2013 BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe

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2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe: Review

By Marc Lachapelle of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.4

Bottom Line:

The sleek and stylish Gran Coupe takes all of the key 6-Series attributes and makes them attractive to a wider range of buyers by adding two doors and bestowing it with proper rear seating.
Pros:
  • Classy, stylish looks
  • First-class cabin
  • Sharp handling
Cons:
  • Detached steering feel
  • Harsh ride over cracks
  • Small mirrors and rear glass

When late to a party, you should always dress sharply to make a big impression. This informal rule certainly holds true for the luxury car market, and even more so in the exclusive niche of sleek and sexy 4-door coupes that was pioneered by Mercedes-Benz with its CLS-Class models. The newest face and figure in this crowd is BMW's 6-Series Gran Coupe, which challenges not only the latest CLS variants but other strong entries such as the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera.

Built on a stretched iteration of the 6-Series platform that was fully revamped for 2012, the Gran Coupe is offered in three versions for its first year. First came the 640i, powered by a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine. It was soon followed by the twin-turbo V8 650i and the all-wheel-drive 650i xDrive.

Model lineup
The new Gran Coupe shares its basic architecture and major components with the 6-Series coupe, with an additional 4.4 inches in overall body length on a wheelbase that has grown 4.5 inches. These gains have turned the coupe's abbreviated rear perches into proper seats that can now truly accommodate adults. BMW describes its new Gran Coupe as a "4 plus 1" and readily concedes that the center spot is for short jaunts and the smallest of passengers.

By comparison, the 640i Gran Coupe is 4.1 inches longer, 1.4 inches wider and 2.8 inches lower than a BMW 535i sedan, with their wheelbases identical at 116.9 inches. The newcomer is also about 100 pounds heavier and almost double that when compared with its 6-Series coupe sibling.

The Gran Coupe looks quite familiar. The lineage is unmistakable, with a wide double-kidney grille and a vestigial hump on the rear decklid that is pure 6-Series. Cargo volume is 13 cubic feet, a single unit less than in the 5-Series sedan. The rear doors are skillfully integrated and the overall look is elegant and graceful.

A standard Driving Dynamics Control system lets you choose between Comfort, Comfort +, Sport, Sport + and Eco Pro modes at the flick of a rocker switch on the center console. Adjustable parameters include throttle response, steering assist, suspension response and auto transmission shift points. The Eco Pro mode is said to potentially reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent, but it also makes the 640i feel rather lethargic in normal driving.

Already sybaritic in every respect, the Gran Coupe's equipment and trim can nonetheless be enhanced greatly with various optional packages and standalone features. The $4,200 M Sport package accentuates traditional BMW sporting allure with more sculpted fascias and sills, black chrome tips for the sports exhaust and black-painted calipers for the quartet of disc brakes. Interior upgrades include a Motorsport steering wheel and dark grey Alcantara headliner. Top speed is also increased by tweaks to the electronic limiter. A full set of 20-inch, double-spoke alloy wheels with run-flat performance tires is and additional $1,300.

The Individual treatment ($8,300) comprises 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights and very special colors and trims for the cabin. The LED headlights are available as a standalone option, while adaptive xenon headlights are standard fare on the Gran Coupe.

Under the hood
The 640i Gran Coupe is powered by a new version of BMW's award-winning 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine. Now force-fed by a twin-scroll turbocharger, it delivers 315 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque from as low as 1300 rpm. The Gran Coupe possesses enough grunt to reach 60 mph in a claimed 5.4 seconds, yet delivers estimated fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway/24 mpg combined.

The 640i carries a new 8-speed automatic gearbox designed and built by German specialist ZF. It comes standard on all Gran Coupe versions and delivers smooth and precise upshifts. Steering-mounted paddles produce downshifts as crisp as dual-clutch units, made even sharper in Sport or Sport + mode, with ever more precise rev-matching.

The upcoming 650i Gran Coupes get an upgraded twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that generates 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. The rear-drive 650i should reel off zero-to-60-mph sprints in 4.5 seconds, and the all-wheel-drive 650i xDrive should be quicker still, at just 4.3 seconds.

Inner space
Elegant as it is, the new Gran Coupe is even ritzier once you slide in -- possibly a tad too much in the case of the striking two-tone leather that can be ordered with the Individual package. The look, feel and quality of all materials are top-notch, and the seats are comfy and abundantly supportive.

A standard 10.2-inch display shows the navigation system's images in 3-D. The controversial iDrive control interface, tweaked again, lets you navigate scattered menus and commands a bit easier. The configurable, multimode, multicolor head-up display that is included with the optional Driver Assistance package ($3,700) is superb. It comes with lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection systems, side- and top-view cameras and front and rear parking assist.

A cold weather package ($1,000) adds heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel (wood inlay an $800 extra) and a ski bag. The luxury seating package ($3,600) gets you 4-zone climate control; active, ventilated and multicontour front seats; a power rear sunshade; and manual rear side window shades. Standout options include a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with satellite radio for another $3,700.

On the road
Suspension components are made of aluminum and electronically adjustable shock absorbers are standard. In addition, the Gran Coupe can be equipped with an active roll-stabilization system ($2,500) that uses hydraulic actuators connected to the front and rear anti-roll bars for a flat cornering stance.

Another available option is the latest version of BMW's active steering system ($1,750), which works in conjunction with rear suspension components that can steer a few degrees. Both are additions to a rich assemblage of electronically controlled systems that optimize handling and braking.

This sleek 4-door 6-Series is sharp on twisty roads with virtually no perceptible understeer. Yet it goes about its business in slightly robotic manner for a true BMW. Our test cars had to be equipped with the optional active steering, given their almost unnaturally quick reactions when turning in. Turning diameter is a short 39.2 feet that also enhances maneuverability in city driving.

Right for you?
The new 640i Gran Coupe is just as sexy as its 6-Series siblings, with considerable added usefulness of proper rear seats. Comparisons and confrontations with solid rivals are inevitable, but BMW now has a strong player in the 4-door luxury coupe chess game.

Three versions are set for the 2013 model year, starting with the 640i Gran Coupe with a starting price of $76,895. The V8-powered 650i Gran Coupe and all-wheel-drive 650i xDrive will carry base stickers of $87,395 and $90,395. Prices will rocket upwards with the various packages and standalone options.

A professional auto journalist for more than 25 years and the founding editor of Sympatico / MSN Autos, MarcLachapelle is a two-time winner of the Canadian Journalist of the Year award from the Automobile JournalistsAssociation of Canada, an accomplished photographer and licensed racer.

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BB05 - 8/28/2014 2:20:20 AM