Muffin-top to go
A BMW unashamedly not for the bony
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.