Niche market segments are all the range now, and there does not appear to be any sign of them stopping soon. Whether it’s customers demanding more choice or manufacturers wanting and being not able to fill voids that previously could not be filled, the market and desire for these niche products continues to grow and grow.
The range is simple, in fact it’s so simple because there is only one Gran Turismo model available in New Zealand. And right now, it’s also the only new BMW 6 series model available too.
The 640i xDrive Gran Turismo starts at $155,600. It comes with a BMW Twin-Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 250kW of power and 450Nm torque. It also has a 8-speed sport automatic transmission with gearshift paddles that’s linked to the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
The range of equipment is vast, and for the price it should be. Standard equipment on the 640i includes M Sport package (includes M Sport braking system, sun protection glazing, M exterior styling package), 20-inch BMW M light alloy wheels in double-spoke style 648, run flat tyres, Comfort Access system, warning triangle and first aid kit, comfort front seats, through-loading system, exterior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle function, ambient light package, Parking Assistant Plus package (includes Park Distance Control front/rear, rear view camera, parking assistant), adaptive LED headlights, High Beam Assist with selective beam, Driving Assistant Plus with Active Cruise Control, Navigation system Professional, BMW head-up display, Harman/Kardon surround sound system, BMW Connected Drive (including intelligent emergency call, Teleservices, Real Time Traffic Information, Concierge Service, Remote Services), wireless charging system, BMW gesture control, Multifunctional Instrument Display, Leather ‘Dakota’ upholstery, panoramic glass sunroof, electric rear seat adjustment, instrument panel in Sensatec and rear-axle air suspension.
You can also option the 640i with a Luxury Line package at no additional cost, which take the sport more edgy look away from the M Sport design. This gives you a front bumper and front ornamental design elements, tailpipe finishers and rear bumper embellisher in chrome ‘Luxury’ designation on front side panel (left and right). Door handles illuminated with chrome insert, Kidney grille bars in chrome, window frame in chrome, B pillar in black high-gloss, tailpipe and finishers in chrome. LED fog lights, active seat ventilation in the front seats, exclusive leather ‘Nappa’ upholstery, sport leather steering wheel, front and rear door sill finisher illuminated with inserts in aluminium with ‘Luxury Line’ designation and 20″ light alloy wheels W-spoke style with high gloss polished finish
BMW have tried to keep the packages for the Gran Turismo as simple as possible. There are 3, which are the Innovations Package, Exclusive Package and Comfort Package. Both the Innovation and Comfort package had been added to our test vehicle.
The Innovations Package is $1450 and adds the BMW Display Key, Remote Control Parking and Apple CarPlay.
The Exclusive Package is $7,400 and adds the Adaptive 2-axle air suspension, automatic air conditioning with 4-zone control, Integral Active Steering and roller sunblinds.
The Comfort Package is $1650 and adds Seat heating front and rear, Steering-wheel heating and Ambient Air package.
As the 640i Gran Turismo focused so much on the interior experience, it’s no surprise to find that you have 9 different leather options, 5 Dakota and 4 Nappa leather. It also had 7 different interior trim colours and materials.
For the exterior of the car you have 11 colour options two non-metallic paints, Alpine White as on our test car, and Black. There’s 9 metallic paints, Carbon Black, Black Sapphire, Glacier Silver, Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect, Mineral White, Mediterranean Blue, Royal Burgundy Red Brilliant Effect, Jucaro Beige and Bluestone. Last but not least, you get 3 wheel options.
When I heard we were getting the 640i Gran Turismo I instantly thought of the 6 Series Gran Coupe, and I was looking forward to driving that sexy car. And then one day, before I picked it up, it clicked. This was not the car we were getting, it was the old cousin of that odd 5 Series four door hatch that looked like it has been rear ended by a truck, repeatedly.
Cars in my opinion should always have good lines. And the old 5 Series Gran Turismo always looked odd, and even though the 6 series Gran Turismo does looks a bit better, it still suffers from the same odd appearance. Nice from the front, and then as you move around the side, you start to wonder what on earth were the designers thinking when they got to the side rear profile.
This section is what the 640i is all about, and right from the moment you sit in, you know it’s going to be first class service all the way.
