world these days appears to be the four-door coupe. Mercedes has its CLS550, Porsche has its Panamera, Audi has its A7, and as of the 2013 model year, BMW now has its 6 Series Gran Coupe, available in 640i, 650i and 650i xDrive variants.
Oddly enough, the 640i is based on the current 5 Series sedan, not the 6 Series coupe. Blame it on platform dimensions, but the net result is a car that’s better-looking than the 5 Series sedan, with none of the rear-seat trade-offs associated with the 6 Series coupes. If you’ve always wanted a BMW coupe, yet you need the passenger-hauling capabilities of a sedan, this may be the car you’ve been waiting for.
Though there’s a strong resemblance between the 6 Series Coupe and the 6 Series Gran Coupe, the two aren’t identical. The Gran Coupe gets a front fascia that’s shaped just a bit differently, though even those passionate about the brand would be hard-pressed to identify a Coupe versus a Gran Coupe from a frontal view alone.
From the rear, however, the Gran Coupe is easily distinguished by its plunging roofline and narrower daylight opening, which make the Gran Coupe appear lower in height and wider in track than the coupe. Both are optical illusions, since the Gran Coupe is the same width as the Coupe and nearly an inch taller.
Even the profile view is similar between Coupe and Gran Coupe, but the four-door variant gets a larger glass area for the rear seat passengers. The C-pillar shape is revised as well, with the Gran Coupe getting a less pronounced Hofmeister kink than the standard coupe. Brightwork around the daylight opening is narrower on the Gran Coupe, likely to minimize the size of the car’s daylight opening.
Proportionally, even the size of the front and rear overhangs are similar between the two cars, and the net result is that the BMW Gran Coupe may be the most “coupe-like” of all the available choices on the market today. It’s a visually stunning car that will stand out from the rest of the luxury herd, likely for years to come.
Inside, that same emphasis on design carries over. Our press fleet 640i Gran Coupe may be a bit of an extreme example, given its Opal White and Brown Amaro leather-trimmed dash and interior, accented in White Ash Grain wood trim. While that wouldn’t be our first choice of color combinations, it clearly demonstrates that BMW is thinking outside the black-leather-with-burl-walnut luxury box, especially for customers who check the “BMW Individual Composition” option box.
Color choice aside, the dash is stylish and well-executed, with a large navigation and infotainment screen positioned just to the right of the instruments, atop the center stack. We appreciate the easily accessed HVAC controls and radio presets, and we can’t help but marvel on how intuitive BMW’s iDrive system has become, especially compared to others on the market. Attention to detail abounds here, and the 640i Gran Coupe can easily hold its own agains cars costing substantially more money.
Instruments are a functional and attractive blend of analog gauges and LCD displays. The speedometer, for example, also includes an LCD readout of average fuel economy and distance to empty, while the tachometer also shows real-time fuel economy and if the vehicle battery is being regeneratively charged as part of BMW’s “Efficient Dynamics” system.
Front seats are as good as you’d expect them to be in a car of this caliber. Infinitely adjustable, the seats ensure that drivers of all shapes and sizes will be able to get comfortable in the 640i Gran Coupe’s front row. While all models get heated front seats, the Luxury Seating Package (included on our BMW-supplied tester) also includes ventilated multi-contour front seats. They’re “Active Seats,” too, which means that the left and right halves occasionally raise or lower gently to reduce fatigue.
Rear seat occupants aren’t likely to complain, either, unless they’re long of leg. While the 640i Gran Coupe is far roomier on the inside than the 6 Series Coupe, it’s no stretch limousine. Entry requires ducking your head to clear the plunging roofline, but once inside, the second row isn’t a bad place to spend time. The Luxury Seating Package gives rear-seaters a power rear sunshade, manual side sunshades and separate climate controls. In addition, the rear bucket-like seats are equally comfortable for a drive across town or an excursion across country, something that can’t be said for many vehicles on the market today.
Power for 640i Gran Coupe models comes from a twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder engine, rated at 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque and mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Despite the Gran Coupe’s 4,200 pound weight, that’s still enough grunt to get the car from 0 – 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, while returning 20 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving. In mixed city and highway driving, we saw an indicated 22.6 mpg, but clearly could have done better had we spent more time in Eco Pro mode and less time in Sport mode.
Underway, the 640i Gran Coupe delivers a blend of reasonable acceleration and predictable handling. It’s a big car to throw around, but there’s very little body roll in corners, thanks to the optional Adaptive Drive system that includes active roll stabilization anti-roll bars. The steering is nicely weighted, too, delivering a surprising amount of feedback for a car with more of an emphasis on grand touring than on sport. The optional Integral Active Steering provides up to 2.5-degrees of rear-wheel steering during low-speed cornering, giving the car a truly surprising turing radius. Even the brakes take their role seriously, and were more than up to the task of scrubbing off speed at any velocity we were able to attain.
If we had any complaint about the car’s road manners, it would be the harsh ride delivered by the optional 20-inch wheels and ultra-low profile tires, which seem out of place on a car that leans more towards luxury than sport. Even the Dynamic Damping Control shocks (part of the Adaptive Drive package) couldn’t smooth out the bumps transmitted by the tires’ narrow sidewalls, and those with expectations of a plush ride would be well advised to stick with the stock 18-inch or optional 19-inch wheels.
BMW supplied the 640i Gran Coupe for our review. Base price was $76,895, including an $895 destination charge, and options included the $3,500 Frozen Bronze Metallic Paint, the $3,700 Driver Assistance Package (lane departure warning, blind spot detection, side and top-view cameras, parking assistant, head-up display), the $8,300 BMW Individual Composition Package (unique door sills, Alcantara headliner, White Ash Grain wood trim, LED lighting, cornering lights, Opal White / Amaro Brown Full Merino leather interior, 19-inch wheels), the $1,300 20-inch wheel upgrade (available only with the Individual Composition Package), the $3,600 Luxury Seating Package (power rear sunshade, rear sunshades, front ventilated seats, active front seats, multi-contour seats, four-zone climate control), the $950 Premium Sound Package (Bang & Olufsen audio), the $2,500 Adaptive Drive, the $1,750 Integral Active Steering, the $500 Heated Front Seats, the $650 Ceramic Controls, the $250 BMW Apps and the $800 Wood Inlay Steering Wheel for a total sticker price of $104,695.
For comparison, a similar Mercedes-Benz CLS550 (which makes another 87 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque) would sticker for $91,015, while a comparably equipped Audi A7 (with quattro AWD) would sticker at $80,510.
Why the big gap in price compared to the competition? Just take a look at the option list; the Frozen Bronze paint adds $3,500, the BMW Individual Composition Package with 20-inch wheels adds $9,600 and the Integral Active Steering adds $1,750. Delete these options, unavailable on rival four-door coupes, and the sticker price would work out to be $89,845.