The phrase “a beautiful BMW” is almost an oxymoron. Yes, BMW builds handsome cars. Yes, BMWs cars also have a purposeful look. Yes, BMW’s cars can credibly be classified as svelte. And yes, BMW’s cars certainly possess that indefinable characteristic known as presence. However, until now, no BMW ever built could be truly classified as beautiful. This is largely due to the fact BMW’s design language tends to emphasize function over form.
That said, while the functionality of the new BMW 640i Gran Coupe certainly informs its look, the car is also, from any angle of view, absolutely gorgeous. Long, low, lean and sleek, with a narrow greenhouse and a wide body, the BMW 640i Gran Coupe delights the eye with an arresting amalgam of fluidly graceful curves, retina-arresting surface details, and the sculptural quality of fine art. Based largely upon the new 2012 BMW 6 Series Coupe, the Gran Coupe’s appearance builds upon that car’s themes—while becoming a unique design all unto itself in the process.
Remarkably, the 6 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe are virtually identical from the B-pillar forward. Similarly, the Gran Coupe’s rear view reflects the character of its two-door sibling as well. Somehow though, adding two extra doors and a bit more length, while keeping the overall height the same as the 6 Series Coupe, translates into a singularly unique look for the 6 Series Gran Coupe.
Now before you think this new BMW is all about looks, rest assured the brand’s ultimate driving machine DNA is also solidly intact. Powered by BMW’s 315-hp, turbocharged 3.0–liter inline six-cylinder engine, the 640i Gran Coupe places 330 foot-pounds of torque at its driver’s disposal—which it routes to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Later this year, BMW’s twin-turbocharged V8 will make its Gran Coupe debut, endowing the lovely sedan with 450 hp. There will be an all-wheel drive iteration of the V8 powered car as well. No word yet on an M6 Gran Coupe, but given it’d be so easy for BMW to do; you can rest assured it’s in the works.
Given the 6 Series Gran Coupe bridges the worlds of luxury and sport in terms of its overall character, to ensure maximum flexibility, BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control allows the driver to choose from among five driving modes. Ranging from Eco-Pro through two Comfort modes to two Sport modes (culminating in Sport+), the 640i Gran Coupe can be programmed to deliver maximum fuel efficiency, exceptional comfort, or out and out roadability.
In our tests, we found the Comfort+ setting to be ideal for general cruising and touring. When the road got challenging with various twists and turns, we sampled the two sport settings and decided Sport+ delivered the most fun; with quicker steering, more urgent throttle response, and minimal body roll. Those seeking to maximize fuel economy can take advantage of the Eco-Pro mode, which retards throttle response to reduce fuel consumption and causes the transmission to seek the most fuel-efficient gear for a given set of driving circumstances. Fuel efficiency is also managed via BMW’s engine start/stop feature. This shuts the engine down at traffic signals to maximize fuel economy in city driving situations.
The interior treatment of the Gran Coupe is virtually identical to the new BMW 6 series, which is to say the layout is exceptional in terms of its intuitiveness, the materials employed are impressive in terms of their sumptuousness, and the overall comfort of the car is virtually unparalleled. Like all BMW models, this is an interior in which you can spend three to five hours driving at high speeds, arriving at your destination comfortably refreshed. Rear seat legroom is only a couple of notches above adequate though, so taller people will not be happy back there for long. However, the rear seatback split-folds 60/40 for additional cargo space.
Another feature we particularly appreciated was the optional Integral Active Steer system. This delivers quicker turn in, a smaller turning circle, and makes parking much easier. Integral Active Steer works by providing a variable steering ratio for the front wheels, while permitting the rear wheels to steer opposite to the fronts at low speed and in the same direction as the front wheels at high speeds. This makes the car slice through corners with minimal steering inputs, but still provides extraordinary stability at high speed. While hard-core enthusiasts will bemoan the relative lack of steering feel, the accuracy and responsiveness are superb.
The Dynamic Drive adaptive anti-sway system was fitted to our tester as well. This feature uses lockable roll bars to keep the Gran Coupe flat in corners, but releases them to improve ride quality in steady state situations. It works seamlessly and helped us hustle the Gran Coupe around corners with outstanding confidence and grip.
Slotting nicely into BMW’s sedan lineup between the 5 Series and the 7 Series, the 640i Gran Coupe combines the tidy size and driving dynamics of the 5 with the sumptuousness and style of the flagship 7. All in all, we feel the Gran Coupe is a positive addition to the Bavarian manufacturer’s lineup. Pricing starts at $76,895 for the 640, $87,395 for the 650 and $90,395 for the all-wheel drive 650i Gran Coupe xDrive.