BMW 6 Series VS Maserati MC20
BMW 6 Series
- Heaps of space
- Feels plush
- Good standard equipment
- Feels big on the road
- A bit of a weird car, really
- Brilliant performance
- Clean, sporty looks
- Purity of design and purpose
- Lacks standard safety gear
- Luggage space precludes long road trips. One cupholder
- Scissor doors impede access for taller folk
BMW 6 Series
What happens when you struggle to sell an odd-bod, not-quite-a-coupe, sort-of-a-hatchback, almost-an-SUV model? Well, sometimes it gets axed, and replaced with a new model that bears a new name.
That's pretty much it in a nutshell for the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, which was formerly the 5 Series GT. It essentially takes the place of the 6 Series Gran Coupe - an alternative to the regular 5 Series sedan that's more attainable than a 7 Series limousine.
Confused? It's not as difficult as all that sounds - you just need to know that this model, the 2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, is supposed to offer a neat alternative to the go-to family luxury car or SUV.
I spent some time in the entry-level 630i to see if it can deliver on that promise. In fact, I spent more than 24 hours driving the BMW 6 Series GT over the past week, and I don't have a sore back, I haven't been left scratching my head over the intended purpose, I haven't been uncomfortable, and I haven't been left wanting for much.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
With Ferrari leaving the Fiat-Chrysler family and becoming an independent entity in 2016, Maserati was left without a technology partner.
Suddenly, the Trident brand had to go it alone and come up with its own engines for the first time in more than 20 years. The MC20 sports-car is the result of that rebirth.
While there’s no doubt the Maserati brand has the currency to pull this off, the MC20 is also a big step outside the company’s usual grand-tourer box.
The new coupe is aimed at McLaren, Porsche and even Ferrari buyers, so can the first true Maserati sports car since the MC12 of 2004 walk the walk? And let’s not forget that the MC12 was Ferrari Enzo-based…
No-compromise cars are often the ones that impose the most compromises, and in that sense, the MC20’s shattering on-paper performance means its greatest attributes can’t be enjoyed on a public road.
That’s why this review was conducted entirely on Philip Island’s 4.4km Grand Prix layout. As a result, we can’t tell you much about parking ease or highway fuel consumption. But as for the things that give a super-sports car its identity, read on.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
BMW 6 Series7.6/10
This isn't a car for everyone's tastes, but if you fit in to the buyer group that just doesn't really know what they want in a luxury car, it could be the perfect fit for your family. The 6 Series GT is a practical large prestige car, albeit one that will likely find very few buyers.
Would you consider a genre-bending car like the BMW 6 Series GT? Let us know in the comments section below.
With a 320km/h-plus top speed and the ability to get from rest to 100km/h in under three seconds, there’s no doubting the MC20 meets or exceeds its performance brief. But when you’re paying these prices, there must be more than just the measurable stuff going on.
And there is. The MC20 brings a big dollop of purity to the ranks of current supercars, doing away with all-wheel drive and hybrid tech and relying instead on and old-school approach in terms of handling and overall feel.
Anybody who wants to argue that call has plenty of alternatives to the MC20 from other manufacturers, and for some of us, that less-is-more thing will ring true.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.
BMW 6 Series7/10
There is no denying the 6 Series GT looks better than the old 5 Series GT. It isn't as frumpy, it looks more sporty, and to me it appears to have grown into its identity with more conviction than its predecessor.
That said, I don't necessarily like the look very much - it's a bit like a BMW X6 that has been rounded off a little and lowered down substantially. But I can appreciate some of the finer design aesthetics that it offers up: the frameless windows are a nice touch, and the swooping roofline looks smoother than a duck's back.
Other things like the active grille shutters and the air breathers ahead of the front doors are nice functional touches, and to my eye it lives up to BMW's hope of it looking "smooth but muscular". You can get the 630i with either the M Sport package, like you see here, or the more sedate Luxury Line, which is, well, more luxurious looking.
The M Sport styling and equipment package you see in the images here - with M aero kit and 19-inch wheels (ours had been upgraded to optional 20s) - help out with the athletic look of this very big vehicle.
