By on November 8, 2012

What do you get when you add two doors to a 6-Series coupé? Last year the answer was: a 7-Series. Of course that was last year, now BMW has an all-new answer: the Gran Coupe. Of course, calling your latest sexy sedan a “coupé” is nothing new (Mercedes has done it since 2004), what is new is the process by which this “coupé” arrived. Normally manufacturers introduce a new sedan, then within a year they delete two doors, lop off some trunk, give it a sporty grille and launch it as a coupé and convertible. The 6-Series Gran Coupe (GC) on the other hand is what happens when you take a an expensive coupé and add doors. In BMW speak, this process created a four-door coupé. Confused yet? Allow me to explain: apparently all you have to do to create a coupé is remove the sashes from the windows. (This means that Subaru buyers have driven coupés all these years and didn’t know it.) Can the sexy 6-Series beat Mercedes at their own CLS game? Let’s find out.


BMW’s engineers started with the 6-Series coupé and stretched the body 4.4 inches and the wheelbase by 4.5 inches. They kept all the stretching work in the middle of the 6 meaning the bumper covers are interchangeable and the parts that were changed stay true to the sleek 6-Series profile. Of course, BMW’s 5, 6 and 7 are all brothers from the same mother, and logically the 6 is the middle child in many ways. The GC’s curb weight and exterior dimensions certainly slot between the 5 and 7, but 6 is all about the sexy profile.

Quibbles about door counts and naming conventions aside, there’s something about the proportions and low-slung style that set my loins on fire. I had feared the 6’s perfect two-door dimensions would be destroyed by the additional entry points, but I was wrong. After mulling the GC over for a while, I came to the conclusion that while it isn’t as sexy as a “real” coupé, it is more elegant and certainly better looking than the 5 or the 7.


While the 6-series’ imposing dashboard and low seating position (shared with the coupé and convertible) made me feel “small” (at 6-feet tall and 200lbs this is no easy task), it also serves to highlight BMW’s impeccable attention detail. I have a sneaking suspicion that the only reason BMW designed the dashboard and center console to meet the way they do is to show off their french seam precision. BMW borrowed the 10.2-inch iDrive screen from the 7 series, but instead of placing it in a binnacle of its own (as in the 5 and 7), the high-resolution LCD gets perched high on the dashboard in a prominent satin-nickel frame. This is easily the most luxurious and elegant cockpit BMW has ever made, and that includes the new 7-Series.

Our tester came with optional 24-way front thrones which contort in more ways than a Cirque du Soliel artist. Upgrading from the 10-way seats opens the door to ventilated anti-fatigue cushions which use air bladders to cut road-trip butt-fatigue. They work as advertised but the feeling of having your backside slowly groped takes some getting used to. Should faux-suede and snazzier leather be your thing, BMW would be happy to slather the ceiling in acres of Alcantara, broaden your hide palate by an extra 6 colors and toss in more exclusive wood for the princely sum of $8,300. It’s good to be king.

Rear seat room is the reason to buy a GC over the regular 6, but it’s also the reason to buy a 7. Of course the 6 and 7 have different missions with the 7 targeted as much to those that drive as those that are driven. In the GC there is no question the driver’s seat is for the guy that owns the car. That being said, rear seat room in the GC is surprising good compared with the CLS but, rear legroom lags behind the Audi. All three can swallow four adults in comfort, but the GC with its optional four-zone climate control and attention to detail in the back will make your rear passengers feel more special. What sets the GC apart is the middle rear seat. Yes, it’s a joke for adults with nowhere to put your legs and the hump is so exaggerated your shoulders hit the ceiling, but child seats fit perfectly and thanks to the wide body, it was possible (but not comfortable) to fit one child seat and two adults in the rear. Try that in a CLS or A7.

