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BMW 6 Series


Mercedes-Benz E63

Summary

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Mercedes-Benz E63

The faster you go, the less comfortable things become. Any race car will prove this theory, and the current C 63 S AMG also backs it up with its, shall we say, 'performance-focused' package. 

As you’d expect, its mighty E 63 S bigger brother is faster again. But surely it can’t afford to be less comfy than its C-Class sibling, particularly when it adds more than $80k to the sticker price and typically appeals to a more mature audience. 

And sure enough, it isn’t, but rather than simply becoming the larger equivalent of the C 63 S, the new fastest E-Class somehow has enough bandwidth to satisfy expectations of three-pointed-star luxury and boast more performance than any four-door AMG ever.

Oh, and it’s also all-wheel drive (AWD) for the first time in Australia. None of this seems to add up, so how have they done it?  

Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

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.


Mercedes-Benz E638.1/10

The new E 63 S is proof that you can be supercar quick without having to feel like you’re in a racecar all the time. 

It’s hard to find a single thing wrong with it once you’re past the near-quarter of a million dollar asking price, but even that’s more than 10 grand cheaper than before. 

The only thing I’d like to see is the wagon version in Australia, but not enough us want to buy one. 
In my opinion, it’s the best four-door AMG you can buy, and the new M5 will have to be pretty amazing to topple it.

Would you be happy to park an E 63 S in your garage, or would you wait to see how good the new M5 is? Tell us what you think in the comments below

Design

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.


Mercedes-Benz E638/10

Like the C 63 S, the easiest way to pick the E 63 S is by its bespoke front air dam, pumped front guards and the AMG-characteristic double-bulge bonnet. To the uneducated, it looks little more than an AMG-kitted lesser model, but is smartly distinguished from the regular body treatment.

No doubt a lot of $200k-plus performance sedan buyers would prefer it this way, instead of a giant rear wing and a bunch of extraneous vents to underline its supercar-like capabilities.

The wheels are unique to the E 63 S, with the 20-inch cross-spoke forged design measuring 9.5 inches wide up front and a full 10 inches at the rear. That’s as wide as Brocky’s Group C Torana A9X racer by the way, yet they snugly fit within the standard rear wheel arches.

The interior isn’t too far removed from a regular E-Class either - which is already a pretty swish place to be - but gets grippy, hard-backed 'Performance' seats, Alcantara grip sections and a straight-ahead marker added to the AMG steering wheel, plus a smattering of AMG logos. 

Practicality

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.


Mercedes-Benz E638/10

No supercar will ever be as easy to live with as the E 63 S, with the passenger-car requisite two cupholders front and rear with bottle holders in each door, ample legroom and headroom for rear-seat passengers, and a 40/20/40 split-fold back seat leading to a cavernous 540-litre boot.

The E 63 S’s Performance front seats do lose their map pockets, though.

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.


Mercedes-Benz E637/10

With a list price of $239,611, it’s more than 2.5 times the price of a base E200, but Mercedes boasts that it’s also more than $10,000 cheaper than the model it replaced in May 2017, with a lot more equipment fitted standard.

This still puts it $82,000 higher than a C 63 S sedan and $80,000 more than the quite-quick V6 E 43, and a full $30,000 more than the regular E 63 that joined the range in December. 

Whether the E 63 S’s extra fruit is worth it is up to you, but Mercedes expects most E 63 buyers will opt for the S.  

Its extensive list of standard kit helps to justify its ask somewhat, with the only concession for performance being the deletion of the PRE-SAFE Impulse Side system because of the more sculpted Performance seats. 

Our E 63 S was also optioned with $4200 worth of designo Selenite Grey magno matte paint, and the ceramic composite brakes signified by the gold calipers add a further $9900.

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.


Mercedes-Benz E639/10

The E 63 has also followed the C 63 in bucking the “no replacement for displacement” adage, dropping 1.5-litres over the model it replaced but gaining 20kW/50Nm for new totals of 450kW/850Nm.

This is thanks to an uprated version of the 4.0-litre twin turbo M177 V8, which is paired to a multi-plate clutch version of the excellent nine-speed auto for the first time. 

Fuel consumption

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.


Mercedes-Benz E638/10

This area is unlikely to be a top priority if you’re shopping for a $240k V8 performance saloon, but the E 63 S’s 9.3L/100km official combined fuel figure should catch your eye if it is. We experienced 11.6L/100km on test, which is pretty amazing given how tempting that throttle pedal is. 

Also helping to forgive this temptation is a bigger 80-litre fuel tank (20-litres more than the base E-Class) which promises a comfortable range between fills. 

Driving

BMW 6 Series7/10

I'll put this out there - if you like to drive, there are BMW models for less than this one that will put a much bigger smile on your face. Like, a 440i Gran Coupe, or even just a 330i sedan

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.


Mercedes-Benz E639/10

Push the start button and the ensuing rumble will annoy your neighbours if you leave for work early. This has come to be an AMG V8 trademark, but even with the exhaust button’s ability to liberate a few more decibels, it’s still a smidge more discreet than the C 63 S.

