2018 BMW 640i xDrive GT: Niche, but nice

Posted by Wheels On Edge about 10 months ago
The 6-series is dead. Long live the 6-series. Sure, you can still buy a brand new M6, 6-series coupe or gran coupe, but you might notice its styling is decidedly last generation. Why then, does this 5-door hatchback, look so drastically different from what the model designation used to represent? With the announcement of the resurrected 8-series name, perhaps BMW felt there was no longer any need for the 6 to be a flagship coupe. Or perhaps it’s a way to try to differentiate it from the not-so-well received 5-series GT it replaces.

The old 3 and 5-series GT’s weren’t a stellar success for BMW. As luxurious, comfortable and practical as they were, the styling was just awkward. The new 6-GT does its best to remedy the unfortunate situation. Its design is miles ahead of what it replaces. BMW dropped its roofline and lengthened the wheelbase, giving it a longer, sleeker appearance. Proportionally, the 6 GT looks like it fits somewhere between the 5 and the 7-series. Appropriate, since they now all use the same platform. It’s longer than a 5, but shorter than the 7. Despite the lower roofline, its still taller than both the aforementioned sedans. As subjective as looks are, it’s still not what we’d call beautiful, but it is certainly a vast improvement over the outgoing 5-series GT.
Inside, the 6-series GT is bathed in an almost 7-series level of luxury. Supple and supportive leather seats (ours came in a rich cognac colour) feature a multitude of adjustments to give you the perfect fit and position. Tick the Premium Package on the options list and you can add massaging functions to the two front seats – but don’t expect a deep tissue experience. We found it mild at best. Still, the soft leather and supportive bolsters make the two front seats among the most comfortable we’ve tried. Passengers in the back won’t have much to complain about. The rear bench seat is quite comfortable too, and features independent seat heating functions, along with adequate headroom and legroom. The cabin itself is very quiet and refreshingly clear of fake engine noise being piped through the car’s speakers.

The dashboard blends BMW’s latest tech with a beautiful design and intuitive layout. Instead of relegating more and more controls to a large touchscreen as many cars seem to be doing, BMW employs a combination of old school – but functional – buttons and a screen for the iDrive system, vehicle settings and navigation. HVAC controls have their own separate touchscreen, but it’s responsive and very straightforward. The iDrive menu has been greatly refined and is much easier to navigate than BMW’s of years past. You might have to dive through a number of menus to reach certain options however, like pairing a phone or activating seat massagers. BMW’s voice recognition has also been greatly improved, but is still not perfect. On multiple occasions, the GPS would deem my destination to be in a different province. Other goodies include adjustable ambient lighting in 11 different colour configurations, the (gimmicky but fun) gesture controls you find in the 7-series and even customizable climate fragrances in the Ambient Air Package. 
BMW once famously advertised themselves as The Ultimate Driving Machine. You seldom see that phrase in official BMW media these days, but generally the adage has held up. Even a base model BMW has a sportier feel than one might expect. But the 6-Series GT is different. Sure, it has a sport mode, but this car is all about comfort, luxury and ease. Our tester’s air suspension wafted over rough road surfaces and inclement weather conditions while keeping drivers and passengers in a quiet and comfortable environment. The GT can certainly handle sportier driving, but feels more at home in comfort mode. The twin-turbo 3.0 inline-6 under the hood has a respectable 335 horsepower, but it’s delivered in a graceful manner. You won’t get sucked into the back of your seat, but the car/hatchback will get you up to speed faster than you might expect. 0-100 takes just over 5 seconds. Fuel economy is surprisingly good too, netting figures as good as 8.4 L/100km.
The most polarizing aspect of the GT – the hatchback – is also one of its best features. With 1,800 litres of storage space, there’s certainly enough room to pack the GT’s large trunk with everything you need for a long road trip or weekend getaway. For comparison, BMW’s own X5 SUV only has 70 litres more. Granted, that space is cut to 610 litres with the rear seats folded up, but regardless of how you feel about the way it looks, the practicality is impressive. 

The 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is a mouthful. It’s an almost odd design but it’s also incredibly comfortable, luxurious and practical. Starting at $76,700 in Canada, it’s nestled nicely between the 5-series and the 7-series. Our tester featured a number of optional extras, putting the price closer and closer to 7-series territory without quite crossing that threshold. But that’s where one of this car’s best features becomes apparent. This isn’t a cheap car – but for a brand like BMW, there’s some good value for money. You’re getting a larger, more practical and seemingly more luxurious vehicle than a 5-series with features, tech and comfort from a 7-series – for less than BMW’s flagship sedan. 6-series loyalists will no doubt be upset that the number that adorned the legendary E24 coupe and M6 is now shared with a 5-door hatch with no pretentions of sportiness. Sure, the nomenclature is getting a little muddled in Bavaria, but if you can do your best to ignore that, the 6-series GT an absolute treat.

Written by Shane Kalicharan

Tags:
2018 BMW 640i xDrive GT, Review, Hatchback, 

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