Infotainment & Gadgets

Like the coupé and convertible, the GC can be had with more gadgets than a Best Buy checkout isle. The gizmos range from radar cruise control, lane departure warning, self-parking and pre-collision warning systems that are becoming commonplace to the unique full-color heads up display and FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) camera system with pedestrian detection. Of course they are expensive, so if you love gadgets and can’t afford a six-figure car, don’t stop at the BMW dealer.

iDrive has come a long way since its introduction, and although complicated at times, it’s still the ultimate in-car attraction for my inner nerd. For some reason the latest version of the system (found in the new 3-Series) hasn’t found its way to the 6 yet. The key differences are improved integration with the heads up display and a media button on the iDrive controller reflecting the relative importance of CDs and media devices in this century. iDrive still offers one of the better iPod/USB device integration systems in the luxury market although no iDrive version sports voice commanding your iDevice music library ala Cadilla’s CUE or Lincoln’s SYNC. Like the rest of the BMW portfolio, you can add the $250 apps package to your GC allowing you to Tweet, Facebook, Wikipedia and SMS message while you drive. (For our in-depth look at iDrive, check out the video review above.) Compared to Audi’s MMI, iDrive lacks the Google satellite view mapping but the system is more responsive, more intuitive and more polished than MMI. I’d like to compare it to Mercedes’ COMAND system but that woud be like comparing the GC to the Model T.


Until BMW introduces an M version of the GC, there are two engines on offer. Both mills were both borrowed from the 7-Series rather than the 5-Series to help set the GC apart. The 640i GC uses BMW’s new “N55HP” 3.0L twin-scroll turbo inline-6 that has been tweaked from the “N55” engine in the 535i to deliver 315HP at 5,800RPM and 330lb-ft of twist from 1,200 to 5,000RPM, an increase of 15HP and 30lb-ft. Meanwhile, the 650i GC brings BMW’s 4.4L twin-turbo V8 to the party. Of course, as with the I6, the V8 has also had its power bumped to deliver 445HP and 480lb-ft of twist, an increase of 45HP and 30lb-ft over the 550i. Both engines are bolted to ZF’s 8-speed automatic and the 650i can be equipped with an optional $3,000 AWD system to help apply those 480 torques to the tarmac. If you opt for the fire-breathing V8, you’ll want that AWD option. Trust me. The ZF 8-speed is as up-shift happy in the GC as it is in the other BMW models and this does take a toll on spirited driving. On the up-side the 640i GC manages an EPA 20/30MPG score while the more powerful 650i GC somehow eeks out a 17/25MPG rating. During our week with the 640i GC we averaged the same 24MPG that BMW claims for the EPA combined MPG figure.


The last time I had a 535i on the track I was disappointed. In the relentless pursuit of creating the perfect Mercedes, the BMW felt nose heavy and lethargic, especially when driven back-to-back with the Lexus GS and the current Mercedes E350. Despite being heavier than the 535i and being closely related, the 640i GC was surprisingly neutral in the bends with a pleasant and predictable tail when your right foot gets happy. Of course expectation management is important, so you need to keep in mind the 6-Seies in any flavor is a quintessential GT car with grippy rubber, a heavy nose, soft suspension and plenty of shove. Because the GC leans more toward relaxed driving, the light and numb steering didn’t bother me much. Of course with electric power steering being all the rage among the luxury car set, everyone is this numb. The BMW however has two tricks up its svelte sleeve that compensate for the lack of feel in my mind: a self-parking system that will parallel-park your ride automagically and suspension tuning that can make this 4,200lb whale dance. In sport mode.

The GC proved a faithful companion in most driving situations with a glassy-smooth ride on the highway and roll-free corner carving in the mountains. If you want even more roll reduction BMW would be happy to sell 650i shoppers an active rear roll bar for $2,500. Into each life a little rain must fall and so it was with our week and the Gran Coupe. Driving in suburbia brings a questionable active suspension tuning choice to light: the rear suspension bottoms out easily in the softer “comfort” and “normal” modes. Driving at 20MPH over “road humps” or  “undulations” (not speed bumps) caused the suspension in the GC to bottom out, even when I was the only cargo on board. The 6-Series coupé suffers from this problem as well to a degree, but it required 4 passengers and some cargo before it is obvious. The GC however exhibited this unfortunate tendency across a wider variety of road types and situations. While not exactly a solution, simply putting the adaptive suspension system into “Sport” mode solved the complaint. (Admittedly sticking to the 15 MPH speed recommendation worked as well, but no other car I have tested in the last 2 years has had this problem.)

Suspension complaints will likely subside when you plant your foot on the throttle. 315HP motivating 4,200lbs may sound like a leisurely activity, but the 640i GC scooted to 60 in an impressive 5.3 seconds (1/10th faster than the A7) thanks to the torque plateau and the fast-shifting ZF transmission. If that’s not fast enough for you, the 650i burnt rubber while taking 4.4 seconds and the AWD 650i xDrive pounded out the same task in an eye-popping (and drama free) 4.1 (2/10ths faster than the CLS and very close to the CLS 63 AMG). Because our love/hate relationship continues with Porsche, a Panamera was unavailable for direct testing but based on some quick tests with dealer-provided Panameras, the 640i and 650i are a few tenths faster than the Panamera and Panamera S while the Panamera Turbo and Turbo S win awards for the most insane four-door coupés.

Why all this talk of Porsches? It would be easy to think BMW had the A7 and CLS in their sights when crafting the Gran Coupe. Until you see the price tag. The 640i starts at $76,000, $18,000 more than an A7. If that’s not sticker shock, consider that adding $32,000 of options takes surprisingly little effort. If you’re looking at the CLS 4MATIC or the Audi S7, then the 650i xDrive is a quasi-competitor but starting at $86,500 and ending north of $123,000, it’ll set you back $14,500-$32,000 more than a comparable CLS and $10,700-$34,000 more than an S7. With prices like this and one of the best interiors this side of Aston Martin it’s obvious that BMW had different competition in mind: the Panamera and beyond. For only $2,000 more, the Panamera delivers a nicer interior, a brand with more sporting pedigree and the option of even more powerful engines at the expense of looks. Seriously, saying the Panamera is less attractive from some angles is being kind. While it may sound crazy to call a BMW fitting competition for a Maserati or even the budget alternative to the Aston Martin Rapide, this is the new Mercedes we’re talking about. Just don’t call it a sedan.

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 5.3 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.75 Seconds @ 103 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 24.1 MPG


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48 Comments on “Review: 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe (Video)...”

  • avatar

    great review!

    I usually don’t like to be so negative, but as I have a lot of time to kill today…Ugh! This car does nothing for me. Can’t see any appeal. That Gran Coupe lettering by the way, belongs on a 70s car.

    • 0 avatar

      “That Gran Coupe lettering by the way, belongs on a 70s car.”


    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t like it either until I saw it in person on a freeway in El Paso. It looks like nothing else on the road. It looks VERY nice, and it looks more expensive than both the CLS and A7, and far more elegant than the Frankenporsche (which is a car I have a soft spot for).

      • 0 avatar

        Typical new German garbage that’s vastly overpriced, gimmicky, lacking in any new true innovation, a reliability nightmare & a literal flashing neon sign that says “owner has more brains than money.”

        Seriously, if I’m going to drive an expensive to maintain German car, make it one that was at least built like a Panzer tank, like the BMW or MBs of the mid 80s to early 90s.

        Germans are now attempting to make their cars so complex that only dealerships can do any work on the vehicles and the manufacturer can maintain monopoly pricing on parts.

        To add insult to injury, it takes 5x the amount time to do basic maintenance, like oil changes, fluid checks, etc. than on non-German vehicle.

        Screw that noise. A V6 Camry will nearly keep up with this monstrosity of a hideous beast, at any rate, and do it for 20% or 25% the price – and you won’t break down or be raped thrice annually.

      • 0 avatar

        @DW, I know you don’t exactly love German cars … but let’s be a bit more realistic here. Looking at the repair data on truedelta, the BMW 5-series is higher than the Camry, as expected, but for the past 10 model years every one bar 2003 and 2005 is under 1.0 repair trips per year. Worse than average, sure, but not a disaster in my book — or by historical standards. All cars are more reliable these days, including BMWs.