The first thing you see are the 20-way adjustable driver and passenger seats, both with highlighted piping and quilted leather that oozes luxury. As expected it did not take long to get comfy in these seats. I did however spend about 10 minutes playing with all the adjustments, just to see what’s on offer. I am pretty confident that anyone can get comfy in these seats in a very short amount of time. The Dakota leather are no cost options, and the Nappa are no cost options when combined with the Luxury line package and $1500 each when optioned with the Motorsport option
The experience in the rear of the cabin is very different to the front seats. The space in the back seats is epic. Being a tall guy and leaving the driver’s seat in my position, I am able to sit in the back and still have 5 inches of space between my knees and the seat in front. This is where most of the additional space achieved from using the 7 series platform has been alloted.
The panoramic roof, which is a nice standard option – aided in opening up the feeling of space in the back seats, making what could be a dark area very bright and spacious. It did not seem to cover as much of the roof as expected, I assumed this was due to the sloping fastback design.
Across the dash and doors there are Fine-wood trim in Poplar Grain Grey inlays. There are 7 trim options available, all of which are no-cost options – except for the piano black inlays that are $500. I personally did not like the Poplar Grain Grey inlays, and found it hard to believe it was real wood. It looked fake to me, so they would not be my trim choice.
Below the dash and just in front of the cup holders is a wireless charging pad, which is a great place to store your phone when driving. Unfortunately for me, my Google Pixel does not have wireless charging. This is also one way you can charge the BMW Display Key. Once sitting on the pad, the blue light comes on, and very quickly recharging the key.
Having to recharge your key is something that car owners have never had to do before. I did not experience the key completely draining flat, but it’s something owners might easily forget to do.
This 640i has been optioned with the Comfort Package, which upgrades the standard seat heating in the front, to both front and rear seats, steering wheel heating and Ambient Air package for $1650.
The heated steering wheel is a bit weird. It’s not that BMW have made it weird, I mean the general idea. I likened it to sitting on on a toilet seat that that someone else has already been sitting on. It’s weird and not for me. It’s intended task of heating the wheel was achieved rather quickly once activated.
The Ambient Air options was something new to test. Our review car had two fragrances installed, Golden Suite, described as the Mystery of Fiery Armas and Blue Suite, described as Pure Pearls of Water. Either one can be selected via the iDrive system with the option of three dispersion levels. Once selected the fragrance is gently added to the air in the cabin. It’s not intrusive or as harsh as a toilet fragrance block. It’s a bit of a first world luxury item, but I liked it.
The boot had a lot of space, equal to a large sedan’s depth, while being more versatile thanks to the fastback hatch. It’s 610 litres and can then expand to 1800 litres with the rear seats folded. I was amazed at this, as it makes what is a very luxury-focused car, versatile for everyday life as well. You could easily pick up some large boxes or even timber from the local DIY if you really wanted too.
Behind the wheel of this 640i was a rather uneventful experience. I don’t for a second mean it’s dull, I just mean that the entire vehicle is inline with the interior. It’s very calm, comfortable and relaxing experience.
The power from the BMW Twin Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine was always delivered smoothly and evenly. Creating 250kW and 450Nm of torque, it never felt like there was a dip in power or not enough for the required road ahead. This engine was so quiet that I was sometimes unsure if the engine on. And even when the demand for power was made, the cabin remained a serene environment, never drowned with the drown of the engine.
Its 8-speed sport automatic transmission was also flawless, so quiet and smooth. It was pretty hard to even tell when it had changed gear, which became something you never seemed to notice. Like many of these systems, it came with paddles on the steering wheel. More of a gimmick, than something you would use. I don’t think I used them more then once or twice for the formality of testing them out. I just had no reason to leave the gear selection to the automatic system. It’s not a sport car I was testing, it’s a grand tourer.
Even though it was a big car at over 5 metres long, it never felt that big. The steering was light and smooth, and the visibility was great. This combined with the camera’s parking system made parking this yacht an effortless task.
The drive modes offered in the 640i look like they follow the typical BMW configuration until you start to explore them. You have Comfort, Comfort Plus, Eco, Eco Individual, Sport, Sport Individual and Adaptive. That’s right, Comfort and Comfort Plus, which shows you where the design focus of this car lies.
Comfort is the default mode like most BMWs, where the car is set to the middle of the range in regards to power delivery, suspension, dampers, noise and steering feel. Not an uncommon mode at all. However Comfort Plus did surprise me, as I had not expected it. It also triggered the question of why would one want to be just comfortable, when they can be even more comfortable. Surely no one would select just Comfort vs Comfort Plus. For 90% of the time I drove the 640i, it was Comfort Plus all the way. Was it different? Yes. By a lot? Not really. But you could tell that there was more damping and suspension absorption between the two modes.
