2014 BMW 6 Gran Coupe

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You want one thing but – sigh – you need something else.'14 GC lead 2

Can the two be reconciled?

Certainly. It is simply a question of not expecting perfection.

Your spouse, for instance, probably doesn’t conform in every detail to your absolute ideal – but the package was (hopefully) worth the ring.

So also four-door (and four seat) “coupes” like the new BMW 6 Gran Coupe. It isn’t everything you’d want in a real coupe – it’s heavy, for openers and there’s no manual transmission option. And as a sedan, it has some liabilities, too – including room for just two passengers in the back and not much room for anything in its Miata-sized trunk.'14 GC interior shot

But it can carry more than two. It’s kid/family viable.

And yet it looks almost as unencumbered as the single guy coupes that went away with the arrival of the wife and kids, the need to be more sensible. This car is a socially viable way to be responsible and irresponsible at the same time. To indulge the devil inside in a more subtle way than going out and trading in the Taurus for a cherry red ’70 Firebird like Kevin Spacey did in American Beauty.AB pic

WHAT IT IS

The 6 Gran Coupe is (depending on your point of view) a more practical version of the 6 Series coupe – or a (much) sexier alternative to a 5 Series sedan – with which it shares most of its key dimensions, as well as its powertrains.

But not – alas – its price.'14 GC front quarter

While the 5 Series starts at $49,500 ($55,100 for a 535i) the 6 Series Gran Coupe begins at $77,600 for the turbo six-powered (and RWD) 640i and crests at $91,900 for a V-8 powered 650i with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Get liberal with the options and it’s not at all hard to cross over into the land of the six figures.

Remember that old saying about speed being a question of money… how fast do you want to go? Same principle here, except we’re talking style.

How good do you want to look?

There are only a handful of cars like this – the other two contenders being the Mercedes-Benz CLS550, which starts at $72,100 ($74,600 with 4-Matic all-wheel-drive) and the other being Porsche’s 4-seater 911, the Panamera – which starts at $78,100.

WHAT’S NEW'134 GC Xdrive detail

xDrive all-wheel-drive is now available with either of the Gran Coupe’s engines and the iDrive controller input has been modified to be more dummkopf proof.

WHAT’S GOOD

The practical supermodel.

Supple ride; makes-almost-anyone-a-Schumacher suspension.'14 GC back seat detail

Much more back seat room (two-plus inches more) than in Porsche Panamera.

Much more headroom in both rows than in the CLS550.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Ye gods, it’s pricey! $5,500 more to start than the Benz CLS – and the Benz comes standard with a 402 hp V-8 while the 6 Gran Coupe comes standard with a measly (for the money) 315 hp six.

Only about $1k less to start than the Porsche Panamera.

Purse-sized trunk. Just 13 cubes – vs. 15.3 in the CLS and 15.7 in the Panamera.

UNDER THE HOOD'14 GC 3.0 engine 2

The Gran Coupe’s engine lineup is identical to the 6 coupe’s – which means standard equipment is a 315 hp turbocharged in-line six (also the base engine in the 7 Series sedan) with a 445 hp turbo 4.4 liter V-8 available as an upgrade.

Both engines come standard with an eight-speed automatic and you can specify RWD or xDrive AWD with either. The drivetrain can be driver-tailored for more – or less – aggressiveness via four settings accessed via a button on the center console. These range from Sport Plus (traction/stability control dialed back, throttle tip-in made sharper, shift points made higher in the powerband) to Comfort Plus, which dials things back in the opposite direction.

Some reviewers have criticized the performance of the 3.0-equipped 640i Gran Coupe (zero to 60 takes about 5.7 seconds) especially in relation to the big-gunned Benz CLS550 – which comes standard with that twin-turbo’d, 402 hp V-8 (and which gets to 60 1 full second sooner) but on the other hand, the 3.0 Gran Coupe is right on par with the base-engined Porsche Panamera (3.6 liters, 310 hp and 0-60 in about 5.8 seconds).'14 GC 4.4 V-8 picture

The real problem for the BMW is not so much the performance of the 3.0 liter 640 as such; it is the performance you get for your dollar.

The CLS550 not only comes standard with a much stronger (and more prestigious) V-8 engine, it also – and here’s where it hurts – costs several thousand dollars less than the base-engined BMW.

Even when fitted with its upgrade V-8, the BMW is still almost half a second off the pace set by the CLS. And now you’re up to $88,900 (base price of the 650i) which is a hard-to-ignore $16,800 more than Benz charges for the CLS550.

