The four-door coupe. It’s not an entirely new concept but this particular niche has become a tightly contested affair over the last few years with the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Porsche Panamera and Audi A7 Sportback all jostling for market share. So it comes as no surprise that BMW has now tapped into this sub-divisionwith its uber -luxurious 6 Series Gran Coupe – the company’s first foray into four-door coupe territory and the third model in the 6 Series range.
Aesthetically, from the trademark forward-leaning kidney grille to the Hofmeister Kink at the C-pillar, the Gran Coupe is identical to the 6 Series Coupe and Convertible. However, it sports a flatter and lower roofline, short front and rear overhangs and, naturally, four doors. Three exclusive matt paint finishes are also available: Frozen Bronze, Silver and Grey Metallic – all of which add further to the Gran Coupe’s exclusivity and each can be matched to Individual or M-Sport trim packages. Despite its visual ties with the two 6 Series models, the Gran Coupe rides on a different platform having a 113mm longer wheelbase to cater for the additional doors and to provide usable rear legroom.
Climb inside and you’ll enjoy a very well laid out and driver-focused cabin that comes laden with niceties such as tailored seats, fine leather and a multitude of soft-touch finishes that again can be customised depending on the chosen trim package. Although rear space isn’t as generous as in, say, a BMW 7 Series, the extra length and height offer adequate seating and comfort levels for up to three occupants.
Despite its bulk the GC is surprisingly agile and responds to every input from the chunky steering wheel. Selecting Sport or Sport+ mode transforms the car into a brutal machine, but it is best enjoyed in Comfort, the meekest of the selectable drivetrain and engine settings.
The launch route along national roads and through some of the Cape’s finest mountain passes confirmed just how good the chassis and suspension set-ups are at soaking up changes in road conditions. A 235kW/450Nm 640i petrol and a 230kW/630Nm 640d oil burner were made available, and despite the misleading nomenclature both cars are powered by 3.0-litre, straight-six, force-fed engines mated with eight-speed ZF transmissions with a lock-up clutch to maximise shift times.
Of the two models it was the 640d that stood out most, summoning its monstrous torque output to effortlessly glide up steep inclines and dismiss twisty topography with fervour. Performance figures for the two models are identical: 5.4sec 0-100kph and a 250kph limited top speed. The 640d is naturally the more frugal, sipping a claimed 5.5ℓ/100km over the combined cycle with a notably low emissions figure of 149g/km. Those with a penchant for performance will be pleased to know that later this year a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged 650i is to be launched, offering 330kW/650Nm and a 0-100kph sprint time of 4.6 seconds – that’s M-car territory.
Will the Gran Coupe sell? Well, it may in fact surprise segment stalwarts if current 6 Series sales are anything to go by. Since its launch, the 6 Series has sold 14501 vehicles worldwide, 320 of them in South Africa.