Reviews

2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe Walk Around

Even though the 6 Series Gran Coupe is only 4.5 inches longer than the 6 Series Coupe, it looks longer than that, partly because the side windows are longer. They extend far back into the C-pillar to make this four-door look like a coupe. There's Gran Coupe badging etched in the rear section of the side window, and the roofline stretches smoothly to the rear deck.

The 6 Series Gran Coupe is lower and wider than the 5 Series sedan. The flowing contours are powerful, inspired by the movement of waves, says BMW. They open out as they extend rearward to the muscular rear end. A character line streams from a gill on the front wheel arch to the door handle and bulging rear wheel arches, forming a strong stance. Another character line drops from the front wheel arch to the sculpted sill and travels back horizontally.

From the rear, the Gran Coupe still looks low, with its flared wheel arches emphasizing the wide track. The trunk lid and rear fascia are flatter than on other 6 Series models. The L-shaped rear lights use LED strips and are distinctive. The third brake light is integrated into the roof and stretches the full length of the rear window.

The hallmark BMW twin round headlights are xenon and adaptive. The optional Adaptive LED Headlights change that hallmark with LED light rings for the parking lights and flattened daytime running lights, with horizontal LED ribs. Underneath the kidney-shaped twin grille, the air intakes are bigger, wider, and bolder than ever, defying that foo-foo name Gran Coupe.

Advances in materials and development of the chassis structure have enhanced agility and security. In pursuit of balance, the doors, hood and front spring mounts are aluminum, while the front fenders and trunk lid are made from reinforced composite. The double-wishbone front suspension and the multi-link rear suspension are mostly aluminum.

An M Sport package is available with aero front and rear fascia and skirts, exhaust tips in black chrome, black brake calipers, 19-inch alloy wheels in M double-spoke design, and Carbon Black metallic or Imola Red non-metallic paint. Inside, there are M Alcantara and leather sports seats, an M leather steering wheel and gearshift paddles, and aluminum trim.

Interior

The 6 Series Gran Coupe technically seats five, although that center rear seat isn't much. Even BMW thinks of this four-door as a four-passenger car. But with more side glass, the interior that's already roomier than a coupe feels much more open. Even with the low roofline, climbing in and out of the comfortable form-fitting back seats is easy; although the legroom of 35.3 inches is so-so, at best. The Mercedes CLS has just 35.0 inches, but the Audi A7 offers 37.0 inches and the Jaguar XJL a massive 44.1 inches, however, the Jaguar is nearly 10 inches longer than the BMW.

Another place the Gran Coupe loses is cargo capacity. The 6 Series Coupe has 16.0 cubic feet of trunk space, yet the four-door Gran Coupe has only 13.0. The Mercedes has 15.9, the Jaguar 15.2, and the Audi A7 a spacious 24.5 cubic feet in the rear, thanks to its fastback five-door design.

BMW spends an enormous amount of time and thought on the design of its interiors, the shapes and flow of things. We wish they spent more time on the layout and function of controls, but it's a matter of what they feel are the priorities of BMW buyers. Let's just say the Gran Coupe interior is graceful to look at and certainly comfortable, but cumbersome to figure out and make things work, partly because there's so much to figure out and make work. If only it was as simple as the systems in the far less expensive Volkswagen Jetta or Mazda3.

At least the display screen is big, at 10.2 inches, and it's readable in the sun. And the little window below the speedometer that indicates trip information is easy to read and easy to scroll through. As for the instruments, we love the large analog tachometer and 160-mph speedometer. We love the thick leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel; it provides good cornering feel, and has controls for audio, phone and cruise control.

In the cabin, there are subtle curves everywhere: from the rear doors to front doors to dashboard to center console, or maybe it flows in the other direction. BMW says that this “provides a harmonious surround for the front passenger area, creating a feeling of exclusive security,” and we'll take their word for it, although what makes us feel secure is when we can easily operate the navigation system.

The center stack of controls is oriented toward the driver, and the console continues between the seats to the rear. BMW adds, “Precise contours help to create an intriguing contrast with the interior's soft, curvaceous surfaces, producing a vibrant and dynamic collage of forms.”

Our Gran Coupe had the standard Dakota leather, not Nappa leather for $3000 more, or Merino leather for $5000. Dakota was fairly firm, and the seats were broad. Since there are five suspension settings, from Comfort Plus to Sport Plus, there should be five seat settings, as far as grip. Wait, there are. The standard multi-contour seats have 20 settings.

The optional Luxury Seating Package adds ventilated, active, multi-contour seats, sunshades on the rear side and rear windows, and a four-zone climate control system with additional controls located between the rear seats.

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