Eco and Eco Individual, tried to offer you a more eco driving experience. The difference between Eco and Comfort was minimal at best. If anything it made the car a bit sluggish, which did not work for this type of vehicle. Also the dials on the driver’s display were a bit confusing, as they read out the RPM guage in L/100km. And I found it more distracting trying to achieve a more efficient driving style than it should have been.
Sport and Sport individual modes offered you a more sporty driving experience. This was more noticeable than the change to Eco, as it firmed up the car all over, and dropped the suspension by 10mm. It did not change into the next big M series car, but it make this yacht feel a bit more brisk and delivered a very good sporty feeling. Power delivery was sharper, but not lurchy, suspension was stiffer, but not rock hard, and the engine/exhaust noise was higher, but not annoying. I also love how the dash dramatically changed to the red M Sport mode. Sport mode and Comfort plus worked really well for the 640i.
Considering I had given up on the Eco mode I was surprised to see that my average fuel usage over the week I drove the 640i was 10.4L/100km. Compared to the advertised rate of 8.5 L/100km that’s not bad for a big vehicle that weighs just under 2 tons. It’s not the most efficient vehicle around, but it won’t cost the earth to run it either.
The Innovation Package that was included with our test vehicle came with the very cool and massive BMW Display key. This key is as cool as it is annoying. Cool for the obvious reason, it’s a remote key, with a lcd screen that can control and move the car. But annoying for the fact that anyone you explained what the key could do, would not believe you until you showed them. As luck would have it I did get blocked into a tight car park, and the key’s feature of being able to reverse it car out of the spot while standing beside it worked like a charm. It had the added bonus of another drivers jaw dropping open as he saw what was happening. I then jumped in and drove away. For the money I think it’s worth it, but you do have to keep it charged, which is just another thing to keep in mind.
The Competition – Midsize Luxury SUV
This is a niche market, but there are a couple of similar options out there, but your budget may not stretch to cover them all.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||Fuel, L/100km||Seats||Boot Space, Litres||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Porsche Panamera||3.0L V6 turbo petrol||234kW/ 450Nm||7.6||4||500||$201,200|
|Audi A7 Sportback||3.0L BiTDi||235kW/ 650Nm||5.2||5||535||$159,900|
|BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo||3.0L V6 Petrol Twin Turbo||250kW/ 450Nm||8.5||5||460||$155,600|
|Jaguar XJ Luxury||3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel||300kW/ 700Nm||5.7||5||478||$155,000|
|Mercedes-Benz CLS 400||3.0L V6 Petrol Twin Turbo||245kW/ 480Nm||8.0||5||520||$144,000|
The pros and cons
What we think
The big question for me with any car, is why would I buy this over another model or variant. As the 640i Gran Turismo is so niche, it’s a hard option for most people to fall on. So why would someone buy this car? If you were a middle aged or retired executive who has enjoyed large comfortable cars all their life, then something like this could be for you.
They would also be the kind of person who doesn’t bend to pressure or like to conform with the rest of society, and join the legion of SUVs that everyone else are buying. As you can see, it’s not for everyone.
But the 640i is a good car, maybe not so much to look at. The experience inside the car is very refined and opulent. It’s akin to driving a cloud with a great array of standard specs and a whole raft of additional options to make it your own. So if you’re after a big car that’s got luxurious comfort at its core, the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is worth checking out.
Would I buy it? Thats a big No from me. And the reason is simple: I just don’t like how it looks. The 6 Series Gran Coupe has nicer lines, which was more my cup of tea.
Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)
2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo
|Vehicle Type||Large 4-Door FastBack|
|Starting Price||$155,600 plus on-road costs|
|Tested Price||$172,950 plus on-road costs|
|Engine||BMW Twin Power Turbo 3.0-litre 6-cylinder petrol engine,|
|Power Kw / Torque Nm||250kW/450Nm|
|Transmission||8-speed sport automatic transmission with gearshift paddles|
|0 – 100 kph, seconds||5.4|
|Spare Wheel||Space saver|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||1845|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||5091 x 1902 x 1538|
|Cargo Capacity, litres||460 – seats up|
1500 – seats folded
|Fuel Tank, litres||70|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.5L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 10.2L / 100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Towing||N/A kg braked|
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 years warranty and AA Roadside Assist|
|ANCAP Rating||5 Star|