The 640i Gran Coupe is the Bavarian carmaker's answer to the highly successful Mercedes-Benz CLS, even if it is eight years late. The CLS is in its second generation, while the Audi A7 Sportback has been around for a couple of years.
On sale now for $194,872.08 drive away, the four-door 640i is about $6500 more than the two-door coupe version, but is $9500 less than the convertible. The V8 650i Gran Coupe is available from about $250K on road, then the M6 range-topping autobahn stormer next year. A diesel version is a possibility. The Gran Coupe also is targeting the far more expensive Maserati Quattroporte, Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide.
Standard equipment on even the most basic 640i includes a 10.2-inch screen for the BMW Professional satellite-navigation system, in-car internet and rear camera as well as tilt-only sunroof, head-up display, electric power steering, Dynamic Damper Control, adaptive LED headlights with cornering function, heated front seats, keyless entry and start, four-zone climate-control, a rear folding backrest, full-length rear-screen LED brake lights (a BMW first) and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The 1750kg 640i Gran Coupe is powered by the same 3.0-litre straight six as the Coupe and Convertible. Using direct-injection TwinPower Turbo twin-scroll forced induction, 235kW of power from 5800 to 6000rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1300 to 4500rpm are delivered to the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic Steptronic transmission. It reaches 100km/h in 5.4 seconds and the top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h.
The combined fuel consumption is 7.8 litres per 100km (7.9 if fitted with the optional 20-inch alloys) and carbon dioxide emissions average 182g/km. Colleagues achieved about 11.5 on the drive around the Far North. Fuel use is aided by the stop-start system at idle, regenerative braking and on-demand ancillary components.
Single-piston aluminium floating-calliper disc brakes (vented up front) bring the 640i to a quick stop, helped along by the usual suite of stability, traction and cornering controls, as well as BMW's Dynamic Brake Control, Dry Braking Function, a brake fading system and start-off assist systems. Steering is speed-sensitive electric power-assisted while the standard run-flat tyres are 245/40R19 up front and 275/35R19s at the back.
The Gran Coupe can seat five with a smaller person in the middle of the rear seat at a pinch. It's basically a stretched version of the 6 Series Coupe and Convertible, with the same nose and rear and a less raked A-pillar. It sits on a 2968mm wheelbase, 113mm longer than the other 6 Series models. The doors and bonnet are made from aluminium, but the roof is longer and flatter, as well as 24mm higher for better headroom.
It is 5007mm long, 102mm more than the 5 Series but 65mm less than 7 Series, 1894mm wide and 1392mm high, with extra dimensions to increasing rear seat legroom versus the two-door models. The rear backrest folds to increase boot volume from 460 litres (the same as the coupe) to 1265 litres. Apart from a different and cosetting centre console layout in an otherwise identical dashboard, the front half of the interior is shared with other 6 Series variants.
It's a slinky, low-slung car and fortunately there is lots of go with the show. The twin turbo straight six can lift its skirt and run with the best of them. Our speed limit of 100km/h comes up in a mere 5.4s and it will storm on to a limited 250km/h, if you dare.
Our drive program took us along the Bruce Highway to Gordonvale, up the Gillies Range, across the Tableland with a detour to my favourite section of Springmount Rd between Walkamin and Dimbulah and then to Mt Molloy and down the Rex Range to Port Douglas. The following day was a brief spin from Port Douglas to Cairns.
The Gran Coupe follows BMW's mantra as a dynamic driving machine and enjoyed being punted through the twisty bits on the Gillies, zipping around the curves as if on rails with great feel through the steering and plenty of surety in the brakes. The coupe wafts along at 100km/h with nary any noise from the silky smooth engine, some wind rustle courtesy of the big door mirrors but unfortunate road noise over coarse bitumen surfaces. The ride is firm but not unpleasant.
It lunged across the undulating and bendy Springmount Rd between Walkamin and Oaky Creek like a grippy rally car, powering out of the tight bends and providing loads of braking when required. Overtaking slower vehicles was a cinch as the bi-turbos whipped into a frenzy. The straight six emits a delicious growl when prodded but can be eerily quiet at 100 clicks.
I almost fell asleep as my co-driver took the wheel between Mareeba and Mt Molloy. Its roadholding and superb brakes came to the fore on the downhill leg of the Rex Range between Julatten and Mossman. Inside is a delight, a cosy cabin with lashings of leather and comfortable seats front and rear
BMW has done a great job at its first attempt of a four-door coupe even if they are a few yearslate but it's expensive. The GC provides a slinky alternative to the more humdrum 5 and 7 series Beamers. The 640i Gran Coupe continues the BMW tradition of a superb, powerful and addictive straight six power plant. It's more grand tourer than a sporty four-door coupe but having said that it also can be hurried through curves and bends with vigour. The Gran Coupe is all about style with substance.
BMW 640i Gran Coupe
Price: from $194,872 (for F12 model)
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl, 235kW/450Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, RWD
Thirst: 7.8L/100km, 181g/km CO2
Body: 5m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.4m (H)
Spare: None. Run-flats