BMW 6 Series GT: Much the same but much more
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It’s not really possible to drive a new vehicle for the first time without bringing a few preconceptions along for the ride.
The BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo has a blend of familiar BMW architecture, power train and equipment content packaged in a unique mix of multi-tasking design themes.
BMW’s luxury line-up offers the 5 Series sedan and Touring, sleek 4 and 6 Series GranCoupes and the X6 Sport Activity Coupe.
There are elements of each to be found in the 6 Series Gran Turismo, which is actually closest in shared architecture to the premium 7 Series saloon with the same 3070mm wheelbase.
A fast roofline and frameless windows introduce some coupe flavour. The five-door liftback design provides versatility while xDrive all-wheel drive comes with a lower ride height and less aggressive stance than an X6.
It seems to be either the luxury BMW perfectly tailored to a handful of buyers with specific requirements, or the BMW for drivers not quite sure what they really want.
The answer to whether all this converges into a cohesive luxury experience became clearer as I clocked some mileage in the big Gran Turismo.
About an hour into a drive, my attention had been drawn to its excellent seating comfort, supple ride quality and the low-effort six-cylinder turbo urge that delivers a quietly swift and luxurious drive.
The Gran Turismo is more than 5m long, its wheelbase stretching out just a little more than 3m.
Auckland | Penrose
$571.78 p/w $2,287.10 p/m
Auckland | Auckland City
$602.51 p/w $2,410.04 p/m
The five-door, five-seat layout offers generous rear seat space with a reclining rear seat. Further back, there’s an excellent 610 litres of cargo space that expands to 1800 litres with the rear seat folded and the powered tailgate opens to offer a long and flat floor load with additional concealed space under a lift-up floor.
In practical terms, the Gran Turismo ticks much the same lifestyle and versatility boxes as a 5 Series Touring.
There’s also driving and performance appeal with the Gran Turismo efficiently pushed along by BMW’s TwinPower 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol inline six-cylinder, which develops 250kW at 5500rpm with 450Nm of torque available at just 1380rpm.
The smooth power and strong torque is accompanied by a sweet straight-six engine note while eight-speed gearing helps with the response.
The 640i xDrive Gran Turismo packs enough muscle to propel its 1.9-tonne mass through the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.3 seconds and provide easy overtaking response.
Relaxed 1600rpm cruising at 100km/h in eighth gear demands little work by the turbo six and downshifts to 1900rpm in seventh, 2200rpm in sixth and 3000rpm in fifth start to reveal more of its pace.
A respectable road test fuel consumption average of 8.9L/100km is not far from BMWs claimed figure of 8.5L/100km.
The xDrive all-wheel drive system ensures impressive grip and stability at highway speeds. In standard form the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo has the same self-levelling rear air suspension as the 5 Series Touring and the road test car had the next level of Adaptive two-axle air suspension, which is a $4000 option.
The full air option brings a supple feel to a vehicle riding on 20in M alloy wheels with low-profile Pirelli P-Zero tyres in mixed sizing with 245/40 R20 rubber up front and fat 275/35 R20s at the rear.
Comfort mode is a nicely compliant solution at lower speeds across lumpy city streets whereas out on New Zealand highways there is an Adaptive drive mode where the 640i finds its a happy place constantly adjusting the suspension tune for ride quality and progressive body control.
The cabin layout is familiar modern BMW architecture with the large 10.25-inch dashtop display for the latest Connected Drive technology, multi-view camera system and Professional Navigation with real-time traffic info.
The press car built on the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo standard specification not only with the air suspension but also a $1500 Nappa leather option with elaborate stitch detailing plus the $1650 Comfort Package with heated seats front and rear, a heated steering wheel and ambient air package.
The most expensive option was an $8250 Bowers and Wilkins audio option delivering a 16-speaker, 1400-watt surround sound experience. An upgrade to four-zone air conditioning adds $1000.
Although the pricing starts at $155,600 these options plus an Innovations Pack with BMWs display key, remote control parking and Apple CarPlay preparation totalled $17,350 and bumped the price on the test car to $172,950.
Fortunately, plenty of the Gran Turismo highlights are part of the standard equipment package, including the long-range illumination of the LED headlights with adaptive high beam function, a panorama glass sunroof, head-up display, 360-degree multi-view camera and wireless phone charging. An M styling package, M braking system and the 20-inch M light alloy wheels are also standard.
The 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is a non-conventional luxury solution that side-steps the formality of a traditional luxury sedan, delivers wagon-like loading capability and offers an alternative to high-ride SUV.