2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe

2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe
Instrumented Test

“Four doors good, two doors bad.” So say German auto manufacturers with their Mercedes-Benz CLSs, Volkswagen CCs, and now BMW 6-series Gran Coupes. All of these so-called four-door coupes come in hauter sheetmetal than their sedan and coupe analogs, and the Gran Coupe, or GC, is no exception. It might even be the best-looking BMW, period.

A chimera of the 5- and 6-series, the Gran Coupe shares the 5er’s 116.9-inch wheelbase but is all 6er from the front bumper to the bottoms of the A-pillars, and it takes its front seats from the coupe. At 197.1 inches overall, it’s four inches longer than the 5-series and only 2.7 shorter than a standard-wheelbase 7-series.

The price for long, low looks and distinct design cues, such as an LED CHMSL that spans the top of the rear glass, is likely beyond the financial reach of the proletariat. The 640i GC (650i and 650i xDrive versions are coming soon) leads off at $76,895, a whopping $23,500 more than a base 535i. True, the Gran Coupe comes with more standard equipment, but it even starts pricier than both the 740i and the Porsche Panamera. With a high option count (but by no means loaded)—including an adjustable suspension, a leather dash, and the M Sport package—our test car topped $100,000. That’s a lot of money for what at first appears to be just a 535i in a made-to-measure suit.

What pygmies and cats see from the middle rear “seat.”

Besides its good looks, though, the Gran Coupe proves better to drive than the 5-series. It offers five chassis and drivetrain settings: eco pro, comfort plus, comfort, sport, and sport plus—all properly taut in compression and rebound and minus the marshmallowy highway float of the 5. If the new, softer 3-series has us wondering where BMW is headed, the Gran Coupe suggests that at least a few good Munichers still take the Ultimate Driving Machine tag line seriously. That said, the steering, as in the 5- and 6-series, is properly weighted and precise but vague in feedback, especially midcorner. Brake feel is excellent, though, and skidpad grip is sporty, at 0.89g.

The throttle is calibrated for immediate response, and the eight-speed transmission (the only available gearbox) shifts smoothly and quickly whether in automatic or DIY mode. Powered by BMW’s familiar twin- scroll, single-turbo inline-six making 315 horsepower, the 640i GC excels at midrange acceleration and pulls willingly right up to the 7250-rpm cutoff.

From a stop, this 6-series sedan is slightly slower than the latest 5-series six-cylinder. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.6 seconds versus 5.4 seconds in the 5. Fuel economy mimics the 535i’s, at 20 mpg city and 30 highway. We observed 14 mpg while constantly flooring the pedal through the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. In other words, our number is no more representative of real-world driving than is an EPA rating.

Included in a short list of complaints is a faint wind noise near the driver’s left ear in an otherwise hushed cabin, likely related to the frameless windows. And though the ride is generally compliant, thin 35-profile front tires on 20-inch wheels result in pothole-impact harshness that sends shudders all the way through your bones.

While the Gran Coupe may be late to the four-door-coupe party, it does arrive with one distinguishing feature: five seatbelts. Don’t be fooled by this. The middle rear seat can only accommodate passengers possessing either a wide stance or no legs since the center console extends all the way to the base of the back seat. Middle-seat legroom is nonexistent. BMW rightly calls this “four-plus-one” seating; it’s suitable only for a trust-fund-baby’s car seat.

That dummy chair reveals the truth of the 640i GC: More so than the CLS Benz and even the five-door Audi A7, the GC feels like an actual coupe rather than a beautifully tailored sedan. The elongated 6er is more engaging to drive than a 5-series; the A7, for example, feels much like the A6. Which is to say that though all four-door coupes look sporty, some are sportier than others.