The market for four-door coupes continues to expand across markets as consumers opt for sportier luxury vehicles. India hasn’t been a great market for such cars in terms of generating numbers, but the presence of such cars does add a lot to the overall brand image. BMW has been a little late in entering this segment as both Mercedes and Audi have had their vehicles in the segment for some time now. Would the late entry translate into any shortcomings or has BMW been able to get the formula right? We found out by putting the Gran Coupe through an extensive drive cycle.
The Audi A7 is based on the A6, Mercedes CLS 350 is based on the E-Class and now the 6 Series is based on BMW’s 5 Series platform. Essentially, the formula for a four-door coupe has been similar for all three German carmakers – a restyled and better equipped model based on a lower segment. By no means though, that comes across as a negative for the Gran Coupe. While the 5 Series looks sublime and subtle, the 6 Series looks stunning and eye-catching from every angle.
The key visual difference between the Coupe and Gran Coupe is the length and the extra pair of doors at the rear. The front doors are shorter than the two door version in order to accommodate the rear doors. The extra length doesn’t affect the side profile in any negative way and to us the level of grandeur the Gran Coupe exudes is unmatched in its body-style segment.
The low roofline, long hood, large air intakes and the wide-looking (and actually wide) body give a combined effect of a proper GT car. Overall, the road presence is commanding and the 6 Series successfully reflects all brand characteristics, associated with BMW.
Our test car was equipped with a 3 l in-line six cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo technology. The engine develops 313 hp and 630 Nm of torque, all of which will push you into the seat, the moment one’s aggressive with the throttle. The two-stage turbocharging plays an important role in eliminating turbo lag.
At low engine speeds, the smaller turbo is active and owing to requirement of lesser force due to small size, there is hardly any turbo lag. The compressed air from this unit is transferred directly into the cylinder through a bypass line. Since the air no longer flows through the larger turbo, charge air-pressure loss is curtailed, thereby aiding efficiency. The larger turbo is activated only when there is requirement for more induction than is being supplied by the smaller turbo. In order to increase the efficiency of the larger turbo, it makes use of a water-cooling system, a first for the company.
At slow speed, the car behaves almost like a completely luxury-oriented car, making it a car that can be used daily with ease. The Gran Coupe though comes into its character only when driven at high speeds at long stretches. The engine’s power is felt at the slightest of aggressiveness, and the eight-speed transmission is a smooth and quick unit and responds well to throttle inputs. Although downshifts could’ve been a tad quicker, taking control of the paddles makes the experience more engaging and rewarding.
Using a handheld GPS device, we were able to get a best 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 6.6 s and an on-board computer indicated fuel-efficiency of 12.3 km/l. In a nutshell, the Gran Coupe’s engine is impressive in every manner, so much so that even at high revs, one gets to listen to a deep growl instead of the diesel clutter. The engine pulls through its rev range effortlessly and lag is almost non-existent. For the excitement, one gets from this engine, the kind of fuel-efficiency it delivers is almost a perfect balance between two opposing forces – power & efficiency. Also, bear in mind that with a 70 l tank, this car can travel well over 800 km on open highways, making it a proper GT car from almost every perspective.
The Gran Coupe doesn’t stop to amaze one with its brilliant powertrain and continues to surprise with its equally brilliant dynamics. Considering the length of this car, the way it handles can be believed only by experiencing it. The car quite expectedly handles straights with ease, even at speeds beyond 200 km/h. The ease with which it goes over curves is what amazed us the most and reaffirmed BMW’s strength in the area of handling.
The Gran Coupe is not a thorough-bred sports car but even good drivers will find it hard to put it in a hard-to-manage spot. Till the time one respects the fact that this is a GT car and tackles it accordingly, the Gran Coupe is a rewarding vehicle to drive for every second one spends behind the wheel.
The reason for such agility in a car of such large dimensions is largely the lightweight suspension, mostly made from aluminium. In Comfort and Comfort+ mode, the suspension is quite soft and absorbent but should be used only in city conditions as body roll is evident in these modes. Sports and Sports+ modes are the best for spirited driving, with the Sport+ allowing for some tail flicking as the traction control’s intervention becomes limited.
The electric steering is direct and precise and feedback is good but not as found in some of the older BMWs with hydraulic units. Turn-ins are accurate and despite the long front, there’s not much understeer. The responsive steering completes the package, for a driver-focussed car.
Our test car was the Individual edition, which meant it had a fair amount of extra luxuries that can be opted for. The cabin is a perfect match of sportiness and class without going over the top with any elements. The design layout and colour options complement each other well, adding further to the cabin appeal.
Control layout and material quality didn’t give us any reason to raise a question, whatsoever, and the effect of the ambient lighting system in the night was impressive. The front seats are very comfortable and provide good support on all ends.
While we’ve been all praises for the Gran Coupe, it does have some shortcomings and those begin at the rear doors. While ingress and egress is easier than the Coupe, the Gran Coupe is still not the easiest car to get into the back of. One will still need to make some awkward body angles to get into it or get out of it. However, once inside, things become rosier again. While from the outside, the low roofline might suggest less headroom, there’s actually sufficient amount of it, even if you’re about 6 ft tall. The thigh support though is somewhat less but the adequate legroom does compensate to an extent.
The 6 Series Gran Coupe is a brilliant car with well-sorted dynamics, an excellent engine, luxurious cabin and a red carpet styling. At almost Rs 90 lakh, ex-showroom, India, the Gran Coupe is significantly more expensive than the 5 Series it’s based on and just about Rs 10 lakh short of the company’s flagship 7 Series. That, however, doesn’t take away a bit from the excitement the Gran Coupe delivers even when parked.
The 6 Series Gran Coupe is a car for those who’re keen on having a great car to drive without compromising on any luxuries or opulence. For what it offers in styling, performance, luxury and dynamics, we’re hard pressed to believe that the 6 Series Gran Coupe is actually great value for money for those few people looking for a GT experience.
Text: Arpit Mahendra
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay