[REVIEW] 2018 BMW 640i GT
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the BMW 6-Series GT.
In all seriousness, the new BMW 6-Series GT is neither a sedan, a crossover, or an SUV.
You may be wondering whether the 6 GT, which bears an immediate resemblance to the 5-Series, is just a stretched 5-Series. Or perhaps a shorter version of the flagship 7-Series. The answer is both. But as Aristotle said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The 640i Gran Turismo replaces the awkward ugly duckling that was the 5-Series Gran Turismo. That beast looked ungainly from almost every angle where as the 6 GT represents a quantum improvement in the looks department.
Is it as eye catching as the 4-Series or 6-Series Gran Coupé? Perhaps not, as it does look slightly awkward still from some angles largely due to how practical it is. But more on that later.
The 6 GT is built on not so much upon a shared BMW platform, but more so shared modular building blocks from a common vehicle architecture. This flexibility means that the front of the 6 GT is shared with the 7-Series and therefore, it can be optioned with either steel springs or air suspension.
However, the middle of the vehicle is shared with the 5-Series. As for the rear third of the 6 GT, it essentially sits on the same air suspension and rear axle set-up was previously unique to the 5-Series Touring (wagon).
Practical is as practical does
With a 120.9 inch wheelbase (same as a 750i), 74.9 inch width, and 200.9 inch length, the 640i GT rides taller than your average sedan and has an immensely practical hatchback design.
This liftgate opens up to reveal more room than even Volvo’s V90 station wagon; the BMW has 31 cu.ft behind the 2nd row whereas the V90 has only 26. Even Volvo’s XC60 crossover only offers 30 cu ft. The chasm of a cargo hold is flat and the power-operated aluminium liftgate has been cleverly designed so that the hydraulic rams do not impeding into the space.
This means that even with the seats up, there is room for four full-sized (46 inch) golf bags. Fold down the 2nd row seats and you have a vast 65 cu.ft of total cargo capacity.
Despite its bulk and its utility, the 6 GT is a BMW after all. And this means that it has been engineered and designed to have all of the latest modern conveniences and luxuries that customers expect.
The 6GT’s tall greenhouse may have compromised its exterior looks a little, but it pays dividends in passenger comfort in making the cabin feel airy. The seating position is mounted slightly higher off the floor than a 5-Series, and therefore there are oodles of legroom in the back. The 2nd row seatbacks are even powered for a more lounge-like experience to add to that generous rear leg and toe room. This is one car that truly prioritises rear seat comfort.
The seats themselves, particularly up front, are adjustable in a wide variety of directions, and are tremendously well shaped. My full-spec vehicle was even loaded with front massage seats and an ambient air scent system.
The 640i GT’s interior fittings and materials are what you would expect from the latest BMW 5-Series, but bumped up even slightly. The textures of the wood, leather, and metallic trim and are very nicely done indeed. The whole cockpit feels well crafted, expensive, and sumptuous.
Since BMWs are supposed to be drivers’ cars, you’d expect that the way that the techy stuff, such as the infotainment and vehicle systems, should interact seamlessly with the driver. And you would be right.
Featuring BMW’s latest Digital Cockpit, the driver is faced with a large digital instrumentation screen that gives the appearances of traditional BMW analogue, gauges, but re-interpreted for the full complement of modern safety gear such as the radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and a semi-autonomous lane keeping assist system.
The iDrive infotainment system is displayed on a fantastically clear and wide 10.3 inch touchscreen which can also be controlled with either gestures, or the iDrive control knob alongside the gearshift lever. Personally, I preferred using the iDrive controller as it prevented fingerprints from accumulating on the screen. As for the infotainment system itself, I think, that iDrive, now in its 7th iteration, is one of the best in the business. Despite the many layers of information available, it is logically laid out and relatively easy-to-learn after spending some time with it.
BMW’s intelligent traffic management system, aka traffic-aware GPS satellite navigation system, is excellent, and BMW’s latest ConnectedDrive system can even mine your smartphone’s diary for events, program them into the GPS system, and remind you when to leave home.
What’s it like on the road?
Compared to the previous 5-Series GT, the 6 GT’s tail is a significant 6 cm lower to the ground than before. To compensate for aerodynamics, there is an automatically rising boot spoiler when highway speeds are attained. The 6 GT will also lower itself automatically if equipped with the four wheel air suspension feature.
Unlike the closely related 7 Series, there is no carbon fibre on the vehicle’s structure, as that would’ve made it too expensive for the price point. However, to save weigh and to increase torsional rigidity, there is a high percentage of aluminium used. In fact, the 6 GT is 331 pounds lighter than the 5 GT. For example, the door skins are aluminium, and large aluminium castings were used for the hatchback’s frame and the main longitudinal members in the rear.
Fitted with the optional M Sport package, the 640i GT comes equipped with relatively meaty 245/45R-19 Pirelli P Zero RSC Run Flat tires. Despite its big wheels and fat tires, the air suspension transforms the ride into one that is remarkably refined and isolating. It’s a fantastic place to be for a long road trip, or during the stressful daily commute. Even more so than the equivalent BMW 540i sedan.
My fully loaded test vehicle was also equipped with BMW’s Integral Steering system and Executive Drive. BMW talk for four-wheel-steering, adaptive damping, and adaptive anti-roll respectively.
Once again exemplifying the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” mantra, this combination is a success. Despite its length and wheelbase, the four-wheel-steering system adds a noticeable degree of agility that can be felt in everyday driving, particularly when parking. In low speed manoeuvres, the rear wheels turn a few degrees in the opposite direction as the fronts. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts for increased stability.
Yes, you might be saying that your 1990’s era Honda Prelude could do this too. However, this system is computer-controlled and electrically assisted, so there are no complex hydraulic pumps to fail. However, because it is electrically assisted system, the system is light and rather numb, even in Sport Plus mode. It’s probably fine for the 6 GT’s target customer, but don’t expect M3 or M5 levels of feedback.
Under the hood is BMW’s ubiquitous but silky smooth 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine. With 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque peaking and plateauing at a ridiculously low 1,380 rpm all the way to 5,200 rpms, the result is great acceleration that occurs in almost near silence. 0-100 km/hr rockets by at around 5 seconds, and thanks to BMW’s xDrive full-time all-wheel-drive, there is no basically wheelspin at all.
Paired with the perfectly matched eight-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain’s manners in daily use are completely satisfying. Once again, even though there is nothing about the 640i GT that screams high performance, but all of the technology hidden under its aluminium skin results in the vehicle actually performing as a BMW should, even strictly when judging by the technical figures.
Is the 640i GT a higher class 5-Series or a bargain 7-Series? Really the answer is that it’s a little of column A and column B. But that’s what makes it so delightful.
This is a luxurious, tech-loaded, easy car to own, drive, and admire. It’s more comfortable than the 5-Series, cheaper than the 7-Series, and more versatile than most SUVs. There’s nothing else quite like it on the market combining immense handling with an immensely serene ride, and an immensely refined but yet practical interior for both passengers and cargo.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up the keys to the 640i GT, as it turns out, it grew to be one of my favourite BMWs I’ve driven in 2018.
So, if you’re in the market for something that is luxurious, comfortable for you and your friends but yet also little more distinctive, BMW has got you covered with the 640i GT.