It's huge in fact. The length of the 630i is 5091mm long, it measures 1902mm wide and sits at 1538mm tall, with a lengthy 3070mm wheelbase.
All that equates to a lot of room in the cabin, and what a sumptuous and delightful place it is to be - leather, wood and plush finishes abound.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the MC20’s design is that it’s so restrained. You won’t find wings, vents, fins and diffusers all over the car, but rather an overall shape that creates downforce, rather than that job falling to tacked on additions.
And, like any modern supercar worth its salt, the MC20 is based around a carbon-fibre tub for rigidity and low weight. From that tub structure are hung aluminium front and rear subframes which, in turn, mount the suspension and other mechanical bits.
The wind tunnel still got a huge workout in the car’s development, of course, but the aim was to integrate the downforce-inducing elements rather than having them demanding your optical attention.
As a result, the whole car is an upside-down wing, if you want to simplify it. But a very pretty upside-down wing.
This gives the MC20 a smooth, sleek look that stands it apart from the rent-a-racer crowd and supports the theory that sometimes, less is, indeed, more.
Some of the detailing is lovely, too. The vents cut into the Perspex rear windscreen form Maserati’s trademark trident shape, there’s lots of visible carbon-fibre inside the door jambs, there’s lashings of Alcantara inside and the two-tone body kit breaks up the shape perfectly.
Elements we’re not so sure about include the 'Park' button mounted way down low under the dashboard, and the swing-up, scissor-type doors, which, if your more than about 180cm tall, still require you to duck under them.
On the upside, the carbon-and-leather steering wheel with its integrated controls is gorgeous to hold and gaze at.
BMW 6 Series9/10
Now, I said before that this is a bit like an X6, but it has heaps better interior space than that SUV.
As soon as you slide into the driver's seat, you feel like your inside a large car. The cabin space is plentiful, and there's an abundance of storage on offer, too: there's a split-lid armrest between the seats, a pair of cupholders, a phone storage nook with wireless charging, and big door pockets with bottle holsters.
In the back you have access to door pockets, a flip-down armrest with cupholders (that middle part of the seat can fold down completely to allow storage of longer items), and there's excellent room on offer. How many seats in the BMW 6 Series GT? Five - like, five full-size seats.
Because the roofline doesn't rake as sharply as a four-door 'coupe', headroom is excellent for adults (even of the 183cm variety, like myself), and legroom and toe room are equally very good. This is bigger in the back than a 5 Series, but maybe not as plush as a 7 Series… so I guess it makes sense numerically for its nomenclature.
Of course you get climate control in the front (and in the rear if you option it), and the materials are excellent. The media screen is tablet-style, proudly displaying 10.25 inches of high-def real estate that is both touch-capacitive and controllable by way of the central rotary controller with touchpad. And get this - you can even use gestures to control certain elements like volume, swiping and changing tracks… but you have to option that.
The fully digital instrument display is bordered by a set of incomplete dial rings, which is just odd. BMW, back yourself - your buyers can handle just having a digital screen in front of them, particularly when it's as good as this one.
This grandiose hatchback's boot is commodious - with the back seats in place it has a huge 610 litres of cargo capacity, which extends to 1800L with the 40/20/40 seats folded down using the quick release levers in the boot area.
There is no spare wheel (the BMW range is fitted with run-flat tyres) but it does have a secondary hidden storage area under the boot floor for hiding items or stowing wet gear, bathers/swimmers or muddy clothes.
For context, the X6 has 580L seats up, 1525L seats down.
Although the MC20 has a front and rear luggage compartment, they’re both small enough to be pretty much useless. This is a shame, because as a long-weekend getaway car, the Maserati otherwise makes a strong case for itself.
The other area that suffers for the car’s art is the interior practicality. While the driving position is great and the pedals and wheel relationship is spot on, when it comes to storing anything, you’re on your own. Best the MC20 can offer is a single cupholder at the rear of the central tunnel.
The mid-engined layout also means there’s precious little vision through the back window. To counter that, Maserati has fitted the MC20 with an interior rear-view mirror that can act as a conventional mirror (you can still see only the engine) or as a screen for the rear-mounted camera.
The catch is the image projected to the 'mirror' lacks depth of field and forces the driver to refocus on the image rather than simply glance at it.
