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BMW 640d Gran Coupe M Sport

Click to view picture galleryHowever hard you try to save
  money, someone will come up with
  something to make you spend it on.
  BMW is very good at this
  out their new 640d Gran Coupe

WHY WILL YOU WANT ONE? Simple: just look at the pictures and then tell me you don't fancy wafting around in one; then I can tell you that you're in denial…

At a tad over five metres long from its trademark forward-leaning double-kidney grille to its rakish tail, the new Gran Coupe (an elegantly styled four-door coupe) is every inch the grand tourer.

And being a 'big' BMW, the three powerplants on offer are, not surprisingly, all big-hitters: customers — those, that is, with at least £60 to £70K burning a hole in their pocket — can choose between a 320bhp 3.0-litre petrol six-cylinder (640i: £61,625), a 313bhp 3.0-litre six-pot turbodiesel (the 640d: £64,130), and a 449bhp twin-turboed petrol-burning V8 (650i: £70,895).

All power units are turbocharged, have mpg-maximising Auto Start-Stop and drive through a silky-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission; all will run to the same electronically restricted and politically correct (for Germany) 155mph top speed.

“A beautifully appointed
cabin that’s not just
good-looking and makes
you feel like a million
dollars but is
more spacious than
a slinky coupe has
any right to be
Externally the Gran Coupe looks 'the biz' — it's a real beauty to behold in the metal. The bonnet is classically long, like the raked coupe roof capping the four-door cabin and blending fluently with the rear deck. The flanks are punctuated by discreetly flared wheel arches packed out with classy 20-inch alloys riding on low-pro rubber; the sills are low to the ground — both hinting at the Gran Coupe's performance.

Swing open the driver's door and drop into the sports seat (upholstered in soft Dakota leather) and you'll find a beautifully appointed cabin that's not just good-looking and makes you feel like a million dollars (still worth having today!) but is more spacious than a slinky coupe has any right to be.

It's not magic; it's not even rocket science — BMW have just lengthened the standard 6 Series Coupe's wheelbase (on which the Gran Coupe sits) to provide ample legroom for two adults travelling in the individually sculpted rear seats. For the record, this Gran Coupe is not a 2+2 but a thoroughly practical four-seater and although the centre rear belt makes it a 4+1, five's a crowd.

This is a BMW, so the driver-orientated dash layout is expected. And welcome. Noticeably, you sit much lower to the ground, which only adds to the pre-race 'Gentlemen, start your engines' feeling. Everything you need is intuitively close to hand: the automatic box's selector lever and the iDrive controller are sited in the long, wide central console separating those in the front and which reaches through to the back seats. Keyless Go means you only need have the key fob on your person (or in your handbag) when it comes to entry, starting and locking.

A 10.2-inch high-res display, which makes most others look like smartphone screens, takes centre stage on the fascia. Even more noticeable is the fit and finish and the tasteful, high-quality trim materials — it's seriously first rate and on a par with the elegant class-leading tailoring you'll find in top-of-the-line Audis.

Crystal clear dials add to the stylish ambience and you won't want to let go of the M Sport steering wheel's good-to-grip leather-wrapped rim. Left to the Steptronic 'box, gear changes are seamless; if you prefer to take control then non-slip wheel-mounted satin chrome paddle-shifters are just a finger's-stretch away. Another well-considered touch: no reflections on bright days from the all-black wheel.

“You won’t want to
let go of the M Sport
steering wheel’s
good-to-grip leather-
wrapped rim
Heated front seats (super-fast, bone-warming heat all the way from under your knees to your shoulders), multi-zone climate control, active cruise control, SatNav, powerfold mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power adjustable steering wheel, every-which-way electrically adjustable seats, automatic hold/electric parking brake (works seamlessly and an absolute boon in stop-and-go traffic), self-close doors, one-shot windows and sun blind for the large glass roof, seat memories (two settings for each front seat) and drive-away locking are, of course, expected at this level — and are, of course, all present and correct.

As too are many other high-end items such as front and rear Park Distance Control, privacy glass, Head-up display for speed (and, helpfully, the prevailing speed limit), Parking Assist for auto-assisted parallel parking, and a parking camera — a clever touch is that it's hidden behind the BMW badge on the boot, which lifts automatically to allow the camera to 'see' whenever you select reverse gear. Suffice to say you'll be hard pressed to think of anything else you might need either in creature comforts, entertainment, driver information or driving and handling aids.

