2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo First Review
The project head for BMW's new 6 Series Gran Turismo, Claus-Otto Griebel, had one question that he and several of his colleagues found ways to ask us at the launch of the 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo: "Do you think it's a perfect car for long trips?" We were greeted by countless variations on this inquiry throughout the 4-door, 5-passenger hatchback's press introduction.
Herr Griebel need not have worried. While the new 6 Series Gran Turismo can't claim perfection (nothing really can besides the second season of Justified and Diet Peach Snapple), it successfully embodies the soul of a true GT car.
The place to be
As a sleeker, stretched-out replacement for the late, unlamented 5 Series Gran Turismo, the 640i xDrive GT looks the part of a muscular, coupe-profiled, Gitanes-smoking grand tourer, as comfortable on the boulevard as it is attacking the open stretches between Ingolstadt and Nice. In the cockpit, you get to ride about 2.4 inches higher than in a regular 6 Series, and you are surrounded by leather-wrapped sport seats (Nappa leather is optional, of course) and wood trim. The front seats are heated and multi-way power-adjustable including -- Ahhh! -- lumbar support as standard.
The 6 Series GT's comfort/support factor is high, both in the first row and the second, which has adequate knee room as long as somebody nicknamed "Stretch" isn't riding in the front seat ahead of you, and decent headroom. Our guess, 95 percent of you reading this will be comfortably accommodated in the aft seats. But honestly, it's always the driver who gets to steal the show and always has a sense of where the car is placed, even on narrow roads.
The powers that be
Like all German cars, the 640i xDrive GT doesn't really start to come into its own until you hit (high 2-digit number goes here) miles per hour. But even just tooling around town, the 6 Series GT's drivetrain--BMW's well-respected 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder blended with a buttery-smooth-shifting 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission--responds without fuss, sending 335 horsepower to all four wheels as needed (that's the "xDrive" part of the name: all-wheel drive, which is one of the best fine-weather/foul-weather stability enhancements you can have in an automobile). At low, medium and high speeds, it is the engine's 332 lb-ft of torque delivered on a pool-table-flat torque peak starting just off idle and stretching up to 5,200 rpm moves the 640i GT like liquid around slower traffic and up to, if needed (and legal), Autobahn-worthy speeds. Likewise, the BMW's steering and braking matched the responsive, though not jarring, nature of the GT.
Opt for performance
Among a raft of other option packages, all of the 640i xDrive Gran Turismos we drove at the introduction were equipped with two that we'd recommend to anybody who wants enthusiast status: the $1,250 M Sport Package (19-inch BMW M-spec wheels, extra aero and exterior trim pieces, an M Sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and upgrade-wood trim), and the performance kicker--BMW's Dynamic Handling Package.
Even at $4,100, the Dynamic Handling Package is a bargain. With it, you get Integral Active Steering in which the rear wheels turn in same/opposite phase with the fronts to optimize high- and low-speed stability. The package also includes Active Roll Stabilization, and Dynamic Damper Control with full front-and-rear air suspension. The standard suspension setup uses a self-leveling rear air suspension and a purely mechanical front suspension. The handling package also expands the 6 Series GT's standard Driving Dynamics Control to further enhance and individualize the suspension, steering, transmission shift points, and engine mapping characteristics depending on the driving mode (Sport/Comfort/Eco/Adaptive/Individual) the driver engages.
The standard wheel/tire package on the new 6 Series Gran Turismo features 19-inch light-alloy wheels wrapped in performance run-flat tires. A variety of optional 19- and 20-inch wheels are available.
Packaged for pleasure
While the driver gleans the benefits of the 2018 640i Gran Turismo's road dynamics, the passengers can engage in pleasant conversation or meditate in the monastic silence of the car's interior. For low-tech entertainment, there's the openness of the standard panoramic moonroof, and for higher-tech you can enjoy wireless smartphone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto), and use both Apple and Android calendars to use BMW Connected's personalized trip routing and notification services.
The secret weapon for the 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is its hatchback design. Beneath the power rear hatch, there exists a wide, flat 31-cubic-foot cargo area which expands to 65 cubic feet when the rear seats fold down at the touch of a button. BMW tells us that the 6 Series GT luggage-compartment volume is second only to the company's X5 SUV.
Well-equipped and arriving in early November, the BMW 640i GT starts at $70,695 including destination charges but before indulging in the many luxury and performance options/option packages. That price sits directly on top of the GT's direct competitor, the Audi A7, though it's apparent that BMW very consciously made its GT hatchback a little bigger in every dimension and a nudge more powerful vis a vis Audi's 340-horsepower base model. It even logs the 640i GT's 0-60-mph sprint time at 0.1 seconds quicker than Audi's stated time (5.1 versus 5.2). The clock starts now on how U.S. luxury buyers will welcome Bavaria's new grand tourer.