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The Grander Tourismo!

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 08, 2018

Luxurious tourer The 6 GT is built on the same platform as the regular 7 series S Muralidhar   -  BERNHARD_LIMBERGER;BERNHARD LIMBERGER

The 6 GT’s plush interiors and chunky alloy wheels

BMW’s 6 GT is a more elegant and plusher replacement for the current 5 GT. Will be here by early 2018

BMW has had unexpected success with its Gran Turismos in India. The 3 GT first and then the 5 GT have really been embraced by customers in a market that has traditionally been loathe to accept estates and station wagons. Maybe it was the offbeat body style of the GTs that attracted buyers, or the extra ground clearance and legroom at the rear or maybe it was simply the fact that it offered more car for their buck.

The demand for the GT is proof that even in the luxury class, customers value higher practicality and space. But, the 5 GT stops short of being appealing to buyers who expect the car to tug at their heartstrings. That has been the job of the 6 Series Gran Coupe, which is one of the best looking cars from BMW’s portfolio. Its low-slung coupe design gives it a special charm and individuality that helped create a segment of its own. Now, the boffins in Munich have come up with the new 6 GT, finally offering an elegant, plusher alternative to the ungainly 5 GT.

Design

Today’s younger luxury car buyers also seek a design aesthetic that matches their outlook. The 6 GT manages to bring that mix of attributes to the category. It’s design is classic GT styling, with a sharply rising windscreen, and a gradual, elegantly sloping towards the rear roofline that ends at the top of the stubby boot. The 6 GT is built on the same platform as that of the current generation 7. No surprises then that the new 6 GT’s wheelbase and width are identical to the regular 7 Series. So, the 6 GT is a fairly large car and bears some resemblances to the current 6 Series Gran Coupe’s design. Its four full-size doors will certainly be appreciated by Indian buyers, as will be its slightly taller stance compared to the Gran Coupe. Better still the standard air suspension lets you raise the 6 GT by another 20 mm, if needed, for speeds up to 40 kmph.

The 6 GT is a looker. The front reflects the current BMW design signature in the headlamps fusing into the bonnet grille, a trend first started in the current generation 3 Series. LED headlamps with their trademark ‘laid down question mark’ style daytime running lights and the upright kidney grille design hark back to the 5 Series front end. The 6 GT gets a lot of aero features with the most significant being the active flaps built into the grille slats. There are also the large air intakes/curtains in the front fender and the slit vents on the front body side panels.

The new 6 GT does look like it’ll be a heavy car. But BMW officials say that the new model is 150 kg lighter than its predecessor. A part of the savings has come from the increased use of aluminium and high strength steel in the body structure. But a big chunk has come from a far simpler solution to the split tailgate that was being offered with the 5 GT. That has now been replaced by a single tailgate, which is now hinged at the roof. The boot in the 6 GT also offers a larger 610-litre capacity, which can go up to 1,800 litres with the rear seats folded.

The 6 GT is best viewed from the side. Its sharper, more sculpted lines are highlighted by the play of light and shadow. Frameless doors add some drama to the side profile. The other feature that catches my attention is the absence of the Hoffmeister-kink; a fixture in most BMW cars; the swooping return of the window line in the new 6 GT is instead a sharper variation, that lets it cut deep into the C-pillar. At the rear, the three-dimensional tail-lamps represent a departure from the configurations of the past. The protruding lip of the tail-gate gives the 6 GT a sporty profile already, but the 640i M Sport trim I was test driving in Lisbon last week also featured an electrically deployed spoiler.

Cabin

Step into the new 6 GT and the cabin is pleasantly luxurious with a new combination of materials. The layout of the driver-oriented cockpit is very familiar and in fact, borrows quite a lot from the 5 Series. Though a number of elements are BMW regulars, they have been clothed in new, plusher materials.

Like the matte-feel, open pore wood inserts and the soft-polished aluminium trim elements. The huge, leather-clad seats in the 640i were comfy and offered a number of adjustments for getting the right position. There is a lot of shoulder room, and even legroom and headroom at the rear is more than adequate for relaxed riding.

Hexagonal design elements dominate the dashboard and the central console. There are a lot of premium features and high-tech aids that have trickled down to the 6 GT from BMW’s flagship saloon. So, like in the 7 Series, the 640i had digital instruments, a touchscreen crowning the centre-stack and now offering gesture control, and a Bowers & Wilkins infotainment system with 10-inch screens for the rear passengers. There is also a lot of other tech like surround view cameras, auto lane keeping assistance and remote parking that is being offered in the 6 GT. We do know that the sunroof is optional, but we will have to wait to see how many of the other features are not standard and how many will make it to the India-spec.

Performance

During the test drive organised by BMW in the suburbs of Lisbon and in the vicinity of the Estoril circuit, the only 6 GT variant on offer was the 640i M Sport. The 630d with its three-litre, in-line six cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, which is much more likely to make it to our shores was only on the display stand. This is one of the engines being offered in the new 5 Series currently available in India. The M Sport 640i features a six-cylinder petrol engine that generates 340 PS of peak power and 450 Nm of torque. This is one refined, buttery smooth mill, that is so quiet that passengers will be cosseted and isolated from much of the buzz in the bonnet. The engine is paired with an eight-speed ZF auto transmission and does the 0-100 kmph run in a claimed 5.3 seconds. Incidentally, that is for the xDrive version that we were driving.

Power delivery in the 640i is linear and there is a lot of torque available on demand, with a strong mid-range bias. Tapping the throttle with the needle positioned anywhere within the 1,000 rpm to the 7,000 rpm redline will throw you back into your seat. In Sport mode, the 6 GT is even more agile with the eight-speed tranny staying in gears longer and doing quick double downshifts when needed.

The big change in the new 6 GT is in the suspension and steering departments. This new GT is so pliant, nearly wallowy, that it almost feels like suspension tuners from Rolls-Royce crossed over by mistake and laid their hands on this Beemer. In Comfort Plus mode, the 6 GT feels like a boat gliding over potholes and bad roads, without a hint of that disturbance coming up to the seats. The steering is also lighter, though not lacking in precision. Suspension and steering feel get a little firmer in Comfort, and the closest it gets to the familiar rigid BMW suspension and heavy steering feel comes through only in Sport mode. At higher speeds, the steering is heavy enough to easily keep your line even through some tight turns, but if the road markings are clear enough, you can even let go of the wheel in short bursts and allow the active lane-keeping assist to take over.

Bottomline

When it is launched early next year, the 6 GT will be welcome from an Indian buyer’s perspective. Overall, the 6 GT seems to have set its sight firmly on Asian buyers. With a taller than average seating position, features to keep rear seat passengers entertained, a supple, pliant ride quality and easy handling in city driving conditions. Compared to the 5 GT, this will also come loaded with goodies, in a bid to take on competitors like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A7.

Published on October 19, 2017

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