With BMW’s numbering scheme having gone a bit doo-lally over the past few years it’s hard to know what’s what unless you’ve done your research. The 6 Series nameplate was plastered on the rump of a questionable-looking GT over a decade ago and is now also to be found on the rear of a four-door coupe.
Uh-huh. Doesn’t really matter, though, because once you’ve waded through the explanatory notes and found the 6 Series Gran Coupe, you’re in for a treat. A beautiful BMW with impeccable manners and stealthy grace.
$238,900. That’s your starting point. If that hasn’t reduced your gizzards to goo, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a long list of standard equipment.
Here are the edited highlights:
You’ll get adaptive drive and dampers, cruise control, a range of connected applications, heads-up display, auto-parking, rear-view and 360-degree cameras, adaptive LED headlights, sunroof, auto headlights and wipers, sun blinds for the rear windows, soft-close doors, keyless entry and start, Harmon Kardon surround sound, floor mats, leather everywhere, sat-nav, heated/ventilated electric front seats.
It manages to look hefty but without the usual downsides associated with size
Our car also had $1000 of piano black interior trim, $1100 for ceramic control surrounds and $3200 of lovely Nappa leather.
The 6 Gran Coupe looks like no other BMW. Interestingly, around the back end there are shades of Chris Bangle in the way the boot is shaped, but the rest follows the philosophy of the 4 Series Gran Coupe – svelte, pretty, desirable.
It manages to look hefty but without the usual downsides associated with size – it isn’t Aston Martin Rapide elegant but it looks right.
Inside there’s a fat central section that arcs up to the dash which houses digital dials that would be cool if there wasn’t already a heads-up display. The dials change colour and content depending on the driving mode but there’s something not quite right about them – the standard BMW clocks would have done fine here.
The Playstation-like M Sport display almost looks lost
As it’s a Coupe, the 650i gets away with having marginal head and leg room in the back. The seats are comfortable enough in both rows but rear seat passengers are a little short-changed, the big front seats robbing toe room. The boot, however, is gigantic.
Six airbags, traction and stability controls, brake control and what BMW calls Active Protection, lane departure warning, blind spot detection.
The gigantic 10.2 inch screen stretches over what seems like a third of the ample dashpad, making BMW’s split-screen iDrive almost cinematic. The sat-nav and stereo can sit side-by-side without looking cramped and the Playstation-like M Sport display almost looks lost.
The Harmon Kardon stereo is a belter (predictably) and also sports DAB+ and digital TV receiver.
The 50i denotes the presence of a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 under that never-ending bonnet. The same unit is found in a number of big fast BMWs and in this case generates 330kW, and 650Nm of torque.
With the aid of ZF’s eight-speed transmission, stop start and regenerative braking, BMW claims a combined cycle of 8.8L/100km which I feel is virtually impossible. When careful and with a good chunk of highway time, we got 11L/100km but before the long run we were in the mid 13s.
Acceleration is swift, dispatching the run to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds.
You’re always aware that the Gran Coupe is a big car – it feels big from the driver’s seat which itself is big and comfortable and the low, wide feel of the cabin fools you into thinking you’re in something more Rolls-Royce sized than a slightly bigger 5 Series.
The cabin is extremely quiet, even with those whacking great tyres
It has a huge presence but never feels unwieldy. The steering is well weighted but coupled with the size can make the car feel a bit heavy. That melts away as soon as you sink the pedal into the carpet. Unlike other cars so-equipped, you barely hear the engine, but you can certainly feel it, all that power and torque slinging you down the road at an unseemly clip.
It’s a cocooned experience, with high-speed composure bettered only by machines with even loftier price tags. Barrelling down the freeway, the DRLs help clear your path (with the usual, inattentive exceptions) and the huge power means you’re never in any danger of being stuck behind a slow-mover for long.
It’s an outstanding grand tourer – an impromptu trip to Katoomba up the M4 was dispatched with indifference, both car and occupants unfussed by the long distance. The cabin is extremely quiet, even with those whacking great tyres (245 at the front, 275 at the rear) wrapped around 20-inch wheels.
The ride isn’t quite magic carpet smooth, but the adaptive damping cushions all but the worst of it. It’s almost a crime to put it into Sport as the ride stiffens up and it seems somehow out of character.