It’s difficult to explain exactly why the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe exists. As its name suggests, the newcomer is a four-door version of the 6 Series coupe. And that, in turn, is a two-door version of the 5 Series, which already has a sporty spin-off in the form of the Gran Turismo.
Yet despite its mangled family tree, the 6 Series Gran Coupe has a coherence and grace to its styling that we haven’t seen from the brand for some years. Although the front end doesn’t quite have the visual impact you’d expect, the flowing roofline, chiselled shoulders and tapered tail all gel together beautifully.
The car is also packed with clever and evocative details. Pull the rear door open and a sleek Gran Coupe logo is revealed in the shut panel next to the car’s trademark Hofmeister kink C-pillar. Run your eye along the front wing and you’ll spot an elegant chrome flash which harks back to classic BMW coupes and roadsters of the fifties.
The designers also get top marks for the interior layout, which combines high-end luxury with a raft of clever gadgets. The first thing that strikes you is the vast display that sits on top of the dashboard. As wide as the screen on a laptop, it dominates the front of the cabin and delivers crisp graphics which make easy work of navigating the 640’s countless features.
The BMW also scores for cabin space. Head and legroom in the front are predictably generous, but it’s in the back where the Gran Coupe really impresses. By extending the wheelbase by 113mm, carving out the door panels and stretching the seat bench the full width of the car, BMW has created a far more inviting space for those confined to the rear.
There are, however, a couple of features that don’t quite work. The operation of the gearshift is blighted by a clumsy unlock button and a rocker-style selection mechanism that feels far from intuitive. Instead of sliding the lever back until you reach the desired gear, you have to pull or push a number of times as it scrolls through the options.
The seats also proved something of an issue during our week-long test. Even though they offer adjustment in pretty much every direction, a number of testers struggled to get comfortable on long journeys.
Thankfully, one area of the Gran Coupe that didn’t divide opinion was the drivetrain. While the engine is based on the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel that appears in the 7 Series, in the 6 Series it offers 10bhp more. The car also features a newer transmission: an eight-speed auto borrowed from the 5 Series range.
Despite being such a mix and match, the 640d’s drivetrain works beautifully. With deep reserves of low-range pulling power and perfectly spaced ratios, the car punches out of corners with an eagerness that belies its 1,865kg kerbweight. Plus, the box has a manual function that allows shifts via a pair of neatly fashioned steering wheel paddles, and this ensured the BMW was the only car of our test trio that felt happy letting its driver make the choices.
Thanks to its 5 Series underpinnings, the Gran Coupe also delivers when it comes to driving dynamics. It strikes a fine balance between sportiness and refinement – soaking up surface imperfections without robbing the driver of feedback from the road surface. The front end is accurate and easy to place, while the car’s agility through twisting sections of tarmac speaks volumes for BMW’s chassis know-how.
But if we have a criticism of the Gran Coupe, it has to be value for money. With a basic price of £63,900, the 640d is the most expensive car in this test – it costs £1,766 more than the Panamera and £9,690 more than the CLS. Although the BMW does come with a generous kit list, it offers no more space or performance than its two rivals here. So while it’s an easy car to love, your devotion will be sorely tested when you’re asked to sign on the dotted line.
Chart position: 2
Why? Gran Coupe is BMW’s first attempt at a rival to the CLS. It looks classy, but this style comes at a price.