ROAD TRIP ES­SEN­TIAL

We’re in Por­tu­gal for the launch of BMW’s 6 Se­ries Gran Turismo

Weekend Herald - - DRIVEN - LIZ DOB­SON

BMWhas re­vealed its first 6 Se­ries Gran Turismo at a global launch in Por­tu­gal, with the lux­ury sedan in­cor­po­rat­ing a unique col­lab­o­ra­tion of ve­hi­cles and tech­nol­ogy from the Ger­man brand.

Glob­ally re­plac­ing the 5 Se­ries Gran Turismo, the 6 Se­ries will ar­rive in New Zealand late next month and is priced from $ 155,600. We’ll get the top- spec 640i Gran Turismo ( GT) with xDrive and MS­port per­for­mance pack, pow­ered by a 3- litre, six cylin­der, in- line petrol en­gine, pro­duc­ing 250kW of power at 5500- 6500rpm, and 450Nm of torque at 1380- 5200rpm.

The GT has a top speed of 250km/ h with 0- 100km/ h at 5.4 sec­onds.

The 6 Se­ries GT is paired with an eight- speed step­tronic trans­mis­sion, and gets an au­to­matic self- lev­el­ling rear air sus­pen­sion sys­tem plus dy­namic damper con­trol and BMW’s xDrive sys­tem.

But what makes the 6 Se­ries Gran Turismo unique is the com­bi­na­tion of ve­hi­cles from BMW’s line- up that cre­ates it’s de­sign DNA.

The front is from the 7 Se­ries con­cept, while the rear is shared with the 5 Se­ries Tour­ing. Its boot space is nearly as big as the X5 large SUV. The 6 Se­ries GT is

5091mm long, an

in­crease of 87mm over the 5 Se­ries GT, while re­main­ing the same width as that ve­hi­cle ( 1902mm). It’s lower by 21mm to 1538mm to cre­ate a flow­ing coupe- style roofline thanks to a rear that is low­ered by 64mm.

The frame­less doors add to the coupe styling but that look is de­ceiv­ing as the front seats have been raised, mak­ing en­try eas­ier and the ve­hi­cle more SUV- like than sports car.

And, de­spite the lower roofline, the space in­side the cabin is im­pres­sive, with the legroom so note­wor­thy that not only did our 187cm ( 6 foot 2in) pas­sen­ger sit­ting in the back have plenty of space, but a BMWstaff mem­ber at the Por­tu­gal launch quipped that he’d like a 6 Se­ries GT as his new work car to pre­vent his kids from be­ing able to kick the back of his driver’s seat as there was so much space in the rear.

Though I don’t think those kids would de­serve the op­tional elec­tronic ad­justable seats that can re­cline, cre­at­ing a limou­sine feel, es­pe­cially with cush­ion head­rests.

But head to the back of the GT and you could eas­ily have this 6 Se­ries as a family ve­hi­cle, thanks

EX­AM­IN­ING THE SPACE AT THE LAUNCH THIS WEEK AT SINTRA, POR­TU­GAL, I JOKED WITH AN­OTHER BMW STAFF MEM­BER THAT YOU COULD USE IT FOR A TRIP TO IKEA. ‘ IT’S TRUE, I WENT THERE AND BOUGHT A SHELV­ING UNIT AND IT FIT­TED NO PROB­LEM,’” HE SAID

to the huge boot space.

The rear ca­pac­ity is 610 litres ( up 110 litres over its pre­de­ces­sor) and X5- like.

It pro­vides enough room from all the equip­ment for a young family but, fol­low­ing its name, Gran Turismo, it’s the ve­hi­cle for a long road trip.

There is enough space for suit­cases for five pas­sen­gers and room left over, es­pe­cially if you re­move the two boot cov­ers.

But fold down the rear seats, and the space is an im­pres­sive 1800 litres.

Ex­am­in­ing the space at the launch this week at Sintra, Por­tu­gal, I joked with an­other BMWstaff mem­ber that you could use it for a trip to Ikea.

“It’s true, I went there and bought a shelv­ing unit and it fit­ted no prob­lem,” he said.

To aid a boot full of suit­cases, or Ikea good­ies, is the au­to­matic self- lev­el­ling rear air sus­pen­sion that it a prac­ti­cal ad­di­tion to the tourer.

