BMW has taken the wraps off its new premium hatchback, although it prefers the term Gran Turismo (GT).

Due to arrive in South Africa in November after a world debut at September’s Frankfurt motor show, the new 6 Series GT replaces the niche-selling 5 Series GT which in 2009 introduced this five-door fastback body style to BMW’s line up.

The quirky shape is still likely to polarise opinion but the newcomer has a swoopier, more aerodynamic presence than its predecessor. At 5091mm the 6 Series GT has grown in length and has a lower roof to give it a more stretched profile, along with a long bonnet with set-back cabin. The roofline sweeps down at the rear, coupe-style.

It’s also a lot lighter, and the use of more aluminium and high-strength steel has shaved about 150kg off the weight of the old car. The more low-slung silhouette, together with air curtains, air breathers and an automatically extending rear spoiler reduce the drag coefficient which makes the big GT slip through the airstream more efficiently – improving refinement whilst reducing fuel consumption at the same time.

Self-levelling air suspension comes as standard at the rear axle, while ride comfort can be further enhanced by opting for Adaptive air suspension front and rear. There’s also an Executive Drive option which adds rear wheel steering and active roll stabilisation to give the car a sportier edge.

The enlarged cabin offers three full-size rear seats which are optionally available with electrically adjustable backrests. The tailgate opens and closes electrically over a cargo hold which has grown from 500 to 610 litres, and the split backrest can folded flat electrically to expand this to 1 800 litres.

Infotainment is handled by an iDrive system and large 26cm touchscreen, and gadgets can also be activated by voice and gesture control.

The new 6 Series GT inherits semi-automated driving features from the 5 and 7 Series including automatic braking, active cruise control and steering assist.

Overseas the car will be available in three engine variants, but only the 640i xDrive and 630d derivatives will be offered in South Africa when the car goes on sale here in November, both of them eight-speed Steptronic automatics.

The 640i flagship has all-wheel drive and a 3-litre petrol turbo engine with outputs of 250kW and 450Nm, for a claimed 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.3 seconds.

The rear-wheel drive 630d is moved along by a 3-litre turbodiesel mustering 195kW and 620Nm, good for 0-100 in 6 seconds.

Prices will be announced at launch time.