BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe driven in SA
BMW's 6 Series Gran Coupe is now available to order in South Africa, in either petrol and diesel persuasion, each in a three-litre straight six.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first.
640i - R882 045
640d - R914 623
There's also a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 650i due in November (no price on that one yet) that kicks out a seriously muscular 330kW and 650Nm.
The sixes are no slouches either; BMW quotes 235kW at 5800rpm and 450Nm from 1300-4500rpm for the 2979cc TwinPower Turbo petrol, or 230kW at 4400rpm and 630Nm from 1500-2500rpm for the oil-burner.
An eight-speed Steptronic 'sport automatic' transmission is standard in each case, and their performance is identical: 5.4 seconds to 100km/h and a 250km/h flat out.
The major differences are in fuel consumption (BMW claims 7.7 litres per 100km for the petrol versus 5.5 for the diesel) and emissions ratings (179g/km for the petrol, 146 for the diesel).
Which one you choose will depend mostly on your driving style - whether you like to short-shift and power through the corners on a wave of torque (get the diesel) or bang down two gears and ride the revs like a motorcycle (petrol for you).
Jesse Adams of our sister publication Star Motoring was at the South African launch this week.
“Both turbocharged six-cylinder engines are punchy enough to compliment the stunning exterior,” he said, “but it's the 640d I'm impressed with the most.
“It effortlessly lays down torque with a surprisingly gruff growl, and felt the better performer of the two models on offer now. But, we look forward to the twin-turbo V8 650i version later this year... and the M6 Gran Coupe we're told will arrive next year.
“This car was as happy to wolf down kilometres on N2 as it was to slither down one of the country's best roads in Betty's Bay in Cape Town on the launch drive this week. True, BMWs are almost always keen handlers, but I'd feel more confident leaning hard in a corner here than in a narrower and taller 5 or 7 Series..”
But, in truth, it's not about how fast you can go in this car, it's how good you'll look.
The 6 Series Gran Coupe is not, of course, a coupé; it's a four-door sedan with a very slinky roofline. It's a fingernail more than five metres long, 1894mm wide but only 1392mm high. At 2968mm its wheelbase is 113mm longer than that of the 'real' Six (the one with two doors!) providing tangible benefits in terms of rear-seat comfort, although rear headroom is still a little limited.
Adams agreed: “A 5 or 7 Series would get their own back in rear seating space, as the Gran Coupe is a bit compromised in this department. Headroom, as you'd expect from one of these 'four door coupes' with sexy sloping C pillars, is limited.”
Nevertheless, BMW's characteristic design language, with long bonnet and rear-set cabin, lends itself to this treatment; the superbly elegant Gran Coupe hangs together visually in a way that neither the 5 Series GT nor the X6 could achieve.
STRETCHING THE PROFILE
The frameless side windows and the signature Hofmeister Kink extending deep into the C pillar help stretch the profile, lowering the car's visual centre of gravity even further, while a full-width third brake light neatly outlines the top edge of the rear window and the high tail provides space for a decent 460-litre boot.
“Take one BMW 6 Series Coupe and stretch it into a sedan with four doors, “ Adams explained. “It's as simple as that.
“Technically the new Gran Coupe is more closely related to the huge 7 Series than anything else, but with 6 styling that works extremely well in these proportions.
“Said proportions also work wonders on the road, and while its extended wheelbase, which is coincidentally identical to that of a 5 Series, sees it fly straight as an arrow on those uninterrupted highway stretches, it's the widened rear track that makes it also perform in the bends.”
TRAVEL FIRST CLASS
The Gran Coupe is intended as a truly grand tourer with xenon headlights, automatic dual-zone aircon and full leather trim with electric seat adjustment as standard features.
The front passenger area is enclosed by elegantly curved surfaces, with the 'working areas' subtly angled towards the driver, while the rear seats are set up to accommodate two people.
As Adams put it: “The rear bench is designed as two separate buckets with little or no provision for a middle passenger - despite a third seat belt for one.
“BMW says it's there to transport a fifth occupant in a pinch. Quite literally, we take it.”
While there are other, more conventional four-door BMW models that will do everything the Gran Coupe will do - and possibly for a little less money - it's unlikely that any of them will do it with quite as much panache.
Owning a BMW 6 Series Grand Coupe, like choosing a Burberry coat or a Montblanc pen, is a matter of style.