The 6 Se­ries GT has lost 150kg over the 5 Se­ries GT, and has im­proved aero­dy­nam­ics be­cause of the coupe- like sil­hou­ette, ac­tive air flap con­trol, air cur­tains, and an au­to­mat­i­cally ex­tend­ing rear spoiler that flips up at over 120km/ h — which I of­ten did dur­ing our scenic loop around Lis­bon and the coast. The 6 Se­ries GT could slot into BMW’s “niche” prod­uct line- up. You can look at it this way, odd num­bers ( 3 Se­ries, 5 Se­ries, 7 Se­ries, X1, X3, X5) are con­ven­tional ve­hi­cles, while even num­bers ( 2 Se­ries, X6 and now 6 Se­ries GT) are more life­style prod­ucts. But there is more to the 6 Se­ries

than just be­ing a niche, as our drive pro­gramme proved.

We left the Penha Longa resort in Sintra, head­ing to Cas­cais at a max­i­mum speed of 90km/ h along the curv­ing, stone wall- lined nar­row roads, be­fore hit­ting the cy­clist- dom­i­nated coastal drive then nip­ping in­land then on to the Por­tuguese mo­tor­way sys­tem — which al­lowed the GT to come into its own.

With the 120km/ h speed limit, and the route tak­ing on long pe­ri­ods of straight stretches then hill ac­cents, our 640i’s 3- litre, six cylin­der en­gine ef­fort­lessly hit that speed with plenty of grunt left for over­tak­ing.

I eas­ily sat at 130km/ h in the fast lane be­fore tem­per­ing back to the speed limit.

Our pas­sen­ger joked that we should keep go­ing to France — and, in all se­ri­ous­ness, the GT was built for that type of road trip.

It wasn’t only the en­gine’s per­for­mance, the xDrive han­dling or the in­te­rior space, but also the of­ten for­got­ten as­pect in a ve­hi­cle — acous­tics.

Each driver also had a turn as a rear pas­sen­ger, ini­tially to ap­pre­ci­ate the legroom and re­cline seats, but it soon turned into an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the 6 Se­ries GT’s acous­tics. We de­cided to do

WE DE­CIDED TO DO THE 130KM LOOP TWICE, NOT JUST BE­CAUSE WE HAD THE TIME, NOR BE­CAUSE OF THE SCENERY, BUT ALSO BE­CAUSE THE GT MADE IT AN EN­JOY­ABLE DRIVE

the 130km loop twice, not just be­cause we had the time, nor be­cause of the scenery, but also be­cause the GT made it an en­joy­able drive.

Sure, the road sur­face in Por­tu­gal is smooth — un­like New Zealand bi­tu­men on our mo­tor­ways and don’t even men­tion our sec­ondary routes — but even at 130km/ h we could eas­ily hold a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween front and rear pas­sen­gers with­out hav­ing to lean for­ward to hear what was be­ing said up front. Im­pres­sive.

Though, if you had young kids as rear pas­sen­gers — as the BMW staffer was con­sid­er­ing — you may need to wind down the front win­dows — or turn up the vol­ume on the stereo via ges­ture con­trol — to drown out their de­mands. The 6 Se­ries GT

also gains BMW’s co- pi­lot, which im­pressed in the new 5 Se­ries. I ap­pre­ci­ated yet again that the con­trol for this semi- au­ton­o­mous sys­tem is ac­ti­vated via but­tons on the steer­ing wheel — though you are lim­ited to how long you can have your hands off the wheel be­fore it de­ac­ti­vates. I also ap­pre­ci­ated the 6 Se­ries GT’s high front seat­ing po­si­tion. It means you slide across, rather than slide into your seat as you would a sports car.

When it goes on sale here, com­pe­ti­tion could come from Audi’s S5, but also from within, the BMW7 Se­ries, due to the ease of driv­ing, per­for­mance and leg/ lug­gage room.

The 5 Se­ries GT had lim­ited im­pact in New Zealand as a new ve­hi­cle, though you’ll see a few grey im­ports, but the first 6 Se­ries GT is set to change per­cep­tions for Ki­wis.

Sure, it won’t sell in the same num­bers as BMW’s other sedans be­cause of its price, but it is set to make an im­pact on our roads.

The space in­side the cabin is im­pres­sive, the legroom note­wor­thy and there is loads of boot space.

Pic­tures / Sup­plied

The style and ride are im­pres­sive as are the oft­for­got­ten acous­tics.

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