        And few cars are now designed for self-maintenance …

        All that said, the great thing is the number of different cars on the market, allowing all of us to make our own choices based on our own priorities. (And, no, the gran coupe is not on my list, either.)

      • 0 avatar

        Well DeadWeight, I dunno if it would be so bad to have a car that said I had more brains than money.


    • 0 avatar

      Alex, those pictures seem to be taken around the corner from my place in Woodside – near Cañada Road, if I am not mistaken? If I had know you were testing this car so close by, I would have happily brought over my CL 550 (a ‘real’ GT coupe in the old fashioned sense) for you to compare side by side. And a Panamera that my buddy down the street took delivery of mid-october.

      My CL is a few years old, and lacks the whizzbang infotainment nonsense, but it has everything I actually need, and to me it looks far more timelessly elegant than either the CLS or the 6GC. I do admit I have coveted a Maserati Granturismo, but then who hasn’t.

  • avatar

    I read the article first before looking at the pic’s with the plan the article would convince me that what I was going to see would appeal to my eyes, (afraid it was going to look goofy). My plan worked sorta. My distaste for the recent design language of Mercedes vehicle’s make me want to vomit, and this 640i only makes me want spit up flim. My fears of this jellybean (Mercedes) look spreading to other makes breaks my heart.

  • avatar

    So it sounds like the CLS is better to drive, much cheaper and let down only by its 20th century infotainment system.

    Is that about right?

    If so, this seems pretty disappointing for a vehicle this expensive …


    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The CLS is nice to drive, but the 6 is a close second. The 6 has a much better infotainment system, more gadgets and a much nicer interior. The CLS is oddly enough the bargain performance buy.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like to see a car company that had space on the dash for an iPhone or iPad so that you could upgrade your entertainment system every two years (every year if you really wanted to) instead of every 5-10 years.

        Right now I have an E-Class without navigation and I use my iPhone 5 with the much-berated iOS 6 Maps. They’ve been working great for me, and the user interface is definitely far superior to COMND. It would be nice to have a larger and brighter screen, though.

        On the other hand, I really love the Tesla Model S and its super-cool iPad-style infotainment system, so if I were buying a car in this price range that’s probably what I’d get. I never drive more than about 200 miles in a trip, so the Tesla’s obvious failings don’t really apply to me. In fact, going 150-odd miles for $6 worth of power instead of $25 worth of gas appeals enormously to me, especially if I could fuel up at a Tesla Supercharger station on the way … hey, if they have one on Lincoln Road, maybe I could park there while I had my lunch on SoBe? No rush on that charge, put me in the slow queue, might be an hour or two …

        (If you don’t catch the joke, finding decent parking in that neighborhood is a near impossibility …)


      • 0 avatar

        Consumer devices (such as the iDevices and Androids) do not guarantee availability or compatibility for the lifetime of the car’s system. A company such as BMW simply can’t take the risk that two years from now there are no devices to work with its infotainment system just because Apple had a new iDea and the iDevices stopped being compatible.

  • avatar

    I had to study the first picture carefully, I thought it was a mistake – the taillights looked like the rear of a Toyota Avalon.

  • avatar

    Ah, usual overweight, overpriced, overengineered trash from BMW. Nothing new here, move along.

    But for fun, take a look at the interior shot. Except for the seats it looks like it came out of a mid-grade Lexus that costs about half as much. Peer at that glove compartment door for a second. Is that cheap-looking plastic or what? Look at the huge gap on the right of it! I’ve seen Corollas with better fit and finish. This car should $40K, not $80K.

    • 0 avatar


      It’s not so much about superior German engineering anymore, as it is about building disposable garbage for the country club set.

      Driving through the city, I see quite a few new BMW’s. I see a few that are older than 5 or 6 years. Virtually zero that are 10 years or older. Until I go to the auto recycling place to pick up a switch or knob for my Nissan, that is. That’s a real nice place to get an appreciation of a BMW V-12, let me tell you.

