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BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe - A True Grand Touring 4 Door - Driving Review
To truly appreciate the 6 Series Gran Coupe you must understand it. Without understanding, it is easy to miss the Gran Coupe's function, its form and the thoroughness of the implementation. Many see the 4 door 6 Series Gran Coupe and ask, isn't a 4 door 6 Series what BMW calls a 5 Series? And they would be correct, if you don't understand the Gran Coupe and measure it solely on the number of doors.
For years if you wanted a BMW you picked from a 3, 5 or 7 or you shopped else where. The world, the car market, and BMW are changing and the Gran Coupe is the latest reflection of the changes at Bavarian Motor Works. BMW purists will say BMW should stick to their roots, but in a way they are. The BMW 5 Series is the perennial class leading business sedan and BMW knows it and doesn't want to mess with what works. So the purists who like their 3/5/7 can continue getting the class leading, traditionally styled 4 door sedans. BMW didn't try and take what works and change it to suit a new group of buyers, as many other brands have tried and failed at. The 6 Series Gran Coupe is BMW's attempt to win over buyers who would never buy a 5 Series. The 5er style is superb but conservative and its success as the class leader makes it ubiquitous, and there is something enjoyable about driving a car that everyone else doesn't have.
The 6 Series Gran Coupe is the Un 5 Series Sedan. Its the car for someone who wants a sleek, stylish well appointed German car but won't give up the 4 doors. With that in mind the Gran Coupe starts to make a lot of sense in BMWs line up in to attracting new buyers or keeping buyers that have had a good run with the 5er and want something a bit more fun and a little less practical.
Does the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe deliver on being the Un 5 Series, but still being the ultimate driving machine? In a word, absolutely. The Gran Coupe is an entire grand coupe experience, it is a proper 4 door grand touring car if there ever was one. The styling can be hard to appreciate in pictures, especially in love it or hate it Frozen Bronze paint. In person all the angles work, and the design flairs look and feel at home and add to the experience of the car. The proportions are excellent with a wheel base 4.4 inches longer then the coupe, giving the car a long low slung look. The front end is a copy of the 6 series but the doors back are Gran Coupe specific, including the floor pan giving it a 4+1 seating configuration. The doors are as you would expect on a BMW coupe are frame less with the rear doors closing over a Gran Coupe emblem that sits under the rear window glass. It all works together to create an experience that is more elegant than the 5 series while retaining the 4 door functionality you loose with a 2 door 6 Series.
Open the frame less door, slide into the Gran Coupe drivers seat and the first thing you notice is the gorgeous interior. The dash is full leather with accent stitching and a sleek iPad like 10.2" iDrive and navigation screen on the top of the dash that is angled towards the driver. The buttons and controls seem to fall right at your finger tips and the heads up display puts everything you need right on the windshield. Hit the start button and N55 TwinPower 6 cylinder on the 640i hums to life. The exhaust note has a nice start up growl that mellows to a quiet burble. The Gran Coupe shares the N55 with the F30 335i and F10 535i but gets a 15 horsepower bump to 315hp. The power bump is BMW's nod that the Gran Coupe is upmarket of the 5 series and has more power as a result. The engine is mated to BMW's new 8 speed automatic with sport and manual modes for when the roads get twisty or you want to be more involved in the driving. The seats are borrowed from the 6 Series Convertible and are comfortable and hold you surprisingly well despite a flatter seat bottom and back.
Walk around to the rear doors and you discover the problem with the Gran Coupe. When you give a car a coupe like roof line you end up with coupe like rear headroom. Anyone over 6 feet tall is going to feel cramped in the back, despite the generous leg room, and I cannot imagine putting anyone in the center seat who is taller then 5 feet. On a quick trip around town the rear seats are workable for a 6 foot plus passenger, but you're not getting the opulent experience that BMW wants the Gran Coupe to provide. But how often does anyone really use their rear seats anyways? Especially an empty nester, a target buyer for the Gran Coupe. I had a sedan for years and used the back seat more often for groceries then I did passengers and the Gran Coupe has plenty of room for that or the occasional rear passenger.
Back in the comfortable and headroom friendly front seat and on the open road the grand touring feeling of the Gran Coupe cannot be understated. The car is so comfortable to drive, you feel enveloped in style and luxury with power and performance on demand. In daily driving situations the suspension is compliant over bumps without feeling floaty or imprecise. Head into the mountains or around some curves and the ridge chassis gives you confidence in the machine under you and the seats hold you surprisingly well. The steering is the latest electronic system from BMW, with more feedback then expected and just the right amount of power assistance. The N55 engine is amazingly smooth and feels like it is putting down more power then the factory rating of 315hp. I cannot see the need for the V8 650i, especially with gas prices, but if you're buying a car that starts at $76,895 fuel economy is probably not a big concern. Everything about the Gran Coupe driving experience is perfectly dialed in, I've never driving a car that makes you want to keep driving it, not for the pure performance (read my BMW M6 review) but out of pure enjoyment of the driving experience.
With the Gran Coupe, BMW set styling as top priority and the engineers worked the chassis to give it driving dynamics to match. In a new and untested arena for BMW they've come out of the gates strong and have a potential hit on on their hands. While the Gran Coupe might not appeal to a practical minded 3/5/7 owning BMW enthusiast, there is a place in the BMW line up for something a little less practical and BMW could not have built a better car then the 6 Series Gran Coupe to fill that void.
Last edited by pix335i; 06-12-2012 at 12:58 PM.
More about BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe - A True Grand Touring 4 Door - Driving Review
Good write up and I do agree with you that the GC is for people who prefer style over substance and you are spot on when you said there is a good feeling about having a car not many people own. One question though do you know if there is a differnce between the coupe and the GC in terms of driving experience ?