Price and features
BMW 6 Series6/10
The BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo range starts off with the model tested here, the 630i. It has a list price of $123,500 before on-road costs - and that's whether you buy the M Sport Line or the Luxury Line.
That's quite a lot of money. And while it has a lot of equipment to help justify the cost, the smarter dollars will probably find their way to a more affordable 5 Series.
Standard gear in this spec includes adaptive air suspension with multiple drive modes, a colour head-up display, semi-autonomous parking, adaptive cruise control with steering assistance, auto high-beam LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, DAB+ digital radio, a 16-speaker harman/kardon sound system, a 12.3-inch driver information screen and a 10.25-inch media display with sat nav, Bluetooth and 'BMW ConnectedDrive' online services.
Hey, you even get a panoramic sunroof as standard! Plus there are things like an active rear spoiler, two USB ports and four 12-volt outlets, leather trim, heated front electric seats, electric steering wheel adjustment, keyless entry, push-button start, and an automatic boot.
It also comes loaded with active safety assistance functions - we'll get to that in the safety section below.
Things it's missing at this price point? Well, heated seats are an option, but bundled nicely into the 'Comfort Package' ($3000) which was fitted to our car. The pack includes heated seats front and rear, quad-zone climate control, electric sunblinds for the rear side windows, and electric seat back adjustment. Oh, and BMW continues to gouge consumers $623 for Apple CarPlay (which seemingly didn't work in our car).
The only other 6 Series GT model available is the 640i xDrive, which is again available with the choice of M Sport or Luxury body styling. It's also pretty exxy, with a list price of $148,900, but gets a more performance-focused drivetrain, as well as extra equipment: essentially the Comfort package, plus vented front seats, interior fragrance (eight options), memory settings for the front seats, 20-inch wheels and metallic paint.
Plus the 640i has Sport+ settings - it's probably the wrong car for those - and 'Integral Active Steering' to couple with the all-wheel drive system.
Maserati has followed the lead of many a high-end carmaker by using the options list to ramp up the profitability of the MC20. Of course, that’s after the MSRP of $438,000 has been dealt with by your accountant.
The point is that you kind of need to suspend disbelief when it comes to supercars and their value-for-money credentials. By any sane, conventional measure, they’re seriously over-priced, but within its peer group, the Maserati is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive way to go this fast.
But back to those options: Again, it’s all a case of throwing away what you think you know, because there are several options for the Maserati that cost more than a good, brand-new hatchback.
The carbon-fibre engine cover alone will cost you a staggering $13,164, and according to Maserati management, it’s a popular option.
Then, there are the carbon-fibre brakes which not only cost $28,961, but if you want the yellow-painted calipers, that’ll be another $2962.
The hydraulic front-lifter which allows you to deal with driveways and speed humps is a monstrous $8721, but at least there’s some engineering in that. Unlike the black-roof option which is, er, a black roof at $10,202. And the external carbon-fibre kit? A cool $92,806!
Engine & trans
BMW 6 Series8/10
Under the bonnet of the 630i is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 190kW of power (at 6500rpm) and 400Nm of torque (from 1550-4400rpm). It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, and is rear-wheel drive.
That may not seem a lot considering the size of this machine, but consider that some of the steamiest four-cylinder hot hatches have nearly the same outputs, and you realise this engine offers up a far-from slouched approach to propulsion.
The 640i xDrive has a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine with 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque. It gets the same eight-speed auto, but as the xDrive naming indicates, it's all-wheel drive.
But this is the one you'd prefer if you want to hit highway speed in a hurry - the 0-100km/h claim is 5.3 seconds, where the 630i takes a full second longer (6.3sec) according to the company.
Previous generations of Maseratis borrowed Ferrari (both brands were once part of the extended Fiat Chrysler family) technology for their drivelines in a deal that allowed both brands to share the cost of development.
And since having a Ferrari-built engine in your car was never seen as a sale hindrance, it was a sweet deal for Maserati. But when Ferrari was spun off and became a publicly-owned company in 2016, Maserati’s supply of engines dried up.
The solution was to take engine design in-house and the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 in the MC20 is one of the first fruits of that.