      So what if they pass me on the freeway? I’ve seen where they all end up.

      I have to chime in on that awful checkerboard and gran coupe emblem as well. Just plain awful.

      • 0 avatar


        Or in this case, +85,000 to +120,000 wasted dollars on disposable garbage for the real housewives/househusbands of [insert incredibly superficial geographic region here].

  • avatar

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Yeah, it looks nice, but $120,000 nice? Every car buff I talk to speaks of it’s design like it’s the second coming. There is no denying that a 4-door anything that has a sub 5 second 0-60 time is fast indeed, and this isn’t even an overt performance model.

    At these prices however, I would much rather have a Maserati, even though they are a bit slower and have very few gadgets. On the plus side, No BMW turbocharged engine has ever sounded as glorious as a Maserati

    If I was on a budget, the A7 would be my choice, as long as it’s under warranty. The Mercedes just looks strange to my eye.

  • avatar

    Like the CLS, calling this a coupe is acceptable under the etymological – if not vernacular – definition. The French “couper” means “to cut”, and the roofline and profile certainly has been “cut” when compared to the 7-Series. Ditto the CLS when compared to the E- or S-Class.

    I have no more a problem with automakers calling four-doors “coupes” than I do with the British calling sedans “saloons” or Germans calling sedans “limousines” or the Chinese calling sedans “四门轿车.”

    Coupe is not somehow a special word that can only have one narrow definition, any more than “coach” can only mean a omnibus, and not an athletic instructor or trainer.

    • 0 avatar

      To note… there have also been two-door sedans…

      I’ve always held to the roofline definition of coupe. Like: if it’s got swoop, it’s a coupe.

      Getting harder to see it that way nowadays, since everyone is doing swoopy rooflines in search of aerodynamic benefit…

      I don’t know what the hell you’d call a Panamera… a Poop?

      • 0 avatar

        Swoop or no, I’ve always seen the only definition of a coupe being a two-door model, plain and simple. For fifty years Devilles never had anything you could call swoop, and yet there was a Coupe de Ville.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      It depends on how you look at it of course, SAE says it cannot be a coupe because of the large rear volume and has it classified as a sedan. Since we are in America, SAE’s definition would probably be the one to go with.

  • avatar

    White leather seats look fantastic new, but all it takes is one Rick James to track mud on them with his boots to make one regret opting for them.

    Yes, that is a Chappelle’s Show reference.

  • avatar

    Since when has “numb steering” become even remotely acceptable on a BMW? Give me a Panamera over this any day.

    Actually, just give me $120k in cash instead. I’d buy a barely-used E90 335i and use the leftover cash for something weird/awesome. Or maybe I’d just make some extra progress on the mortgage.

    • 0 avatar

      “Actually, just give me $120k in cash instead.”

      Ha ha ha! Mom always said that when given a choice, ALWAYS take the money!

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      David. It has become acceptable since even the Panamera has numb steering.

      • 0 avatar

        Really? I thought that it was considered to be the best-driving of the luxobarges. Perhaps that isn’t saying much anymore. Either way, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow Porsche reviews closely.

        With all the bizarre line extensions and “new segments” that car-makers are continually spewing forth, I wonder if it would really be so unprofitable to make an MX-5 sedan. I mean, what are you supposed to do these days if you want to carry four grownups in a car that you can always enjoy–even if just driving at 6/10ths? Some friends of mine recently tested a BMW F30 and E90 back-to-back, and they reported that the F30’s steering just doesn’t compare.

    • 0 avatar

      It seems most new models with electric power steering have numb steering.

      • 0 avatar

        Reputedly Audi’s new electromechanical steering (as found in the new facelifted S4 and S5) has better feel than the old hydraulic power steering.

        I haven’t driven one, though.

  • avatar

    “Of course, calling your latest sexy sedan a “coupé” is nothing new (Mercedes has done it since 2004)”

    This is akin to the old addage “If X jumped off a bridge, will you be the next to follow?”.

