Turning the heads of Audi drivers with the sporty diesel from BMW
Can the latest coupe from BMW beat its rival for fans of German technology? Frederic Manby finds out.
MY cousin and her husband and her daughter and her husband drive Audis. They have three between them. I went to see them in BMW’S new 6-series coupe, the 640d. There was Ingolstadt-infused bravado about the merits of their Audis, vis a vis a BMW, but this one took their breath away – though their admiration was controlled.
“I don’t like the dashboards of BMWS – they’re all angular,” said one of them.
I forgot to ask when she last looked at a BMW dashboard, but guess it must have been in the 1980s.
Her husband and her son (VW Polo, pending enough money to move to, I suppose, an Audi) are big men. The biggest did fit into the passenger seat and the younger man sat behind me (11st, restricted height blamed on post-war privation, early bronchitis etc, an early diet of rabbit and hare).
We went to Gosport, a down at heel display of tattoo and massage joints only a spit across the water from the plush shopping mall in Portsmouth.
They keep a gentleman’s motor yacht in the Gosport marina, built on the Gairloch in 1939. Being wood it does seep a bit, so he fired up the diesels to empty the bilges. I went to the forrard heads (being a gent’s vessel it also has heads in the stern, so to speak).
They also have a gent’s racing yacht, same era, same maker, in the harbour – so I’d say it is time to move from Audi to that champion of yachting, Volvo. Some chance.
Anyway, I could tell he liked the power of the BMW, but there was the question about the engine’s capacity.
Until recently, BMWS were delivered for testing with a printed synopsis, full of answers to those quick-fire questions: how fast, how powerful, how much, etc. Progress means that one is given all this in an email, which of course is ignored until the time comes to write about the experience.
At least one’s mind is not clouded by expectations but it isn’t half embarrassing when you nip into the Camshaft Arms (or in this case the Good Intent) and are asked the series of “how” questions about the 640d.
I sort of inferred it may have a 4-litre engine but hedged and hopped a bit, because BMW does mess with numbers, no more so than with the BMW 1-series where every engine is 2-litre but, depending on power output, badged 116, 118, 120.
The 840, gadzooks, is only a three-litre whether a petrol or diesel straight-six motor and,
It is graceful and gorgeous and gets those “gorr, wass that?” glances – even from Audi fans.
in case you are in the slightest bit not too bored by this, the 650 is 4.4 litres but does have a V8 mill. This mucking about with numbers is misleading and should be stopped. Volvo once had a neat system, where the first number was the series, the second signified cylinders and the third told us how many doors it had.
Enough. This latest BMW coupe looks like the first one should have looked. It is three inches longer, a couple wider and slightly lower. It is graceful and gorgeous and gets those “gorr, wass that?” glances – even from Audi fans.
Like a few other real cars the power goes to the rear wheels and I know they can be abysmal in snow so this one was wearing Dunlop Winter Sport rubber. Severe winters have awoken us to the gain from winter tyres. They sold out far too early last winter. This time the carmakers and the tyre depots have stocked up. Thousands of us had them fitted in good time. But in most of Britain it is what the weather girls call unseasonably mild. There are flies in the garden (the house is probably too cold for them to survive).
Well, don’t fret. Winter tyres are fine in good weather although high-mileage drivers may find the rate of wear a bit expensive.
Things I liked about the 640d included the masses of power, the comparative quietness, the electric steering column adjuster, the almost huge navigation and info display screen, the M logo on the sills telling everyone it was a sporty version, getting 40mpg on a long journey, the refined stopstart engagement. The front seats run forward by tapping a switch.
This car costs a lot of money and so major disappointments are not expected. General “running about” returned 30 to 32 miles a gallon. It seats four people, not five. The rear seat does not fold flat, which prevents through-loading from the boot. However, you can get a “ski-hatch” aperture.
The latest high-performance diesel couple from BMW, the 640D.
SLEEK AND STYLISH: