2012 BMW 640i Gran Coupe
– Exterior styling
– Cabin trim and features
– Entertaining handler
– Pricey with options
– Lacks rear headroom
– Ride borders on harsh
The BMW 640i Gran Coupe is the Bavarian carmaker’s first foray into the world of “four-door coupes”, a niche started by Mercedes-Benz marketeers and nicely expanded by several other German marques. As daft as that is, the Gran Coupe is actually somewhat different from existing cars in BMW’s line-up.
You could either call it a four-door 6-Series or a squished 5-Series, both of which would be correct because they share the same chassis and offer similar drivetrains. The Gran Coupe is a good-looking car, no doubt. This test car even has the “M Sport” body kit, which adds more aggressive bumpers. Our expensive “Individual” trim even adds matte-bronze paint which gives it a real customised feel, but would be hell to maintain because you cannot wax or wash it in traditional ways.
The interior is all random swoopy shapes, made attractive by “Individual” touches such as two-tone brown and white stitched-leather surfaces everywhere from the dash to the seats, and all along the doors. The harder bits that we initially thought was stained white plastic actually turned out to be white-varnished real wood on closer look, while the headliner is brown alcantara. All in all, a beautiful look that’s going to be hell to take care of, just like the exterior. Every time you drive it, you’ll leave a mark somewhere.
It’s safe to say that no one is going to confuse this car with a 5-Series because, aside from the fact that almost nothing visually is shared between the two, the Gran Coupe is a whole lot more cramped in the back. The two rear buckets will seat only average-sized people without touching the headliner, and while BMW keeps insisting that the middle seat can seat a person, they think everyone will be blind to the fact that the centre-console extends all the way from the front and touches the rear seat! Otherwise legroom for four passengers is generous all-round, while up front the headroom is fine. The boot is also of a decent size, for a coupe, but don’t expect to stuff more than a single suitcase in there. There are four covered cup-holders, a central cubby, and shallow door pockets for knick-knacks.
The tech features are as abundant as in any top-spec BMW, including the rotary-dial multimedia computer, somewhat-complicated navigation, power front seats, heads-up display, HID headlights, decent four-zone a/c, smart keyless start, adaptive cruise control, parking cameras and sensors, lots of airbags, a panoramic glass roof that doesn’t open, and even electric sun-blinds on the rear frameless doors.
The 640i is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-6 making 320 hp at 5800 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 1300 rpm, simply a higher-tuned version of the motor in the 335i. However, this 640i was slower than the 335i we tested earlier, as we clocked a 0-100 kph time of 6.8 seconds. We’ll put that down to its pudgy 1825 kg weight. With a smooth paddle-shiftable 8-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels, we saw fuel consumption of 14.1 litres/100 km on average, a bit on the high side for a turbo six.
The 6-Series offers neutral handling and negligible body roll when hustled around corners, making it easy to transition from understeer to oversteer at the dab of the throttle pedal. The balanced chassis can pull off mild drifts all day long in “Sport Plus” mode, which loosens up the stability control just enough to be fun. The adaptive-ratio electric steering is nicely weighted, but offers limited feel. In fast grip-driving, the rear always seems to “rotate” around on curves, although it could be the four-wheel-steering system at play here, which turns the rear wheels a wee bit in the direction of the front wheels to aid stability.
That agility comes at the cost of comfort. Even with adjustable suspension, the Gran Coupe rides way too firmly for a “luxury” car, not helped at all by 20-inch alloys on low-profile rubbers, 245/35 up front and 275/30 at the rear. It is quiet up to 100 kph, but beyond that, those wide run-flat tyres grind up very noticeable road noise. Throw in the rearward visibility issues, and the drive is no different than the 6-Series Coupe, just with two extra doors.
The pricey BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe is a very nice car, no arguments about that, but it is flawed in certain fundamental ways. Similar “four-door coupes” from Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen don’t suffer from the harsh ride and cramped rear quarters as much as this BMW does, so you’d really have to think twice when picking between this and the regular 6-Series coupe, or even the 5-Series. But as a styling exercise, it is as successful as its sharp driving dynamics.
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