    So BMW, if they move all their production to the US and invite UAW to represent their workers, will you follow suit? Calling a sleek sedan a coupe is just ridiculous IMO, who the hell wants two extra doors they don’t need or won’t use on their 100K “coupe”? Conventional sedans aren’t even big enough to comfortably seat rear passengers, so now you think buyers want to ask potential passengers to contort themselves to fit in your 2+2-esque configured sedan?

    A true coupe stands out of a crowd of sedans/wagons/suvs, its one of the reasons people want to buy them.

  • avatar

    I still can’t grasp the price point BMW is trying to set for this car. Sure the car looks good and is something “special” compared to the 5 series. But that is also already a very attractive car in its current form and would cost around 29k (!!) Euros less with a comparable engine.

    Even the CLS would cost 15k Euros less than the Gran Coupé and would have the benefit of atleast looking way different from the E-Class.

    All things considered, I can’t wait to see the first sales numbers for this thing.

  • avatar

    Throttle response: Standard or optional?

  • avatar

    I saw one of these last night (was hard to miss in the first handicapped spot at the restaurant) and I was greatly saddened not to be able to see who drove home in it. I think the design is good; not fantastic, but solid. But I am convinced they are only available in white… At least the interior is gorgeous.

    The standard 6 (both topless and coupe flavors) is a crazy low sales car from the inventory and promotion I’ve seen from BMW in the last few years. This feels suspiciously like an 8-series project that got cut off in the quick and downgraded. And its priiiiiiiiicy.

    I don’t know if I get the market – aspirational 7-series leasers who can get a sweetheart deal from their local BMW dealers to keep them from jumping to something Maserati-ish? The comparo is likely more Panamera/Quattroporte/6-GC than CLS/A7, and that’s a weird crowd to chase. I just don’t know if the set that gets a new 7 every 3 years is going to go for this, even though 10 years have passed since they were shocked out of their elasticated wastebands by the e65/66 7.

  • avatar

    Wow, an e38 Sport looks better, drives better, has a V8 and can be had for 10% the price of this car.

  • avatar

    Any BMW review that spends more time talking about and spilling praise on the interior craftsmanship and infotainment than the driving experience is a BMW fail. Once again, so much for the Ultimate Driving Machine.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Give me an e28 with the so-called “austere” interior and you can keep all of the idiotic iPhone integration crapola. Frankly the video review was painful– anyone who cares more about the infotainment system than the car itself is someone who really doesn’t car about cars.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. I had a 2002 for 30 years and decided that the ONLY advance in cars was in the radio (of course I upgraded easily). My 87 535iS was great. Wife said it was too old. Have a 94 530i 5sp and I am not letting go of this one. Market pressure(Lexus) was on for BMW to soften them, but I upgraded the suspension to get that real Bimmer feel back. Still, the e34 was 700 lbs more than the old e28. Lighter cars are usually more fun, period.

  • avatar

    Not really feeling the styling overall – it’s just a sort of smooshed 5er+7er. Interior looks pretty good, though.

    REALLY can’t understand the pricing – there’s no justification for the huge premium over the CLS and A7/S7, IMO.

  • avatar

    I hate the separate reflectors under the rear lights.

    this car is similarly overpriced in NZ too….

    Audi s7 nzd167000
    Audi s8 nzd218000
    jag xfr nzd160000
    cls500 nzd197000 (though cls63 277000)
    BMW 650 gc nzd225000

  • avatar

    Do you guys remember when BMW had nice engine covers?

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    BMW 640-Oy! Way too many side creases. The Porsche Panamera,no side creases whatsoever. All the Mayans asked for was for a little balance and restraint.Now its almost 12/21/2012.I hope everyone’s satisfied.

  • avatar

    ‘calling your latest sexy sedan a “coupé” is nothing new’

    Hey, never mind Benz! Rover started it decades earlier (1962) with the launch of the P5 Mk II coupé.

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