On the other hand, Porsche wants $93,200 for the step-up 3.0 liter twin turbo’d V-6 Panamera – and $113,400 for the V-8 powered GTS.'14 GC shifter detail

Oddly – sadly, in my view – BMW has elected not to offer the superb diesel engine that’s available in the 5 Series. This engine produces a stupendous 413 ft.-lbs. of torque (vs. 330 for the standard 3 liter gas six) and delivers effortless, velvety thrust – especially off-idle and mid-range (with very long legs on top, too) and the capability to go more than 700 miles on a full tank (vs. 550 for the gas six). It would seem – to me – the ideal powerplant for a big GT, which is really what the GC is.

Maybe next year…

ON THE ROAD'14 GC road 1

Though the nomenclature says 6, the Gran Coupe has more in common – specifications-wise – with the 5 Series sedan, including an identical wheelbase (116.9 inches vs. 112.4 for the 6 Series coupe) but there are some subtle and significant differences – relative to both the 5 sedan and the 6 coupe – including a rear track (65.6 inches) that’s specific to the Gran Coupe.

Though it doesn’t look it, this is a fairly big (and more than fairly heavy) car – almost 4,200 pounds for the RWD 640i. That’s about 200 pounds, give or take, heavier than the 6 coupe and almost 400 pounds more than the 528i (3,814 lbs.)

But the weight is exceptionally well-managed. If anything, the heft of the Gran Coupe provides the quintessence of the gran touring ride – which is what this car is all about. Though not as nimble as the shorter-wheelbase 6 coupe, it compensates with the composure of the Parthenon. BMW dials up neutral – venturing to oversteer under duress – as opposed to the far more common idiot-proofing of early-onset understeer and frantic intervention of the traction/stability control that afflicts all too many other cars.'14 GC road 2

Very little fazes this car – not road dips, not off-camber corners. It glides serenely through everything, unperturbed.

It not only looks good, it makes you look good.

The additional 1.5 inches of rear track (relative to the 5 sedan; 65.6 inches vs. 64.1) is no doubt a major contributing factor that helps “plant” all that weight without the car feeling weighty. It’s exactly these qualities that have earned BMWs the appellation, Ultimate Driving Machines. That’s not copywriter crap. It’s the gospel truth. An ordinary driver becomes great in a BMW, if he’s willing to explore the car’s literally phenomenal tenacity and trust that its capabilities will – usually – more than compensate for his deficiencies.

Some testers have sniped at BMW’s electric-assisted power steering (this is becoming common industry-wide as a way to eke out some fuel efficiency gains relative to an engine-driven power steering system) but while feel may not be as mechanically telepathic as it once was, precision has not suffered. The car goes where pointed, exactly – no more or less.'14 GC road 3

The standard eight speed automatic can’t be faulted (well, I can’t fault it) but it would have been interesting had BMW put a manual on the roster – if only to annoy Porsche. One expects a Mercedes (let’s face it, the Trophy Wife car) to be automatic-only. But a Porsche? Yet, that’s the fact. The Panamera – regardless of engine – comes only with a seven speed automated manual. If BMW had put a third pedal in the Gran Coupe, it would have conferred sportier-than-thou status on the BMW relative to the Porsche -a finger in the eye for sure – and more to the point, it would have given buyers in search of a more interactive experience just one real choice rather their choice of any of the three.

AT THE CURBBMW - GranCoupe - 640i

Of the three main players in this segment, the Gran Coupe is – somewhat surprisingly – the most radically slick. My guess would have been the Porsche. But check the specs. The Gran Coupe rides lower – a full inch lower – than either the Panamera or the CLS550 and – here’s the one that really tells the tale – it’s almost three inches closer to the earth than a 5 series. Stand next to Gran Coupe and feel tall.

The car sits that low.

It gives the car the poised tension of a cat about to pounce on its prey. But – to my eye – it’s not over the top. The flanks are fluid, coherent – a tight-fitting ensemble. In contrast, the Benz’s pontooned rear quarters come off as borderline cartoonish and give the car a jacked-up pose that made me think of my high school ’78 Camaro with air shocks and its ass up too high and its nose too low.'14 GC door detail

The Panamera’s better, but the extended/fastback rear seems a little bulbous and disjointed to me. Not necessarily ugly. Just not beautiful.

Now, with just 5 inches of ground clearance (vs. 5.7 for the Porsche) you will probably want to be a bit more circumspect about approaching steep driveways – and curbs, as when pulling into a parking spot. Beauty always has its price.

And yet, the price is not so high as its rivals in several critical categories – headroom, for instance. The BMW gives you 40.6 inches of front seat headroom vs. 36.9 inches in the CLS – that’s almost four inches more clearance for your noggin.'14 GC dash shot

That’s the difference between viable – and not – at least for over-six-footers like me. The Gran Coupe manages to be both sexy and space efficient. Turns out it actually has slightly more headroom for the driver and front seat passenger than the 5 Series sedan – which, recall, stands almost three inches taller.