Not all AMG exhausts are created equal you see, with the E 63 S’s particular flavour sitting somewhere between the C and the SL tune, based on my recent experience.

What you’re left with is still up there with the industry best, with the range of tunes from angry burble to pops and cackles on overrun setting the scene well for the E63 S drive experience. 

Range is a key word when it comes to the E 63 S, with an incredible 0-100km/h claim of 3.4 seconds headlining the performance end of its personality. This is a full six tenths faster than the C 63 S sedan, and it feels every bit of it. 

It’s difficult to articulate just how fast this is, but bear in mind Ferrari’s mid-noughties F1 racer for the road, the Enzo, carried a 3.6 second claim. The E 63 S is 0.2s faster than that!

The AMG’s full 850 Newton metres are available from just 2500rpm (to 4500 for the record), making any prod of the accelerator very effective. 

The nine-speed auto doesn't fail to impress either, with fast and responsive shifts in the sportier drive modes, with none of the slow-speed lag or shunting and clunking you tend to get from some rivals' dual-clutch units

Helping all those Newtons get to the ground is the fully active AWD system, which has been set up to preserve the AMG-characteristic tailiness with a 31:69 default torque split front to rear. 

Controlling the apportioning of power side-to-side is an electronic rear-axle limited slip differential (as opposed to the regular E 63’s mechanical unit), and the net result will let the rear end hang loose just enough before the torque vectoring sends more power to the front to pull you back into line. 

Unlike pretty much every AWD system this side of a ute, the E 63 S is able to send 100 per cent of its power to the rear wheels when ‘Drift Mode’ is engaged, with Race selected from the drive menu. 

This also means deactivating the stability and traction control altogether, flicking the transmission to manual mode and pulling on the shift paddles, but in the interests of retaining employment and my general wellbeing, we’ll save Drift Mode for the race track. 

Another claim we’ll have to leave purely theoretical is that the speed limiter has been relaxed by 50km/h to permit a full 300! This is a large four-door sedan, remember. How very German.

The abundance of aluminium in the W213 E-Class shell has led to a feeling of lightness that I feel detracts from the classic E-Class ‘bank vault’ sensation in the lesser models, but this actually works in the E 63 S’s favour. 

At 1955kg, it’s a full 300kg heavier than the C 63 S sedan, but doesn’t really feel it. Granted, a lot of that weight would be down low, due to the AWD system, but it retains a general feeling of lightness and a willingness to change direction. 

Also helping are bespoke front suspension architecture for a wider track and more hardcore geometry, a unique steering column, and the S also gets hydraulic engine mounts that tighten up to sharpen feel in the more aggressive drive modes. 

Grip from the 265mm wide front tyres and 295mm rears is fantastic, but they will break away gently to give confidence when driving at the limit. This also makes a bit of tail wagging out of corners a lot less nerve-wracking. 

The ceramic composite brakes fitted to our car also do an excellent job of reighning in all that performance quickly and consistently, and unlike a lot of similar setups they don’t squeal when cold. 

Beyond this outstanding performance and driver appeal, the E 63 S’s trump card is its ability to return to regular E-Class luxury at the flick of a switch - back into Comfort mode. 

The airbag suspension is arguably what is most responsible for this duality, but it’s also a sign of all the mechanical components being developed together to work in harmony, with such a spectrum of ability being targeted from the get-go. This is not an E-Class with AMG mods, this is an E-Class that’s been designed to be an AMG from the beginning.

Adding a “but wait, there’s more” edge to the E 63 S’s drive experience is the fact that like all versions of the new E-Class, the active safety systems work together to enable Drive Pilot semi-autonomous driving, which represents Level 2 autonomy

This means you can drive down a motorway with only an occasional touch of the steering wheel as an input, and it will even change lanes if the indicators are activated. As amazing as they are, we recommend exercising great caution when using these features, however.

Safety

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.


Mercedes-Benz E639/10

Like all versions of the W213 E-Class, the E 63 S carries the maximum five-star ANCAP (tested 2016) and EuroNCAP safety ratings. A brilliantly integrated suite of active and passive safety features go well beyond its standard AEB, nine-airbag count, 360-degree parking cameras, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a pedestrian-protecting active bonnet.

The only slight compromise is the deletion of the PRE-SAFE Impulse Side system which moves the occupant away from a collision if a potential side impact is detected. 

This is because of the E 63 S’s standard “Performance” front seats, but the system is restored if the less sculpted “sport seats” are optioned through the Active Comfort package.

Ownership

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.


Mercedes-Benz E637/10

As with all Mercedes passenger cars, the E 63 S is covered by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Service intervals are either 12 months or 20,000km and the first three services are capped at $736, $1472 and $1472 respectively. 

This compares with $668/$1356/$1356 for the E 43, and 456/912/912 for a base E200, and the latter two models have 25,000km intervals.