By David Colman
Hypes: Spacious, Glassy, Classy
Gripes: Pricey, Fixed Moonroof
Five years have elapsed since BMW introduced their stunning 4-door “CL” coupe study at the Shanghai auto show in 2007. The hallmarks of that China show design by Adrian van Hooydonk, which paid tribute to BMW’s treasured CL coupes of the Seventies, were its expansive glass area, six foot width, and exceptionally large wheels and tires. All of those design features have found their way into the production version, the 2013 640i Gran Coupe. The roofline of the new coupe resembles the back of a turtle, with vast front and rear window glass sloping away from a domed roof that itself contains a huge pane of tinted glass. Just like its show car CL predecessor, the Gran Coupe is more than six feet wide excluding the outside mirrors. And completing the key points of van Hooydonk’s original vision, 20 inch tall wheels with super skinny sidewall Dunlop tires define the exaggerated wheel well arches.
From a historical standpoint, the term coupe defines a 2-door car with 2 + 2 seating. BMW has redefined the classic coupe concept by adding an extra pair of rear doors to facilitate rear seat usage. Thanks to the car’s six foot width, there’s even room and belts for a baby size fifth passenger in the center of the rear seat. Indeed, there’s nothing + 2 about the rear seat accommodations. The 640 GC offers posh seating for 4, with possible occupancy by 5. Call it a 4+ 1 coupe. But make no mistake, the 640, despite its stealthy profile and attractive silhouette, is a sizeable vehicle. It’s 197.2 inch length is just 2 inches short of a 7 Series limo, and 4 inches longer than a 5 Series sedan.
For a 4,291 pound car depending on a 3 liter straight 6 cylinder engine for motivation, the 640 GC is a remarkably strong performer. In fact, it’s so strong in a straight line that you’d swear BMW had inserted a turbo V8 under the hood. But that’s not the case, although the 650i GC turbo V8 is coming soon (along with an All-Wheel-Drive version called 650i Xdrive). But you do not need to pay for the extra power, weight and fuel consumption of the V8, because the 640’s in-line 6 is more than quick enough, thanks to the fact that it’s turbocharged and intercooled, and produces a hefty wallop of power and torque whenever you need it. The silken 8-speed automatic transmission does your bidding like a Genie. Depend on its reassuringly immediate kickdown function in “Drive” or summon your own gear in “Manual” by using the elephant-eared paddles on the center spokes of the steering wheel.
The 640i GC is remarkably agile for such a large package. The coupe corners flatter than a Swedish pancake, with almost no body roll, and transitions from side to side like a flanker back juking in the open field. The 20 inch alloys, shod with sizeable Dunlop run flat SportMaxx GT tires (245/35R20 front, 275/30R20 rear) contribute exceptional stability to the handling of the 640i at the expense of extreme harshness over speed bumps and broken pavement.
In days gone, new BMW’s always carried a nice assortment of tools, neatly contained in a drop-down kit affixed to the underside of the trunk lid. Those days are just remnants of the past because this $102,000 640i GC offers its new owner nothing but a tiny pouch containing a tow hook and a chintzy screw driver. This small oversight, however, might be the only drawback to owning this otherwise elegant and sporting tool for fun driving.
2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe
- Engine: 3.0 liter in-line 6, DOHC, 24 Valves, Turbocharged and Intercooled
- Horsepower: 315 @ 6,000rpm
- Torque: 330 lb.-ft. @ 1,300rpm
- Fuel Consumption: 20 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
- Price as Tested: $102,145
- Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars