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      05-09-2012, 10:18 AM   #1
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Arrow BIMMERPOST First Drive: 6 Series Gran Coupe Review

BIMMERPOST First Drive: 6 Series Gran Coupe Review

Press Conference from Our International Press Drive

BMW invited us to test the all-new 6 Series Gran Coupe (internally dubbed F06) [full info thread] which is set to complement the already available Coupe (F13) and Cabrio (F12) versions. Here’s our review after two days and roughly 160 miles.

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Let’s begin with some facts and figures. At 197.1 inches, the Gran Coupe is about four inches longer than the F13 Coupe, and only 2.7 inches shorter than the F01 7 Series. To allow the additional doors and rear space, the wheelbase of the Gran Coupe has been increased by 4.5 inches over the Coupe, making for 116.9 inches in total. The luggage compartment has a capacity of 460 litres and can accommodate three golf bags. Split-down rear seats allow for a maximum capacity of 1265 litres. BMW expects to sell 30 percent of all Gran Coupes in the US, likely being the biggest market.

The Gran Coupe is supposed to combine the sportiness of a 6 Series with the luxury of a 7 Series. In terms of ride, the sportiness succeeded. There's a choice of 5 different driving modes - namely Sport+, Sport, Comfort, Comfort+ and Eco Pro. Comfort and Comfort+ are fairly compliant when it comes to lesser roads, but a 5 or a 7 series still have the edge over the Gran Coupe in this regard. My personal favorite was Sport mode as it left enough comfort for my needs yet provided good damping for a spirited drive and also improved steering. Speaking of which, the electric steering does a good job considering the needs this car is made for. Don't expect too much feedback, however. We expect the M6 Gran Coupe (due early next year) to be the only choice for those lusting for ultimate steering feedback.

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BMW chose Sicily, Italy to present this car, and some journalists thought that was a bold move. Bold because roads in Sicily are narrow and winding; roads not well fitted for a large 4-door coupe to be driven spiritedly on... unless it’s the 6 series Gran Coupe (6GC). To put things into perspective: After the first press drives last November, I happened to drive an F30 328i again just last week. Minus the 4-door layout, the F30 and 6GC are as contrary to each other as it gets – or so I was inclined to believe up until then. The 6GC's much bigger, longer, and heavier body was something I thought I would be unpleasantly aware during the entire driving experience.

But I was wrong. It didn’t take much longer than just a few minutes for me to forget about all of that. Equipped with BMW’s latest suspension and drivetrain bells and whistles (EDC, Dynamic Drive, Adaptive Drive, Integral Active Steering including rear axle steering), this car is able to negotiate corners in a physics-defying way (considering its size and heft). This isn’t to say that the 6GC can be as agile, nimble and tossable as a 3 series, because it will never be. But, it does an excellent job in making you forget just that. There are some instances where you get a friendly reminder of its size, however. As if narrow and winding wasn’t enough, Sicilian roads also have a thing for sand. With a thin layer on top, said roads’ grip levels can drop to somewhere between wet and icy. Entering a corner a bit too fast – due to said sand and/or your own enthusiasm - results in solid understeer as the car's mass can’t easily be brought back in line once it’s lost. But, it's nothing an experienced driver couldn't remedy with a stab of the throttle.

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Speaking of power, BMW offers two engine choices for now. The 3.0-litre N55 inline-6 in the 640i is well-known and produces 320 hp and 450 Nm of torque between 1300 and 4500 rpm. There’s not much left to say about this engine that hasn't already been said. It’s amazing, it’s a legend, and it’s a good fit to any car in the BMW lineup. The other engine is an updated version of BMW’s 4.4-litre N63 V8 for the 650i Gran Coupe. It inherits Valvetronic from the M5/M6 S63Tu engine and now also works with BMW’s efficient dynamics features such as Auto Start Stop. Power has increased to 450 hp and torque is now at 650 Nm between 2000 and 4500 rpm. BMW didn’t let us drive the 650i version yet as it won't hit the market until Autumn 2012.

