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Road Test: 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Gran Coupe
BMW has followed Mercedes and Audi in a particularly important market niche for Germany’s luxury car elite, the four-door sedan styled as a coupe. Crossed between a coupe and sedan, the 2012 BMW 650i Gran Coupe looks poised, strong and stylish. It is for sure the best looking member of the BMW 6-Series and slots into the carmaker’s lineup between the 5-Series and 7-Series.
The name itself may frown eyebrows. A Coupe with four doors? With the word Coupe meaning “cut”, as in “chopped off” in French and “gran” in various Latin tongues meaning “large” or “great”, you may start to understand the reasoning behind the car’s name. Visually, the Gran Coupe is essentially a normal 6-Series Coupe with an extra set of aluminum doors with frameless side windows. The front features a long powerfully contoured hood, short front overhang and a new set of optional Adaptive LED headlights.
The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe measures five meters in length and 1.8 meters in width, with a height of 1.39 meters. The Gran Coupe is 113mm longer than its two-door coupe sibling and the roofline is 23mm higher too. A significant part of this extra length has been used to enhance seating comfort for the rear passengers.
Two engines and three models are available: a twin scroll turbo six-cylinder model badged as the 640i, and a twin-turbo V8-powered version offered as the 650i and all-wheel-drive 650i xDrive. The last one was our test car; a four-wheel drive BMW 650i Gran Coupe fitted with Individual goodies and a Frozen Bronze exterior paint. The eight-cylinder engine produces a maximum 450hp between 5,500 and 6,000rpm, and makes a peak torque of 650Nm between 2,000 and 4,500rpm. Regardless of engine, BMW fits the 6-Series Gran Coupe with an eight-speed automatic. A manual transmission is not on the option list.
The gearbox is smooth and quick to react, both in automatic and manual modes. The box is equipped with automatic stop/start and brake-energy-recuperation functions and extra-long gearing (a 0.67:1 eighth-gear ratio is mated to a 2.81:1 final drive). A slight turbo lag is present when you floor the throttle, but it is not in any way worrying when you take the car for an everyday drive or a road trip across the continent. The fast shifting transmission allows a sprint from zero to 100km/h in over four seconds with the acceleration continuing up to a limited 250km/h.
Part of the excellent ride quality can be attributed to the adjustable Driving Dynamics Control system with its four different settings. Switching between the settings provides the driver and his/her passengers with an alternation in the throttle input, suspension firmness, shifting and steering. The dampers stiffen, the engine becomes more responsive to the gas pedal, the transmission is quicker to downshift and holds its gears longer. Opting for sport mode also increases the electric power-steering system’s efforts.
Like the other BMWs that use this suspension design, the Gran Coupe rides great at first but then whomps over moderate bumps with slightly too much feedback. The total weight of up to 2,000kg is easily felt in the car’s handling. On the highway, the new BMW delivers rock-solid longitudinal stability and the sort of relaxed cruising qualities that will no doubt make it an exceptional long-distance proposition. The hydraulic steering unit feels more connected to the wheels and offers a more precise turn-in than the electronic variant we drove before in other 6-Series.
The interior of our test car featured a masterfully executed individual interior. The over-the-top combination between the Amaro Brown and Opal White leather/alcantara is not everybody’s choice, but clearly an unique statement by the BMW Individual department and it garnered admiring glances everywhere we went. The carpets, dash top, door sills and Alcantara headliner are all finished in the same rich-looking brown, while the lower door panels and seats are white with brown accents. The white wood trim inserts have a faint, shadowy zebra striping complementing the extra-ordinary cabin, which resembles an average Bentley or Rolls-Royce.
The electronic front seats offer more than enough side profile for spirited driving. The front seat belts are fitted to the shoulder rests. The rear offers space for two additional people, even though BMW claims the car is a 4+1. There are also three seat belts in the back. The center console extends to the rear seating compartment, which does not leave a lot of room for a third person. The head- and legroom for two persons are more than sufficient. If requested, you can fold down the rear seat and create additional cargo space.
Aside, from the comfort and additional space in the back, the 6-Series Gran Coupe has no new gimmicks. The two frameless doors are the main highlight of the wonderful test car we drove just for one single day. Our BMW 650i xDrive Gran Coupe proved to be an eye-catcher everywhere we drove combining the unique matt exterior finish with the ultimate individual interior. Besides that, all the technical gizmos onboard the Gran Coupe are used before in other cars and enhanced our excellent comfortable and save ride.
The brand new BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe is definitely more special and unique than the BMW 5-Series and more practical and comfortable to transport four people than the normal 6-Series. In the end, we were solely impressed with its overall style and functionality of carrying four in a reasonably amount of comfort and sportiveness. The grand touring aspect is more present in this Gran Coupe than in any other 6-Series, simply because the “larger coupe” feels more special and practical to travel in, either up front or in the rear.