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.

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES -

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.

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