BMW 640i GT

Re­mem­ber the BMW 5 Se­ries Gran Turismo? No? That’s all right, be­cause Damien O'car­roll thinks BMW would prob­a­bly rather you for­got it any­way.

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It would be a hard car to re­mem­ber at any rate, be­cause they sold so very few of them in this part of the world. The large, un­gainly lump that was the 5 Se­ries Gran Turismo was an at­tempt to blend SUV prac­ti­cal­ity and 7 Se­ries lux­ury that just looked crook. But now the 5 Se­ries Gran Turismo has mor­phed into the far more at­trac­tive 6 Se­ries. What’s that? BMW al­ready has a 6 Se­ries? That large coupe re­mem­ber? Ex­cept that par­tic­u­lar 6 Se­ries has now be­come the 8 Se­ries, leav­ing the sur­pris­ingly large lift­back GT as the sole bearer of the 6 Se­ries moniker. Big and hand­some, as op­posed to bul­bous and weird like the old 5 Se­ries GT was, the 640i is at­trac­tive and in pro­por­tion. But big. Very big. In fact it hand­ily off­sets its po­ten­tially awkward height by be­ing sim­ply mas­sive in ev­ery other di­men­sion as well. While it is a far bet­ter look­ing car than its pre­de­ces­sor, it can still look a bit odd from some an­gles. In­side, how­ever, it is all el­e­gantly re­strained BMW at its best. Su­perbly com­fort­able and lux­u­ri­ous, and made from out­stand­ingly high qual­ity ma­te­ri­als, the in­te­rior is a de­light­fully com­fort­able and high-tech place to be. BMW’S now stan­dard ges­ture con­trols for au­dio and phone are still ut­terly bril­liant and the seats are su­perbly com­fort­able and sup­port­ive. And that sheer size is even more ob­vi­ous in­side, with amazing rear legroom and quite start­ing head­room. That mas­sive head­room has let BMW give the 640i a very Suv-like seat­ing po­si­tion, with a com­mand­ing view out over the long, wide bon­net. It feels slightly odd at first, sitting so high, but it soon be­comes mildly re­as­sur­ing in a sea of SUVS on the road. While the in­te­rior is beau­ti­fully built, it still does look a bit old fash­ioned, de­spite all the high tech screens and, most an­noy­ingly, the gloss black fin­ish on cen­tre con­sole at­tracts dust and fin­ger­prints, and also scratches eas­ily. The sole power plant avail­able in the 6 Se­ries in New Zealand is a 250kw/450nm 3.0-litre in­line turbo six that is a sim­ply su­perb piece of en­gi­neer­ing. Smooth and pow­er­ful, it is won­der­fully re­fined and quiet, as well as be­ing mus­cu­lar and re­spon­sive. The eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is equally ex­cel­lent and ef­fi­cient, with a silky smooth shift ac­tion. That said, while it is gen­er­ally su­perb, the trans­mis­sion can be wrong-footed on oc­ca­sion and the not in­con­sid­er­able weight of the 640i can make the en­gine seem a lit­tle re­luc­tant at times. On the road the 640i is so com­fort­able and con­fi­dent it is al­most silly. Su­perbly com­posed over ev­ery sur­face and in­cred­i­bly sure-footed on wet roads (thanks to BMW’S ex­cel­lent xdrive AWD sys­tem), the 640i is a re­mark­ably ca­pa­ble ex­ec­u­tive ex­press that sim­ply de­vours dis­tance with­out break­ing a sweat, at any speed. Think of the 640i Gran Turismo as a 7 Se­ries lift­back and you start to ap­pre­ci­ate it for what it is – an im­pres­sively ca­pa­ble lux­ury car that is also re­mark­ably prac­ti­cal and roomy. And no longer looks weird.

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