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Driven: New BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo

2017-10-17 07:40

Ferdi de Vos

Image: BMW

Portugal – It used to be a Five but now, through systematically evolution it has become a Six – to be specific, the fourth derivative in the 6 Series line-up.

A confusing state of affairs? Perhaps, but for BMW to move the four-door coupe to the 6 Series made sense, as the F07 Gran Turismo model since its conception in 2009 was a peculiar fit within the 5 Series line-up. 

As the first 5 Series ever available in a fastback body style the GT wasn’t that well accepted within the range, but the spectacular sales performance of the Gran Coupe in the 6 Series – selling more than the coupe and convertible derivatives combined – convinced Munich to move the GT upmarket.

Interestingly, the GT was the first model released of the sixth generation 5 Series, and similarly the new Gran Turismo model is the first of the fourth incarnation of the 6 Series – indicating the level of confidence of BMW in this derivative.

But, there’s a caveat to this statement: It’s highly likely that there will be no other fourth generation 6 Series models, as the new GT will be sold alongside the current coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe until they are ultimately replaced by a new 8 Series range.

This has been partly confirmed by BMW’s recent announcement that production of the 6-Series Coupe at Dingolfing was discontinued in February this year.

Longer and lower

While still underpinned by the F01 7-Series platform of the current G30 5-Series and F12 6-Series, the technical basis for the new 6 Series Gran Turismo is the G38 5-Series version sold exclusively in China – extending its wheelbase providing additional space in the rear.

The new 6 Series Gran Turismo is 87mm longer than its 5 Series predecessor, exactly as wide (1.9m) but 21mm lower (1.5m) – giving it more balanced, dynamically stretched proportions.

Similar to the latest Five, the new GT’s kidney grille is prominent, and the lenses of the standard LED headlights extend all the way to the large grille. In profile the long bonnet, the setback position of the cabin, elongated window outline that stretches deep into the rear end and downward sweeping roofline, merging with the 64mm lower tail section, looks familiar, yet more resolved.

The new model also retains its predecessor’s doors with frameless windows (a first for a four-door BMW) but the rear lights with three-dimensional styling are now comparable to those of the new 5-Series. 

The interesting, but awkward two-way opening mechanism for the tailgate of its predecessor has also been dropped in favour of a conventional one-piece tailgate that opens and closes electrically as standard.

Its low-slung silhouette, with active air flap control and other measures (including Air Curtains, Air Breathers and an automatically extending rear spoiler) lowers its drag coefficient (Cd) to as little as 0.25.

The new four-door fastback now has a luggage capacity of 610 litres, 110 litres more than its predecessor, and the luggage compartment sill, lowered by more than 5cm, is now flush with the boot floor. 

Also, the split backrest can be released remotely and folded flat electrically via a button to increase load space to 1800 litres – up 100 litres on the outgoing model.

…and much lighter

A combination of lightweight engineering and increased use of aluminium and high-strength steel grades has shaved an average of 150 kilograms off the weight of the 6 Series GT compared to the heavy outgoing model. 

This, together with the improved aerodynamic and increased power and efficiency of its engines, endows it with sportier performance and better fuel efficiency.

Depending on engine variant, the new GT is up to 0.7 seconds quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint than its equivalent preceding model, while consumption and emissions figures are as much as 15% lower, according to BMW.

The line-up of new generation engines features TwinPower Turbo tech and is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard. The 2-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in the entry-level 630i GT delivers 190kW and peak torque of 400Nm, but this model will not come to South Africa. Well, at least not immediately.

However, the new 640i xDrive GT – the model available for test runs on a set route around Lisbon – is earmarked for SA introduction next month after making its local debut at the BMW M Festival at Kyalami this weekend.

Generating 250 kW and torque of 450 Nm, the 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line petrol engine enables the new all-wheel drive 640i GT a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.3 seconds, while consumption is stated as 7.7 litres/100km, which equates to a CO2 figure of between 159 and 177g/km.

The 630d Gran Turismo, powered by BMW’s trusty 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line diesel engine producing 195 kW and 620 Nm will also be available here, but only in two-wheel drive guise. Performance figures are stated as 6.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h with consumption and emission figures of 5.3 litres/100 km and 139 g/km.


