Test Drive: 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe

And the cycle is complete.

Eight years after Mercedes-Benz launched the “four-door coupe” craze with its super swoopy CLS sedan, BMW has finally joined fellow German automakers VW, Porsche and Audi in following suit. The fact that two of them, the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera, actually have five-doors doesn’t really matter because the whole idea of a four-door coupe is still ridiculous, although the results are sometimes fantastic.

That said, BMW is the first to be bold enough to use the word “coupe” in the name of its entry, which is called the 6-Series Gran Coupe. It’s also the only one directly based on a real-live two-door, giving it some more credibility in this increasingly awkward name game.

Why you want one:

The Gran Coupe is drenched in sex appeal. Its roof is low, its lines long and every single body panel lean. From the nose to somewhere just past the windshield it is pure 6-Series coupe, but its stretched wheelbase is courtesy of the 5-series and its overall length closer to a 7-series. Has the average of two numbers ever turned out so gorgeous?

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    The cabin is equally prepared for the runway, featuring a haute couture design ported straight from the two-door. The leather pours from the top of the dashboard down onto an asymmetrical center console, which continues into the rear passenger area. A wide variety of luscious hides, unique woods, aluminum and piano black trims are available - some in two-tone combinations that make you feel like you’re sitting in a spectator shoe – as well as an Alcantara headliner that beats mouse fur any day.

    Long commute? Opt for the 20-way power seats with backrest angle and bolster adjustments along with massaging seat bottom for your bottom. I kid you not, this car moonlights as a masseuse and a very good one at that.

    Two engine choices are available: BMW’s outrageous 445 hp twin-turbo V8 found in the 650i – which must choose if you want all-wheel-drive – and the mercury-slick 315 hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6-cylinder that you get with the 640i tested here. The latter engine configuration is so rare these days it would almost be criminal to pass it up for a few superfluous horsepower, plus it just seems right placed lengthwise under that epic hood.

    Power is strong all the way through the 8-speeds of the automatic transmission, and fuel economy very good at 30 mpg highway. That sleek body is good for more than turning heads.

    An Eco setting that recalibrates throttle response, shift mapping and the climate control is said to be able to increase mileage by an additional 20 percent. A stop-start system helps out at the pump, too. This is a very contemporary ride without going the full hybrid.

    Active dampers are included and you can order up rear-wheel-steering, which turns the tires outward a low speeds to tighten the turning circle and in the same direction as the fronts above 40 mph or so to help keep the rear in check. Although the system doesn’t make itself obvious I can report that the tail stays planted even when the gas pedal is planted to the floor on an exit ramp or five.

    Navigation is standard, and high tech driving aids on offer include active cruise control, head-up display, top and side view cameras to assist with parking and pulling out of intersections, a self-parking system that finds spots and steers the car into them, and a lane departure warning system that features an intuitive alert that vibrates the steering wheel when you approach the line as if you’ve driven over rumble strips. This is the way to do it.

    Why you might not want one:

    The base price for the 6-cylinder is $76,895, or about $25G more than a 5-series with a similar engine and more interior room. Even though the Gran Coupe comes much better equipped, that’s a high price to get in the door and it’s really easy to option it up into the 6-figure range. The bottom line on my test car was $104,695.

    And while the Gran Coupe technically fits five passengers, BMW rightly calls it a 4+1 because the center of the rear floor is filled to capacity with that stylish console, making the hump more like a saddle. Just don’t even think of wearing a 10-gallon hat if you get stuck there, you ride high while the ceiling is low. The outboard passengers have it much better. Practice calling shotgun, or maybe hop in the trunk – it’s quite large considering the slinky shape of the car.

    One thing you need to know:

    Just say ‘no’ to dubs. The optional 20-inch, 14-spoke wheels look incredible stuffed into the wheel arches of the Gran Coupe, but their 30-series tires have such short sidewalls I’m not even sure if there’s any air in them. Great if you live on a freshly-paved autobahn, less so pretty much everywhere else on the planet. You’ll be using that massage button often if you can’t resist them.


    2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe

    Base Price: $76,895

    As Tested: $104,695

    Type: 4+1-passenger, 4-door sedan

    Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-cylinder

    Power 315 hp, 330 lb-ft torque

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic

    MPG: 20 city/30 hwy