That’s a pretty impressive trick.

Like its rivals, the Gran Coupe is emphatically a four seater – emphasized by the extended center console that divides the two rear sport buckets. Legroom, though, is decent – 35.3 inches, only about an inch less than in the 5 Series sedan (36.1 inches), dead heat with the CLS (35 inches) and considerably more generous than in the Panamera, which offers a much tighter-squeeze 33.3 inches. The Porsche’s fastback-ish profile from the B pillar backward does provide class-leading backseat headroom, however: 38.2 inches vs. a duck and cover 36.1 inches in the Benz.'14 GC rear console

The BMW’s 37 inches slots in the middle.

All these cars are highly personal – and very intimate feeling.

Climb inside and the car envelops you – literally. The door panels roll upward, forming a cocoon around you and your passengers. Very un-sedan. And a very effective conjuring of coupe-ish ambiance. It’s easy to forget about those back seats – until you need them for something.

And then, of course, they’re there.'14 GC trunk 1

One thing that’s not there, unfortunately, is an adequate-sized trunk. There’s just a nub, really. It looks great from the outside, but when you pop that cute little caboose, you’ll be glad you do have those back seats (assuming you aren’t putting people back there). There’s just just 13 cubic feet of space to work with – vs. 15.3 in the Benz and 15.7 in the Porsche. Here’s a case in point of form taking precedence over function. The BMW is actually a bigger car overall than the Benz (197.2 inches long vs. 194.5 inches) yet the Benz has the bigger – and not by a little – trunk. I’m just speculating, but my bet is the design guys didn’t think it was worth elongating that perfectly tight, gym body little nub for the sake of a couple of suitcases.

Good for them. I’ll take a little less practicality over sheetmetal cellulite every time.

THE REST'14 GC sunroof pic

I was kind of surprised to find just a standard-length sunroof in my test car – rather than a full-length panorama roof. The glass is wider than typical, but it does not extend farther back than the B pillar. Ironically, it’s easier to find the super-stylish full-length glass roof on the options list of much less stylish cars.

You’d think it would be the opposite – but it’s not.

Also surprising: A heated steering wheel was not included in the as-it-sits base price tag of not far from $80k. BMW – and Benz and Porsche – should probably take note of the fact that amenities such as heated and cooled seats – and heated steering wheels – are becoming rather common in cars that cost literally half or less as much (check out some of the new Kias) and probably ought to be part of the standard equipment package in cars of this caliber rather than extra cost options.'14 GC M Sport pic

Kind of related to this: Be aware that unless you pony up for the M Sport package your Gran Coup’s top speed will be electronically limited to a figure well below what you probably – and rightfully – expect a car such as this to be capable of. It’s a tire issue, ostensibly. Non-M Sport Gran Coupes get an all-season (and not high-speed rated) 18-inch wheel/tire package, but springing for the M Sport uprates the rolling stock to 19 or 20 inches and more aggressive compound/high-speed tires. Thusly fitted, BMW loosens the leash a little – and the car is now capable of 155 MPH before the computer calls a halt to the illegalities.

You can custom-tailor the Gran Coupe with special-order paint, as well as via the Individual Composition Package, which includes dark tinted window trim, crushed suede headliner and your choice of piano black, white ash or sycamore wood trim.'14 GC last

If you order the Executive package, you’ll also get electronically-assisted soft-close doors, an ultra-premium audio system, power rear sunshade and manual control door shades. Other neat-o available features include infra-red night vision, an all-around camera system and automated park assist.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Nothing’s perfect in this world – even Marilyn had her mole. But sometimes, you get damn close.

This is one of those times.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  18 comments for “2014 BMW 6 Gran Coupe

  1. MikePizzo
    January 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Beautiful car. And I bet it even looks better in person.

    Just curious, what is the Gran Coup’s electronically limited top speed if you don’t opt for the M Sport Package?

    • eric
      January 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      It’s a stunner (I have a video – taken while I was in the throes of flu, so I’m a bit wobbly – but intend to post later).

      I think the limit varies from 115 to 135 depending on the tire package, etc. That’s my recollection, but will try to get the exact data from BMW.

    • eric
      January 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Just added the video… and, word is the standard car’s limited to 130 MPH.

      • MikePizzo
        January 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm

        Enjoyed the video. But do those roosters ever shut up? ;-)

        • eric
          January 17, 2014 at 7:34 pm

          Never! They crow at all hours, whenever the urge hits them.

