It’s All in the Name | BMW 640i Gran Coupe

September 2016 View more

BMW 650i Grand Coup

If BMW’s 640i Gran Coupe seems like a contradiction in terms—a four-door car with a two-door’s name—the contradiction is only linguistic. Like the Porsche Panamera, the Gran Coupe is a sports car disguised in a somewhat more practical body. You might think that BMW has created competition for its own popular 5-Series sedan, but for all of their basic similarities—four doors, six- and eight-cylinder engines, rear- or all-wheel drive—they are likely to attract different buyers.

The two cars’ twin-turbo six-cylinder engines are close cousins, but they have different attitudes. The 535i delivers 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque; the Gran Coupe bumps those numbers up to 315 and 330, respectively, and throws in a sports exhaust for an aural reminder that you are in a more focused driving machine.

NMAG0916_ForTheRoad_P90169519_highRes_the-new-bmw-6-series_800pxInterestingly, the Gran Coupe comes only with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the 535i can still be delivered with a manual. But in full automatic mode, that eight-speed dances seamlessly with the Gran Coupe’s engine, delivering power on demand for accelerating out of a tight corner or quickly passing on the interstate. The transmission’s manual mode also delivers crisp downloads for dipping in to the power reservoir.

The Gran Coupe is not stupendously fast (BMW estimates a 5.4-second run to 60 miles per hour) but it feels quick, balanced, and controlled. True driver pleasure comes from the car’s overall feel and its handling, not so much from neck-snapping performance.

NMAG0916_ForTheRoad_P90169521_highRes_the-new-bmw-6-series_800pxLower, longer, and wider than the 5-Series sedans, the 640i Gran Coupe also has a shorter wheelbase and a longer front overhang than the sedan. Those exterior dimensions not only represent a car with a unique stance, they translate into a completely different cabin feel as well. The Gran Coupe doesn’t just perform differently than the 535i, it looks and feels like a different animal.

Climbing in to the Gran Coupe’s driver’s seat is more like lowering yourself into a sports car—a welcome change from climbing up in to a crossover or large SUV. The seats are sporty snug, the cockpit standard-issue BMW design. Behind those front seats, the Gran Coupe offers only two bucket seats in the second row and, further back, a smallish, but still decently sized, trunk. The Gran Coupe’s raked roof also means somewhat compromised rear and side visibility, as with many sporty cars.

The Gran Coupe follows the typical script for luxury brands in terms of base and up-level engine choices. While the 640i certainly delivers, upgrading to the 650i adds two more cylinders and a whole lot more power. The twin-turbo V8—a version of which does duty under a lot of BMW hoods—turns out 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, and shaves about a second off your on-ramp sprint.

The 2017 BMW 640i Gran Coupe starts at $80,795, but an un-optioned Gran Coupe will be as rare as a Cardinals fan at Wrigley Field. Most buyers will roll off the lot in cars laden with additional safety, comfort, and luxury features and the higher price tags to match. Prices also escalate for cars with all-wheel drive “xDrive” in BMW’s nomenclature—a $3,000 option that knocks a few tenths of a second off the car’s 0–60 time—and larger engines. The V8-powered 650i Gran Coupe starts at $92,195, while speed and handling junkies will likely cast an appraising eye at the M6 Gran Coupe for $117,500 and the 600-horsepower Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe, which tops the model lineup at $122,500.