2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo: The New Face of the 6 Series

Strong points
  • Smooth ride
  • Royal rear-seat space and comfort
  • Hatchback versatility
Weak points
  • Only one powertrain choice
  • Comfort Plus mode too soft
  • Vague steering feel with driver assistance systems activated
Full report

SINTRA, Portugal – A lot is going on at BMW these days, including the reorganisation of the company’s midsize product portfolio. After launching the latest generation of the 5 Series sedan last year, the German brand is adding a few more variations for 2018, such as the 530e plug-in hybrid, the M550i xDrive as well as the mighty M5. More choice is never a bad thing, especially when your rivals are called the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Cadillac CTS and the Audi A6.

BMW also decided to reposition the 6 Series in order to bridge the price gap between the 5 Series and the 7 Series. This is where the new 2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo slots in. It’s a five-door, fastback-style sedan that succeeds the 5 Series GT, sold between 2010 and 2016. It will sit alongside the 6 Series Coupé, Cabriolet and Gran Coupé—but not for long, as they will be replaced by the new 2019 BMW 8 Series.

All these moves raise some questions. Why not simply reintroduce a redesigned 5 GT and dump the 6 line altogether? Because the new 6 Series GT shares a lot of stuff with the 5, but rides on the 7 Series’ longer platform. Also, because the Gran Turismo is meant to battle the five-door Audi A7, positioned between the A6 and the new, 2019 Audi A8.

There will be only one powertrain for the 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo in Canada. It’s equipped with a turbocharged, 3.0-litre inline-six that develops 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and—of course—all-wheel drive. According to BMW, the car can catapult itself from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds. It’s not a rocket, but it’s plenty fast.

Comparisons with the old 5 Series GT are inevitable. Its wheelbase still spans 3070 millimetres, which translates into enough room for front-seat occupants, but lots of space for folks riding in the back seat. If we’re frequently driving long distances with four adults on board, the 6 GT will prove amazingly comfortable.

Photo: Michel Deslauriers

Although the car doesn’t share the Carbon Core platform of the current BMW 7 Series, the company’s engineers still managed to shave 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of weight by, among other things, eliminating the complex and heavy, dual-hinged liftgate of the 5 GT for a simpler, one-piece hatch. The company claims that owners of the previous GT are extremely satisfied with their vehicle, of course, but rarely opened the trunk-only portion of the liftgate when they loaded up their gear and groceries.

Reverting to a conventional hatch also meant ditching the divider panels that were installed right behind the rear seatbacks, which were created to prevent drafts from bothering occupants when only the trunk portion of the liftgate was opened. Those rear-seat passengers still get treated to power-adjustable seatbacks, heated outboard seat cushions and the added airiness of the standard panoramic sunroof.

The cargo cover is actually composed of two separate panels, including one attached to the liftgate itself. Both can be removed and neatly stowed under the cargo area floor. With the rear seatbacks in place, cargo volume is rated at 610 litres, but can reach 1 800 litres when the seats are folded down, and there are release switches on the inside edges of the trunk opening to quickly create a flat load floor.

As its name implies, the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is all about long-distance cruising in utter comfort and serenity. The drive mode system includes Eco Pro and Sport settings, but no Sport Plus mode. Rather, it features Comfort and Comfort Plus modes, the latter giving the car a creamy—dare we say bouncy—ride, which isn’t what we expect from BMW vehicles. Yet this sedan will aim to please U.S. and Chinese customers, who aren’t necessarily looking for sportiness in their “ultimate driving machine.” Let’s just say that the regular Comfort mode is fine, and the owner can also customise performance and handling settings using the Individual mode.

The 2018 BMW 6 Series GT can also be equipped with the Advanced Driver Assistance Package, which adds electronic aids such as Driving Assistant Plus as well as Steering and Lane Control. Basically, the car is able to steer itself on the highway, and will function for 50 seconds at a time without detecting steering wheel input from the driver. We tried it and it works, but know that this is a semi-autonomous driving feature that isn’t meant to replace the person behind the wheel. However, when the system is fully activated, steering feel is vague and the wheel has a tendency to squirm in our hands as the car’s electronic babysitters try to perform their duties.