While it’s undoubtedly a high-tech powerplant, in other respects it’s fairly conventional. Maserati, for instance, has a long history with the V6 layout, and there’s no hybrid element to the driveline. Nor is there a hybrid option.
Maserati claims the V6 is the world’s most powerful six-cylinder production-car engine and, with no less than 463kW at 7500rpm and 730Nm between 3000 and 5500rpm, that’s a credible statement.
Technical details that you won’t see on most road cars include a dry-sump lubrication system (where the engine oil lives in a remote tank rather than the hot sump of the engine itself) and a sophisticated fuel injection system with two injectors per cylinder.
The real trick, however, is an ignition system with two spark plugs per cylinder. There are also effectively two combustion chambers, the first ensuring multiple flame fronts to achieve a more complete burn of the fuel in the main combustion chamber.
The rest of the driveline is similarly aimed at the purists out there; the transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch, driving not all four wheels, but only the rears through a mechanical limited-slip differential.
Selectable drive modes from GT (the default setting) through to 'Wet', 'Sport', 'Corsa' (Track) and 'ESC Off' tailor the shift points, throttle sensitivity and suspension behaviour, but still allow for full engine power.
BMW 6 Series7/10
BMW claims fuel use of 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres, and you'll need to use 95RON premium unleaded when you fill up.
On my trip with the car, I saw about 9.0L/100km across mostly high-speed driving - some freeway, some highway, some country back road touring, and quite a bit of corners and city stuff thrown in as well. I think that's pretty respectable.
What wasn't so great was the lack of premium fuel in some of the 'away from civilisation' places on my route home. Keep that in mind if planning your own GT long-distance cruise.
Fuel economy is probably not going to be top of mind for most MC20 buyers, but the official combined figure of 11.6 litres per 100km is still pretty greedy by 2022 standards.
Balanced against the available performance, however, and an engine making more than 600 old-fashioned horsepower with that combined fuel-economy number is still cause to reflect on modern technology and efficiency.
The MC20 has a 60-litre fuel tank, making it a handy cross-country car for weekends away.
BMW 6 Series7/10
But if you're in BMW's target market - that being older executive buyers who want space and luxury as a priority over thrills at the wheel, you could do a lot worse.
That's because the 6 Series GT lopes along the highway without fuss - the engine easily coping with the demands of overtaking moves, the adjustable drive modes allowing a light steering and wafting suspension feel to wile away the kilometres.
There are 'Comfort' and 'Comfort Plus' modes, but the latter is a bit too spongy and can be boaty feeling. The Comfort setting is made for the highway.
If you decide to deviate from the straight sections, you'll be able to explore a little bit of dynamic range, especially when you dial up the 'Sport' mode, which changes the damper settings, steering weight, throttle and transmission response, and even the digital dials in front of the driver to a more aggressive look.
Our car had the 'Integral Active Steering' setting, which is a variable ratio steering system that includes rear steering - that essentially helps make is more turnable in corners at highway speed, and easier to park at lower speeds. It's difficult to say whether the assistance is excellent or not short of driving a car without the tech, but to this tester it was hard to hide the size and weight (1835kg kerb weight) of the vehicle.
That isn't to say it's clumsy or lumbering - it is actually pretty agile for its dimensions, though it makes a lot more sense on long drives and coastal cruises than it does in the narrow and twisty alpine roads of the Snowy Mountains Highway that I tested it on.
There's good grip from the tyres, and strong response from the powertrain - but if it were my money, and I had to have a 6 Series for whatever reason, I'd be looking towards the 640i model, which has a thumping six-cylinder with 250kW/450Nm - certainly an engine that would be more at home in this car. Plus that model comes with AWD.
Here’s where your half-a-million bucks has gone.
The MC20’s acceleration is absolutely shattering and is all the more amazing for the fact the car uses neither all-wheel drive grip nor hybrid torque to achieve its sprinting abilities.
While the V6 is not the most sonorous of powerplants, it does manage to sound high-end and pretty sophisticated and it’s never as shouty as some of its opposition which seem to confuse decibels with kiloWatts.
