BMW 640i Gran Turismo — Hatchback utility

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The 2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo is a new 5-door hatchback, effectively the next generation 5 Series Gran Turismo. BMW in its zeal to add niche products to the lineup designed the Gran Turismo as a swoopy car-like crossover, but in fact it doesn't have the versatility of a crossover. It's more a sedan with a hatch. And, by the way, it's much better looking than the outgoing 5 Series.

We enjoyed the newest BMW iteration for its good looks, excellent driving demeanor and its extra cargo space behind the seats.

Throw all the crossover talk into file 13, and from this point we'll consider the 6 Series Gran Turismo as a larger car that can seat five people, with standard all-wheel drive, endowed with BMW's latest technology, and capable of hauling up to 65 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats folded. One particularly cool feature is the Velcro-like rear hatch cover that can be removed and placed flat on the bottom of the trunk, which keeps it from sliding around. Icing on the cake — it's a very stylish automobile, well-proportioned with delicious flowing lines.

The 6 Series has all the necessary Ultimate Driving Machine credentials starting with the turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making a healthy 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Torque is distributed to all four wheels when needed and the 6-Series can respond to a full-throttle launch with a rewarding 5.1 seconds from 0-to-60. To get true driving machine handling select Sport from the driving modes. And for those who care, gas mileage is good considering the performance at an EPA-rated 20 mpg city, 28 highway and 23 overall on premium gas.

You will discover light-footed handling and a cornering ability that will bring a smile to your face. Helping keep the car level through the twists and turns is the optional Dynamic Handling Package that includes three driving modes — Comfort, Comfort+ and Sport. Our advice — stay away from Comfort+ unless your taste runs to the soft and mushy feel.  Keep the big Bimmer in Sport at all times. But remember that this is a 4,500- pound passenger car and don't expect 3-Series-like tossability even in Sport mode.

Inside you will find essentially the dashboard of the latest 5-series with relatively intuitive controls. The tech-laden 6 GT has the iDrive 6.0 infotainment system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, gesture controls and head-up display. BMW says its voice command system is upgraded and now also responds to natural voice inputs.

It's easy in easy out with the 640i and that's a particularly helpful feature for us of older bodies. It seems the 640 GT is the ideal height, lower than an SUV but higher than a sedan. Big, frameless doors swing wide-open for entry or exit, and an optional 360-degree parking camera engages as you park to show you just how far you can open your doors before you ding the car next to you. Rear seating space and legroom is generous.

Visibility can be an issue because the 6 Series' roof pillars are massive. The front pillars partially obstruct your view through turns. The windshield is large and the windows are tall, which help, and the 360-degree camera system is useful.

The 640i packs enough technology to keep most happy. Autonomous features under the “active driving assistant” heading include active blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, and daytime pedestrian protection, frontal collision warning  with city collision mitigation, speed limit info, and cross-traffic alert. The optional driving assist plus package also adds active cruise control with stop-and-go, active lane-keeping assist with side collision avoidance, traffic-jam assist, and cross-traffic alert up front.

Active cruise control now works from speeds between 0 and 130 mph and can brake the car to a standstill. A quick press of the resume button will get you rolling again.

The BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo comes in only one trim. But options are many and desirable and will move the base price of $70,695 upward. Two packages we would recommend are the Driver Assistance Plus package for $1,700 that brings all the autonomous features described above and the $4,100 Dynamic Handling Package. One option that meant a lot to us was the $875 Harmon Kardon surround sound audio system.

Other extras on our test car were the M Sport package for $1,200 that adds 19-inch light alloy wheels, and the $2,100 Executive Package that brings soft close doors, head-up display, the 360 degree surround camera and parking assistance plus. Bottom line was $84,010.

Base price: $70,695; as driven, $84,010
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6
Horsepower: 335 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 332 foot-pounds @ 1,380 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 120.9 inches
Length: 200.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,409 pounds
Turning circle: 41.0 feet
Luggage capacity: 31 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 65 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 20 city, 28 highway, 23 combined
0-60: 4.9 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Volvo V90 wagon, Audi A7

The Good
• Hatchback utility
• Roomy rear seats
• Excellent performance

The Bad
• Not as maneuverable as luxury sedan

The Ugly
• Less versatile than SUV