The flagship BMW 7 Series represents the very best the German automaker can muster. It’s a car that seriously cashed-up retirees aspire to or a car that the very well-heeled sit in the rear of. But despite its staggering proportions and level of luxury there are many who’d consider it a little too stuffy and lacking an exciting edge. Then of course there’s the 5 Series, another engineering marvel but one that blends in with the rest a little too readily. Cue the BMW 6 Series, a cooler, sexier and downright more appealing substitute. Chris Bowen has just spent a week in this twin-turbo Gran Coupe mammoth.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
Our test car was the 2015 BMW 650i Gran Coupe with the M Sport package. While you don’t need to be a gymnast, a level of flexibility is required to simply get inside. It’s far lower slung than a traditional sedan, if you can call it that. In fact the 6 Series more than most blurs the lines between sports car and Gran Coupe. It’s got four sizable doors and a fairly standard boot, yet that swooping roof line and hugely slanted rear window hint at more of an athletic prowler.
Up front space is more than enough, you get a great sense of sheer width and that feeling of driving something very substantial. The nose of the car goes on and on, with the passenger compartment pushed back as far as possible to realise the famous BMW equal weight distribution.
In the back the 6 Series Gran Coupe loses out to its book end siblings with an alleged 3 seats in truth only allowing for 2. The middle pew is narrow and the fact the rear air conditioning console juts right up to the seat results in zero leg room. The flattened roofline will also constrict anyone just over average height.
When it comes to the interior it’s a big wow, I tend to lean towards Audi as a benchmark when it comes to craftsmanship. But this offering is probably the best I’ve seen from BMW. The cream Nappa leather, aluminium hexagon trim finishes, lavish carpet and instrument panel, coated in leather, all combine to create a whirlpool of sheer first class extravagance. It’s a car that makes you feel pretty bloody good about life.
With all this splendour it simply makes sense to have a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 at your disposal. Deceptive by nature this incredibly powerful unit builds pace with such ease I doubt most will ever explore its full potential. The V8 rumble is suppressed somewhat, it’s not your typical screamer but plant the foot and you’ll be at highway speeds in well under 5 seconds, 4.6 in fact. Oh how I long for autobahns in Australia, dialling up 250km/h would be no problem.
The Gran Coupe mantra suggests decent handling and again BMW have delivered. Around town there’s no escaping the fact it’s a tick over five metres long, you know it has bulk and can sense the near two-tonne weight. But the steering is light enough for it to all shrink around you. At speed I found it to be one of the sharper examples around, it corners with unexpected precision and balance. The sports biased suspension is no doubt firm, low profile run flat tyres wrapped around 20’’ rims don’t produce a magic carpet ride. But that’s more to do with our second rate roads. Having a serious go reveals a stunningly well behaved drivers’ car, just typical BMW finesse.
Ins And Outs
The 650i is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 producing 330kW and an epic 650Nm. All that fun is sent through an 8-speed sport automatic. The now common stop/start function is the best I’ve encountered. The only real indication the engine has gone dead is seeing the tacho needle fall to zero and start up is just as seamless.
The no cost option M Sport package adds plenty of bling with 20’’ wheels, high-gloss shadow line exterior trim, Anthracite headliner, aluminium hexagonal trim, black brake callipers, enhanced exhaust, the M aerodynamics package, M door sill finishes and an M leather steering wheel.
The Tech Inside
This car is tech laden and most of it runs via the familiar BMW iDrive and panoramic 10.2’’ monitor. Under the ‘’ConnectedDrive’’ banner you score BMW apps, BMW Online, concierge services, internet functionality, real time traffic information, remote services and TeleServices. The later allows dealers to diagnose issues remotely and even provide a fix.
A raft of driver assist tech is deployed including a head-up display, high-beam assist, driving assistant plus, lane change warning, parking assist and surround view reversing camera – occasionally you even drive the car yourself! Adaptive LED headlights light up the road like no other, when combined with auto high-beam the 6 Series puts on a dazzling light show. Individual beams streak all over the road illuminating black spots while side-stepping oncoming cars.
Of course there’s also DAB+ radio, Harman / Kardon sound system and a TV tuner which is mostly useless unless you just have to watch snippets of The Bachelor at the lights. That was my wife by the way.
The Hip Pocket
I’m tipping you can’t afford this car, who can? Before on roads the BMW 6 Series 650i Gran Coupe tips the scales at $238,900. That’s before you add the $1000 for piano black interior trim, $1,100 for ceramic surrounds for controls and $3,200 for Nappa leather. BMW claim a combined fuel consumption of 8.8L/100km, I’m afraid I’ll have to call them out on that one and declare it impossible. The very best I could achieve using the fuel sipping ECO PRO mode was 13.8L/100km.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.
So this is indeed a special car. While the 5 and 7 Series positioned either side of it maintain that old soul type feel, the 6 remains youthful yet just as sophisticated and indulgent. It’s more about design than practicality in certain areas, but as an excitement machine it ticks many a box. I award the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.