Photo: Michel Deslauriers

Fuel economy numbers aren’t available as we were writing these lines. However, the BMW 540i’s city/highway figures at set at 11.4/7.8 L/100 km, so the 6 Series GT’s ratings should probably be a tenth or two higher, given its higher curb weight.

Base price is set at $76,700 before freight and delivery charges, although one could option up the car to more than $100K be adding features like night vision, a rear-seat entertainment system, a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, nappa leather upholstery as well as a Premium Package that bundles soft-close doors, ventilated and massaging front seats, an advanced park assist system and more elaborate BMW ConnectedDrive services. The other 6 Series variants are priced from $90K to $130K, but as we mentioned earlier, they will soon be replaced, so the 6 Series line will actually move down to a more accessible price level.

On sale in Canada before the end of the year, the 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo likely won’t be a volume seller, simply because of its hatchback body style and the fact that consumers currently have a fondness for SUVs. Also, if you’re waiting for a next-generation M6 or a spiritual successor to the 635CSi of the ‘80s, you’ll be disappointed. However, the car’s styling is a vast improvement over the old 5 Series GT, due to its lower roofline, longer rear end and more dynamic profile, so we expect the 6 GT to be slightly more popular. If a 5 Series is too small and a 7 Series is too expensive, this new 6 Series could be an interesting in-between.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

Test Drives2017 BMW i8: BMW Showcase
In a conversation where the topic is modern-day hypercars and supercars, the members of the most recent Holy Trinity will inevitably come up. I am, of course, referring to the McLaren P1, the Ferrari LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder. On top of the fact that these are epic, insanely …
FrankfurtBMW Concept X7 iPerformance: A First Ever SUV from BMW i!
At BMW, the i Division oversees the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. I know what you're thinking: But BMW has rechargeable models (like the X5 xDrive40e) that don’t include the letter i in their names! That’s true. But at BMW, as with other German manufacturers, the way models are named …
New Models2018 BMW M5 Finally Uncovered
Three months ago, BMW teased us with a photo gallery of the newly redesigned 2018 BMW M5 . However, the car was camouflaged and we couldn’t really see the specific styling details of the high-performance sedan that will once again take on the Mercedes-AMG E 63 , the Audi S6 …
Frankfurt2018 BMW X3: New Generation of the Brand’s Popular SUV
BMW chose the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show to present the new generation of its popular compact SUV, the X3. The front end of the vehicle remains familiar, but has evolved quite a bit. The typical BMW kidney grille has been reshaped, the air intakes are bigger and the headlights are …
First Drives2018 BMW X3: Improved in all the Right Places
SINTRA, Portugal – The third-generation X3 will arrive in Canadian dealerships late this year, and although it looks quite similar to the outgoing model, the brand’s compact crossover has changed quite a bit. The 2018 BMW X3’s overall shape is obviously an evolution over the previous generation, and it’s easy …
New Models2018 BMW X2 officially unveiled
The German brand will add yet another utility vehicle to their lineup early next year. After presenting the BMW X2 Concept at the Paris auto show in September 2016, the production version of the sporty subcompact SUV has just been revealed. It will be built on the same platform as …
Test Drives2018 BMW 440i xDrive: It’s a Grand Tourer Now
The BMW 3 and 4 Series duo has long been the target of numerous praise and criticism from the automotive press. With such legacy behind the cars, and increasingly demanding expectations from consumers, without forgetting aggressive new entries from Alfa Romeo, Lexus and Jaguar, the pressure has never been so …
MontrealBMW's Remote Control Parking System
Are parking spots too narrow? Or are modern vehicles simply too large? BMW’s answer to both these questions is: indeed. The German manufacturer was in Montreal in mid-January to premiere the new and fairly large 6 Series Gran Turismo hatchback. It also unveiled a smart key which partly solves that …