Europe also gets the 640d Gran Coupe which is powered by the latest version of the marvelous 3.0-litre N57 inline-6 Diesel engine. I’m not one for diesel engines in general, but what this 313hp unit is capable of makes it tough to come up with things not to like about diesel engines. Given plenty of torque, it’s powerful enough yet returned roughly 32 mpg during my test drive that wasn’t meant to save fuel. There’s no word on US availability of diesel variants yet, but maybe BMW will be less tight-lipped during the 6GC US press drives in two weeks.

All engines are coupled to the known 8-speed automatic, and it’s a perfect fit for the car and any engine. It’s smooth and fast. It offers two automatic and one manual mode including proper shift paddles (left side paddle shifts down, right side paddle shifts up – just as it should be). As usual for this transmission, Auto Start Stop doesn’t engage when the shift mode is set to Sport. So that’s another way to switch off this feature in case you don’t like it. There’s nothing to hate about it as it’s flawless, however.

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The saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder doesn’t hold true for the beautiful 6 series Gran Coupe's design. The design language – while similar to the other 6 series variants – works best for the 6GC. It may be the longer and sleeker appearance that makes it stand out in such a beautiful way. In addition, frameless doors add a nice and unique 'coupe' touch. I have yet to meet a person that didn’t fall in love with this design in an instant. And yes, that includes the friendly Italian police officer who said “Complimenti!” about the car, moments after he had pulled me over, but that’s another story.

The interior is similar to the other 6 series models including the most prominent incorporation of a cockpit wrapping around the driver. As you’d expect from a 6 series, there’s plenty of room while retaining that nice cozy feeling of being a drivers’ car with all buttons and switches laid right in front or besides you. The center console features two large cup holders for bottles (or even smaller pimp goblets if that’s your thing). There’s enough room for two passengers in the rear, comfortably. The third rear seat in the middle allows a fifth person to join enjoying the car – in theory. Interior quality is the best I’ve experienced in a current BMW model. Compared to my personal favorite in this class, the Porsche Panamera, I can’t decide which car feels more luxurious inside. They’re both top notch with plenty of leather and wood wrapped around you (if you ticked all the right boxes in the options list). All cars in Sicily had an all-leather Individual combination of Amaro Brown and Opal White which is exclusive to the Gran Coupe. It might have been the dazzling interior trim called Ash Grain White which made this particular interior look a bit over the top. Then again, combined with the also exclusive Frozen Bronze exterior color you can have a highly unique color combination. I just wouldn’t choose it personally. The other colors you see in the photos below is Moonstone Metallic and Citrin Black Metallic, both Individual colors.

As usual, there’s a plethora of options and electronic features available. Two things worth mentioning in particular are the Head-Up Display and the Bang&Olufsen High-End Surround Sound System. The full color Head-Up display is a must have. Once you’re used to getting things like speed and navigation info projected on your windscreen there’s no way back. Having the opportunity for the first time, I gave the Bang&Olufsen sound system a good try during the test drive. BMW provided a pre-selected track list of mostly Italian songs. The sound was good but not overwhelming – until Adele’s “Don’t you remember” came up on the track list. It blew me away. Her voice was crisp and clear as if she was standing or sitting right next to me. Vocals really stand out with that sound system. By contrast, I also happened to have Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop” with me, and that sounded equally good. I can’t tell you if it’s worth spending $3,700 for YOU, but I think I would choose it personally.

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The 640i Gran Coupe will hit US dealer showroom floors on June 23rd 2012 with the 650i and 650i xDrive Gran Coupe to follow in September. Including destination and handling, the all-new BMW 640i Gran Coupe will carry a MSRP of $76,895. The BMW 650i Gran Coupe and the 650i xDrive Gran Coupe will be priced at $87,395 and $90,395 respectively. Both Individual selection and M Sport Package will be available at launch. As BMW mentioned, it’s their first 4-door coupe, and it’s amazing. I can’t wait for more cars of its kind from BMW. And neither can Italian police officers.

Moonstone and Frozen Bronze 6 Series Gran Coupe - Press Drive in Sicily, Italy

640i Gran Coupe M Sport Shows Off Citrin Black

Citrin Black Individual 640i Gran Coupe M Sport

650i Gran Coupe