Video review: 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismoby Drew Johnson
Does a new badge make for better 5 Series GT?
A few years ago BMW phased out its 5 Series wagon in the United States in favor of the 5 Series Gran Turismo, much to the chagrin of wagon-loving automotive enthusiast. But the truth is, the 5 Series wagon wasn't exactly a hot seller.
Unfortunately for BMW, neither was the 5 Series GT. BMW figured that most 5 Series wagon buyers would warm up to the 5 GT, but many left the brand entirely for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. And to add insult to injury, the 5 GT actually ate away sales from the more profitable 7 Series sedan.
So, for 2018, BMW had a bit of a rethink and came up with the 6 Series Gran Turismo. But does a new name and sleeker styling make for a better 5 GT? Read on to find out.
What is it?
Umm, that's a good question. Despite being branded as a 6 Series, which typically denotes a coupe in BMW's vernacular, the 6 GT isn't some sporty two-door. It's also not a sleekly styled four-door coupe like the 6 Series Gran Coupe or Audi's A7. It's also not quite a sedan, and not quite a wagon. And, despite having standard all-wheel drive, it's not an SUV, either. Really, the 6 GT is a segment-bending car that combines elements from a number of different categories.
What's it up against?
As the 6 GT doesn't fit neatly within one specific segment, it has a wide range of competitors. The Audi A7 is arguably its closest rival, but customers could also be cross-shopping the 6 GT against the Mercedes E-Class wagon and, given its high level of features, even BMW's own 7 Series.
What does it look like?
This 6 GT isn't what I'd call a pretty car, but it is much better looking than the 5 GT it replaces. The 6 GT still has an awkwardly tall green house above the front cabin, but BMW designers did a much better job of integrating the car's sloping roof into the tailgate area. The rest of the 6 GT's exterior styling is essentially pulled from the latest 5 Series sedan.
And the inside?
There may be room to debate the 6 GT's exterior, but there's no mistaking its interior for anything but that of a luxury vehicle. Designed in typical BMW fashion with high-tech gizmos and high-quality materials, it's little wonder that the 6 GT is able to siphons a few sales away from the flagship 7 Series.
If you've been in any modern BMW, the 6 GT's cabin should feel familiar. Expansive pieces of aluminum and wood give the 6 GT's cabin an extra feeling of width and stability. The center stack is dominated by a large, tablet like infotainment screen running the latest version of BMW's iDrive. Just below are controls for the radio and HVAC that are surprisingly straight forward given the level of tech in the 6 GT.
The 6 GT uses a configurable LCD gauge cluster that still uses a few physical elements to give it a more tactile feel. The steering wheel houses all the controls you'd expect, along with a double-stitched leather face that you might not.
The center console houses the 6 GT's shift lever, along with buttons for the various driving modes and a wheel for the infotainment system. It should be noted, however, that the infotainment screen in the 6 GT is a touchscreen, so you're not forced to use the wheel if you don't want to.
You're also not forced to use buttons for some of the 6 GT's functions. That's because the hatchback borrows the gesture controls we first saw in the 7 Series sedan. Want to increase the radio volume? Simply twirl your finger clockwise in front of the radio and the volume magically increase; twirl the other way to lower the volume. There's even a pinch-to-view function for the car's 360 camera that gives you a bird's eye view of the vehicle's surroundings.
Space in the 6 GT's front seats is expansive. There's plenty of legroom and the 6 GT's high roofline provides more than enough headroom, even for those over the six-foot mark. Seats also proved to be comfy with a good amount of bolstering.
The rear of the 6 GT offers generous legroom, but headroom is a bit tighter due to the car's sloping roofline. Seats are no less comfortable, though, especially when you upgrade to the power-adjustable units that were fitted to our test car.
Trunk space in the 6 GT is impressive with the rear seats up or down. In fact, with the second row stowed, the 6 GT actually has more cargo room than an E-Class wagon.
But does it go?
BMW made a name for itself by building the ultimate driving machine, but we all know those glory days are well in the rear-view mirror. Outside of BMW's M products, the company is focused on luxury first and driving performance second (if you need proof of that, the 6 GT has one sport mode and two comfort modes).
As long as you can come to grips with that, the 6 GT is an extremely nice car to drive. Our test car was equipped with the optional Dynamic Handling Package which, among other things, includes a two-axle air suspension. In sport mode, the suspension does a remarkably good job of keeping a vehicle as large as the 6 GT flat through corners. Steering is light and without much feel, but it's direct and the rear-wheel steering (which is also part of the Dynamic Handling Package) does a fine job of making the 200-inch-long 6 GT feel much smaller. The 6 GT won't get your heart pumping, but it's no slouch in the twisties.
Where the 6 GT really excels is in cruising comfort. In comfort mode, the 6 GT provides a smooth ride no matter the road surface. In comfort mode, you could run over a small shed and not even notice. And that serene driving experience is only enhanced by an extremely quiet cabin.
Straight line performance is also good. The 6 GT uses a turbocharged inline-six engine with 335 horsepower that is cable of moving the car from 0-60 in less than 5-seconds. Despite all its luxury and performance, the 6 GT is still good for 20mpg in the city, 28mpg on the highway and 23mpg in mixed driving.
MG's bottom line
The 6 Series GT hasn't exactly gone from an ugly duckling to a swan, but it has transformed quite nicely from its first- to second-generation. The 6 GT is better looking than the outgoing 5 GT, and is also packed with a lot more tech. And while a certain set of buyers will always prefer a wagon, there's no denying the 6 GT's practicality.
The 6 GT isn't a sedan or wagon or SUV, but rather a blend of all those things. And while those type of mashups don't always work, the 6 GT kind of does.
Photos by Drew Johnson.
2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo base price, $69,700. As tested, $84,010.
Bluestone metallic, $550; Driving Assistance Plus, $1,700; Dynamic Handling Package, $4,100; M Sport Package, $1,200; Executive Package, $2,150; Heated steering wheel, $190; Front and rear heated seats, $350; Ceramic controls, $650; Power rear seatback adjustment, $500; Remote control parking, $750; Apple CarPlay, $300; Harman Kardon surround sound, $875; Destination, $995.