          Glad you liked the video; I hardly remember making it. I was running a fever and felt like I was floating six inches off the ground…

  2. mikehell
    January 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Eric, I realize that it’s winter and that being a sick boy you had no use for this particular feature, but just in general do you find that cooled seats make a difference in comfort? I’ve only ever experienced heated seats so I’m wondering if the cooling is sufficient to reduce the need for A/C blowing from the dash. Know what I mean?

    Get well. Mike.

    • eric
      January 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Actually, yes.

      It’s one of those things you easily lived without . . . until you’ve had a car that has ‘em. Like heated seats. Or a heated steering wheel.

      On long-haul trips, for example. Getting some (cool) air down there is a definite comfort enhancer. Or when you’ve just come from the gym. Or when it’s just hot outside.

      Try it – you’ll like it!

      • mikehell
        January 17, 2014 at 6:40 pm

        I guess what I’m wondering is if a cooling system for the two front seats would be sufficiently comfortable to forgo installation of an in-dash system altogether. You know, just build the cheap, low end rides with only a seat cooler. Also, it seems like a seat system would be much more efficient to run since it doesn’t have to cool down a bunch of air, most of which is not even being “used” by the front-seat occupants. Dunno, just an idea.

      • Eightsouthman
        January 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        eric, one thing I loved on GM cars in the late sixties was a little register right under the steering wheel that blew at your crotch or wherever you pointed it but the whole point was to cool your crotch. That was a really great feature and all you had to do to prove that was get into a car without it on the same hot day you’d been enjoying it. I think it helped keep your beer cool too, cowboy cool, but nevertheless, cool.
        I might buy that car if I win the lotto…..or maybe lease a nice helo and avoid all those goons on the ground.

        • eric
          January 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm

          Hi Eight,

          Yeah, man – I remember! I grew up with those cars. In some ways, they were much more thoughtfully designed than modern cars. Airflow being one example. Visibility another. It is literally startling to realize how “closed in” modern cars are relative to what was typical in the ’60s/’70s. Door height was lower, A and B pillars were much thinner; the front and rear glass was also (typically) larger and more upright. You feel almost in the open in such a car vs. a modern car.

          And which is safer?

          I’ll take the one with better all-around visibility (the old car) because it’s the one less likely to get into a wreck – and if there’s no wreck, the roof’s ability to not crush (the “safety” advantage of all that got-damned metal in the new car) is irrelevant.

  3. Brandonjin
    January 17, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Sexy looking “coupe”, and gorgeous interior. I like the leather-stitched center-console that extends all the way to the back. So beyond even my ideal-future means though.

    What did you think about the Detroit auto show? See the Toyota FT1 concept? Looks a lot like our Supra, or maybe Celica successor. Kia GT4 Stinger? Cadillac ATS coupe? Three cars that seem to be pointing towards coupes being in again. That’s a future I look forward to! :)

  4. chiph
    January 17, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    The Mercedes CLS is one of very few Mercedes that does not look good in silver — the traditional German racing color. It looks far better in black, and in that color the oddly shaped quarter looks quite elegant. In that “You obviously don’t have enough money to appreciate this cars qualities” way.

    • eric
      January 17, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      I agree, Chip – about the silver.

      Usually, it’s a great color for a Benz. Not this time.

      I still prefer the BMW, but have to give a tip of the hat to Benz for giving the CLS a standard V-8 and doing it for less than BMW asks for the six-cylinder-powered Gran Coupe.

  5. Swamprat
    January 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Heated seats? Come on. I had them before on my Jag. I used them because they were there, but I never felt the need for those. Cooled seats? Come on.. What the hell is wrong with people in this country. I wouldn’t pay 5 cents for either option.

    • eric
      January 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Henry,

      Have you tried the massaging chairs in the new Jags?

      • Swamprat
        January 19, 2014 at 7:34 pm

        Lol. Not yet. I won’t step foot in a new Jag. I think that Ian Callum has turned the jaguar from a sexy cat to a 4 wheeled reptile. It began with the XF, which now looks good compared with what has become of the XJ. The XF looks like a Lexus ES350 on a good day and the XJ looks like something even a mother would hate.

  6. craig k.
    January 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I have a 14′ M6, special ordered it with a manual transmission. The thing is a monster, and a blast to drive with a manual tranny. I find DCT boring and not engaging. The thing pops to over 130 uber fast. It doesn’t feel like such a heavy car but it is.

    Eric I made my first contribution to your site, well worth it. Keep up the awesome work!

    • eric
      January 24, 2014 at 8:12 am

      Great car, Craig – and, thanks for the support!

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