That said, BMW has, very considerately, already done the thinking for you and if you do want to dip into the options list then there are plenty of boxes for you to tick. Our press car was laden with 'extras' that bumped up the price (in the nicest possible way) to £85K. If you can afford this BMW you won't be buying to a budget, so tick away. What did we say earlier about inviting ways to spend money? And now would be a good time to remind yourself that, unlike James Bond, you only live once…

Back to the rear seats — they also have grand touring in mind and, enhanced by relaxing backrest angles, proved to be equally comfortable. The 460-litre boot swallows more than enough luggage for a couple of couples weekending at Le Mans or touring Italy's divine Amalfi Coast. Alternatively, fold down the seatbacks and the load space expands to 1,265 litres — and 70-inches long. With the seats in use, slim but lengthy loads can easily be accommodated using the ski-hatch.

“What the ‘standard’ set
of figures (top speed
& 0-62mph: 155mph
& 5.4 seconds) don’t get
over is exactly how
visceral that feels when
it comes from
313bhp and
464lb ft of torque
M Sport models come with sports suspension… and I can already hear your question: Do you need gum shields? No. Absolutely not. Despite riding on large 20-inch alloys connected to a lowered suspension set-up, the Gran Coupe rides okay. Firmly: you will know when the Dunlop rubber (245/35 at the front and 275/30 at the rear) goes over cat's eyes, but it's supple enough. And you can cushion the ride by selecting the softest (C+) comfort setting.

Now, about that performance potential. This is a quick car. What the 'standard' set of figures (top speed & 0-62mph: 155mph & 5.4 seconds) don't get over is exactly how visceral that feels when it comes from 313bhp and 464lb ft of torque served up between 1,500 and 2,500rpm.

In real-world driving this means abundant and immediate overtaking punch anywhere, anytime; yet pulling away can be as silky smooth and hushed as you want it to be.

However, press down hard with your right foot and the Gran Coupe surges forward, the gearbox seamlessly running through the eight gears accompanied by a 'means business' growl that's as gratifying as any potent petrol engine makes.

Dynamically this big, five-metre-long, rear-wheel drive grand tourer is well-matched to the straight-six powerhouse under its bonnet. Driving modes to match any mood are never more than a finger press away: choose from mpg-boosting ECO PRO, Comfort, Comfort+, Sport and full-on sportscar-baiting Sport+ driving styles.

At every step up from ECO PRO, the steering, transmission, throttle and stability system responses all go up a notch until the appropriately-named Sport+ — where you'll get satisfying and unflappable sportscar-grade handling along testing roads; be they Alpine passes or British Bs.

Equally agreeable is that the 640d's 3.0-litre all-aluminium inline-six cylinder engine is a refined performer; your friends won't know it's a diesel whether they're on the inside looking out or on the outside looking in. Good news status-wise as well as wallet-wise.

Officially, the 640d manages an overall 50.4mpg. With its touring-friendly 70-litre fuel tank, you could travel getting on for 750 miles before needing to visit a forecourt. Our earlier review of the 640d, taking in all types of roads and motoring conditions, recorded 40.2mpg. This time round we only managed 36.8mpg but then we did spend a lot of time around town and on snowy roads.

“Many customers will
sign up for the Gran
Coupe — and not just for
its graceful sports
styling, although that
will undoubtedly be
a factor
Where the 6 Series Gran Coupes score is in their ability to cover a huge number of miles at any end of the speed spectrum — on unrestricted autobahns its natural gait seems to be 100mph — while providing luxurious accommodation for a driver and up to three passengers and at the same time serving up true-blue (and white — check that badge!) driving pace.

It would be terribly un-sporting not to mention the competition, because there are always rivals for your affections… and your money.

Anybody considering a Gran Coupe would also be able to afford an Audi S7, Mercedes CLS or a Porsche Panamera — an image-enhancing trio all targeting the same customer profiles.

Out-and-out performance drivers may come down in favour of the Porsche; lovers of all things all-wheel drive will, understandably, be much enamoured of the Audi; some die-hards who still see the Mercedes-Benz badge as having a classier aura will go for the persuasive CLS. However, many will sign up for the Gran Coupe — and not just for its graceful sports styling, although that will undoubtedly be a factor.

For most owners an 'off the shelf' Gran Coupe will be more than car enough, but individuals who want to take advantage of the various dynamic-enhancing options to up the 640d's handling game can choose from the likes of Adaptive Drive (which uses active roll bars to enhance the handling through bends) and Integral Active Steering that turns the rear wheels as well as the fronts to further sharpen the already sharp and well-weighted steering.

So if you like your G 'n' T with a twist of zesty lime, then a 6 Series grand tourer should go down very well indeed. Chin-chin!

BMW 640d Gran Coupe M Sport | £68,795
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.4 seconds | Average test MPG: 36.8mpg
Power: 313bhp | Torque: 464lb ft | CO2 148g/km