6 Series GT 630d - from R1 081 300
6 Series 640i xDrive - R1 114 800
6 Series Sport Line - R1 101 300 / R1 134 800
6 Series Luxury Line - R1 116 400 / R1 149 900
M Sport models - R1 143 400 / R1 176 900 without options. 

It’s sportier too

With the change of chassis and a self-levelling air suspension at the rear the new BMW 6 Series GT demonstrates superior ride quality, and with the optional Adaptive suspension (featuring front and rear air suspension plus Dynamic Damper Control) it literally glides over Portuguese highways.

The Executive Drive option, offered in combination with the Integral Active Steering system and including active roll stabilisation, gave the GT a sportier edge, and the air suspension also allowed manual adjustment of its ride height –increasing ground clearance by 20mm at the touch of a button to negotiate steep ramps. 

The GT can also manually be lowered by 10mm, or automatically when Sport mode is engaged with the Driving Experience Control switch, or when its speed exceeds 120km/h. 

All these optional systems are now available in the xDrive models; the all-wheel drive giving it surefooted handling in even the trickiest conditions and it makes the new 6 Series GT a serious rival to the Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte.

Spacious inside

According to BMW the interior, detailed with premium materials and finished with precision. has been designed to provide a driver-focused cockpit and an extremely spacious passenger compartment.

It has a slightly raised seating position to optimise all-round view and three full size seats (with optional electric adjustment) in the rear. Even with the flatter roofline there is ample headroom at the back, and improved soundproofing makes the GT a very comfortable Tourer; in the true sense of the term.

At the heart of its versatile display and control system is the iDrive system with Touch Controller on the centre console. The display is now on a freestanding touchscreen (BMW claims it is the biggest in class at 26 cm) and enhanced voice control and gesture control is standard. A Head-Up Display is optionally available.

As to be expected, the new 6-Series GT is endowed with a host of driver assistance systems, including Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation and a new, improved version of Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function operational at speeds between 0 and 210km/h. 

The Steering and Lane control assistant represents another step along the road to automated driving, while the Lane Departure and Lane Change Warning systems, Side Collision Warning and evasion aid enhance convenience and safety with corrective steering inputs. We found it a bit intrusive at times, but not as sensitive as similar systems from some rival manufacturers…

Well Connected

Intelligent connectivity enables the digital personal mobility assistant BMW Connected to help drivers reach their destination easily – and not only when they are in their car. 

To this end, calendar entries from your smartphone can be used for route planning, the ideal departure time can be calculated using real-time traffic data and the destination can be transferred to the car. 

Once inside, you can manage calendar, e-mail and contact data via the Microsoft Exchange function, your smartphone integrated wirelessly via Bluetooth. 

Say what you will about the styling, the fact is the sleeker coupe design of the new BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo offers great functionality, blended with the long-distance comfort of a luxury sedan. 

It now has even higher standards of driving comfort, it is sporty and spaciousness with advanced equipment features, innovative control and assistance systems, and displays a leap forward in dynamism and efficiency.

The new 6 Series also hints at the way forward for the smaller 3 Series GT, which will become a 4 Series GT, and could possibly spawn specific hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, while a more focused 6 Series coupe could in future be launched to take on the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and Mercedes-AMG GT…

Model variants for South Africa

BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo: 
Engine: Six-cylinder in-line petrol
Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic 
Capacity: 2,998cc
Output: 250kW at 5,500 – 6,500 rpm 
Max. torque: 450Nm at 1,380 – 5,200 rpm 
Acceleration (0–100 km/h): 5.3 seconds 
Top speed: 250km/h 
Fuel consumption (combined): 8.2 – 7.7 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (combined): 187 – 177 g/km.
Price: R1 081 300 (standard)

BMW 630d Gran Turismo: 
Emgine: Six-cylinder in-line diesel
Trsansmission: Eight-speed Steptronic 
Capacity: 2,993cc
Output: 195 kW at 4000rpm
Max. torque: 620 Nm at 2000 – 2,500 rpm. 
Acceleration (0–100km/h): 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption (combined): 5.3 – 4.9 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (combined): 139 – 129 g/km
Price: R1 114 800 (standard)

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