While the sheer thrust confirms the existence of two turbochargers, the lack of lag (or throttle delay) and the ability to charge into the rev limiter in the lower gears does not.
Even though power peaks at 6500rpm (as with many a modern turbo motor) the MC20 will happily smash on to the redline at 8000rpm; sometimes too happily if you don’t have your finger over the upshift paddle. As with other good modern turbocharged units, this one doesn’t actually feel overtly turbocharged.
See more on the MC20
The transmission shifts relatively smoothly in GT mode, but as you crank up the mode selector to Sport, the shifts become very fast with an accompanying jolt through the backrest as each gear clicks home. The shifting process is fairly foolproof, although you do get full over-ride, so you need to pay attention.
Both the cars we were able to sample at Philip Island were sporting the optional carbon-ceramic braking package, and one was also fitted with the optional 'birdcage' alloy wheels which are lighter.
Each of them needed a firm shove on the pedal to slow things down, but it’s true the lighter wheels seem to be worth their almost-$3000 ask as that car required less leg-pressure for the same result.
The lack of a hybrid element to the driveline, as well as the rear-drive layout, suggests a degree of purity of purpose in the car’s design. And that’s backed up by its behaviour in the first corner.
Fundamentally, instead of just hurling it at an apex and allowing the electronics to sort it all out for you, the Maserati requires a more 'classical' technique if it’s to really shine.
It doesn’t, for instance, reward trail-braking (where you continue to brake once you’ve turned into a corner) and would much prefer you get your braking over and done with before applying any meaningful steering lock.
Ignore this, and the rear weight bias of the mid-engined layout can see the car try to yaw, with the rear end becoming light and the vehicle over-rotating (which is a spin, to you and I).
Similarly, getting on the power before you’ve actually got the MC20 turned, can unload the front end and send the front wheels ploughing (ploughing is an exaggeration, but at the speeds we’re dealing with here, even a small degree is a big deal) towards the outside of the turn.
Ultimately, then, the technique becomes a text-book case of brake, turn and then power out, at which point the MC20 reveals itself to be huge fun and incredibly fast. The only thing to deal with then is the knowledge that whatever happens next is going to happen extremely quickly.
BMW 6 Series9/10
The BMW 6 Series GT range has a five-star Euro NCAP crash test score based on 2017 testing, but it hasn't been scored by ANCAP.
There's the usual array of airbags - dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver's knee airbags are included, plus parking sensors all around, and heaps of safety tech including the 'Driving Assistant Plus' package with lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking (AEB) front and rear, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.
That's all great stuff, and so is the 360-degree camera system with adaptive display - so, if you're reversing and you turn the wheel to one side, the image on screen will move, too. It'll also go between a birds-eye view and a backing-up perspective, and that can take some getting used to.
What was less convincing in terms of the user experience was the rear auto braking, which seemed to be scared of the car's own shadow. On multiple occasions the car jammed on the brakes when reversing out of driveways on to empty streets - be it in the normal height, or the raised height setting.
The 6 Series GT has dual ISOFIX anchor points and three top-tether points are there and ready for baby seats or child seats.
Neither ANCAP nor Euro NCAP have tested the MC20 for crash safety, so we can’t give it a star rating.
But the lack of standard safety gear such as rear-cross traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring (it’s optional at $2797) can’t go unmentioned. That’s especially concerning when you consider the mid-engined layout makes for very poor rear visibility.
BMW 6 Series8/10
BMW runs a condition-based servicing plan, which means the car will tell you when it needs servicing. But you can rest assured it won't (theoretically) cost you much, with the brand's 'Service Inclusive' pack. It covers you for basic maintenance as and when required for five years/80,000km. According to BMW, that includes "annual vehicle checks, oil changes, all filters, spark plugs and labour costs for the duration of the package".
BMW offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, and you get the same cover for roadside assistance.
High-end cars often disappoint on the details, and the Maserati is no different here, offering just a three-year factory warranty (albeit with unlimited kilometres).
That trails even the most humble commuter cars these days, and suggests there’s still a degree of indifference from some carmakers. And, possibly, their customers.
There is, however, the option of fixed-price servicing for the MC20 with the first three years’ worth of servicing costing $4000.
Scheduled services are every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.