Muf­fin-top to go

A BMW unashamedly not for the bony

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - LIFE -

Skinny peo­ple must be stopped. What with their clingy jeans, sin­gle chins and sen­si­ble, mostly plant-based di­ets. Who the hell do they think they are?

For too long, skinny peo­ple – I’m not say­ing bony, but oth­ers might – have skewed the er­gonomic mod­els car­mak­ers de­sign around, rep­re­sent­ing the 90th per­centile of hu­man form. That is so elit­ist.

BMW rights this wrong with the 2018 640i xDrive Gran Turismo. This long-dis­tance tour­ing coupe, for­merly be­long­ing to the 5 Se­ries fam­ily, has been given new nomen­cla­ture in keep­ing with BMW’s pol­icy of mak­ing things very con­fus­ing. The com­pany de­scribes the de­sign as com­bin­ing the “com­fort of the lux­ury sedan with the aes­thet­ics of a sporty coupe”. The first as­ser­tion is to­tally ac­cu­rate while the sec­ond is the stuff of mush­room hal­lu­ci­na­tions.

In the flesh, the 640i GT is fleshy, thick in the mid­dle, a mo­torised muf­fin top. But that is only what it looks like on the out­side, to the cyn­i­cal and un­der­fed. On the in­side, it feels won­der­ful, spa­cious and roomy as a caf­tan. Based on the same wheel­base and com­po­nent set as the 7 Se­ries ex­ec­u­tive sa­loon, the 640i GT has NBA-cal­i­bre front legroom ( 105cm) and a lofty 97.8cm of head room in the rear, even with the slop­ing roofline and sun­roof. Be­hind the rear seat­backs is a proper 610 litres of cargo space, which ex­pands to 1841 litres with the rear seat down.

But the prime met­ric is seat­ing height, or eye level. The driver in the BMW 640i Gran Turismo would have about a 13.4cm height ad­van­tage over the driver of a 6 Se­ries Gran Coupe. Take that, you stick fig­ure you.

The 640i GT puts me in mind of all the read­ers who’ve writ­ten to me des­per­ate for a roomy, com­fort­able ve­hi­cle without the high step-up of an SUV or truck. Some of these peo­ple ad­mit to be­ing over­weight but some are just enor­mous hu­mans who have suf­fered a life­time of squash­ing them­selves into tiny spa­ces. The 640i GT’s broad, shal­lowly bol­stered, thickly cush­ioned bucket seats make it a ver­i­ta­ble Tem­ple of Butt. I could move the driver’s seat back un­til the steer­ing wheel was out of reach. There is a full 152cm of shoul­der room across the front cabin. Two de­fen­sive line­men in full pads could take this car on a date.

Un­der the vo­lu­mi­nous body­work the 640i GT is a fully cre­den­tialled BMW, with a silky smooth, ur­gent and ea­ger 3.0-litre twin-turbo in­line six chan­nelling 250kW and 450Nm of torque (1380-5200rpm) through an eight-speed au­to­matic and stan­dard all-wheel drive. To ac­com­mo­date its du­ties as long-dis­tance tourer, the GT uses load-lev­el­ling air springs in the rear multi-link sus­pen­sion.

The propul­sion does a pretty amaz­ing job mov­ing the two-tonne GT, empowering ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion of 5.1 sec­onds and an elec­tron­i­cally lim­ited speed of 250km/h. The pow­er­train re­fine­ment and iso­la­tion matches the best in BMW’s fleet.

And con­sid­er­ing the height above wa­ter­line, this ship is quite sail­able too, with body roll mo­tions while cor­ner­ing well con­tained, if not en­tirely con­quered. BMW’s usual ar­ray of drive modes – Eco Pro, Com­fort and Sport – are present and ac­counted for, but there is no doubt this car does Com­fort bet­ter than Sport.

BMW’s interior de­sign re­mains ex­cel­lent: the dig­ni­fied re­straint of line, the rich ma­te­ri­al­ity, the de­tailed fin­ishes, from the lower dash to the suede-like roofliner.

Our GT showed off BMW’s lat­est nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, with a 26cm touch­screen dis­play and with bright, so­phis­ti­cated 3-D graph­ics, be­hind which is a whop­ping 200 GB hard drive re­ceiv­ing over-the-air up­dates.

And oh, so spa­cious. Never mind the one per cent. Here’s a car for the 99th per­centile.

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