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In Style

Howard Walker

   If I had to nominate the hottest trend in automobiles right now—apart from those annoying bright-white, hockey stick-shaped LED lights—it would have to be the four-door coupe.
   Since Mercedes-Benz created the genre with its gorgeous CLS back in 2003, it seems like every carmaker has leapt onto the bandwagon: Volkswagen with its CC, Audi with its A7, Porsche with its Panamera, and even Jaguar with its XJ.
BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

   The appeal is pretty straightforward. Everyone loves the swoopy lines of a two-door coupe. That’s why the Bentley Continental GT can bring grown men to tears, while the four-door Continental Flying Spur version is like visual Prozac.
   But two doors come with compromises, like usually minuscule rear seats and access to them that requires the contortionist skills of a Caribbean limbo dancer. Watch riders try to extract themselves from the back of the Continental GT, and it seems more like an entry for America’s Funniest Home Videos.
   Yet add two extra doors to a low-slung, fastback-roofed coupe and stretch the wheelbase to give more legroom in the back, and you have seemingly the perfect compromise—form with functionality. Take a long, lingering look at Aston Martin’s four-door Rapide, and tell me it doesn’t make sense.
Dash of BMW's 2013 6 Series Gran Coupe   But is it all just that—a fad? Will one too many rear-seat riders complain at the lack of headroom? Or scream blue-murder at whacking their head on that ski-slope-like roof as they slither in?
   Just as I was beginning to raise my hand in support of the faddist argument, I clapped eyes on BMW’s achingly gorgeous new 6 Series Gran Coupe. Had he still been around, Wordsworth would have penned sonnets in adoration of this car; Romeo would have ditched Juliet as the focus of his affection.
   To witness its true gorgeousness, gaze at the Gran Coupe in profile. It’s that old school, classic look of a long, long hood, high waist and low roof as well as a roofline that sweeps down to a short, stubby, near-horizontal trunk lid.
   It’s also pretty stunning when you open a door and climb aboard. Our tester came with the new creamy-white Opal leather with Amaro Brown accents. It was like sitting in a cup of cappuccino.
   In the back, there’s no shortage of stretch-out legroom, but while BMW labels the car a 4+1 seater, with space for a middle back-seat rider, don’t believe it. As the wide center console runs all the way back, anyone in the middle would have to straddle it as if riding Seabiscuit.
interior of BMW's 2013 6 Series Gran Coupe  Depending on your need for speed, there are two engines to choose from. The entry model—the Gran Coupe 640i, which we’ve been sampling—features BMW’s super 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six.  
   For us, it provides such a sweet balance between power—it packs a healthy 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque—and excellent fuel economy (20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway). And coupled with a new 8-speed ZF auto, it can sprint from rest to 60 mph in a swift 5.6 seconds.
   Performance lovers, however, will probably opt for the more potent 650i model, with BMW’s much-loved 5.5-liter turbo V-8 under that long hood cranking out a meaty 443 horsepower.
   If there’s a minor criticism of the 3.0-liter in the 640i, it’s that it is a little short on low-speed response. The engine really has to be spinning above 3,000 rpm to get it to perk up. But after that, it really does pull like an Amtrak locomotive all the way to its 7,000 rpm red line.
2013 BMW 6 Sereis Gran Coupe

   And the tasty combo of nicely weighted steering, well-tuned suspension and a surprisingly smooth, supple ride makes the 640i a true joy to drive.
   One big surprise with the 640i Gran Coupe is its pricing. At $76,895—with the potential to soar to close to $100,000 when you load up on options—it’s $4,000 more than the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz CLS550 and $17,000 more than the lovely Audi A7.
   But then again, who ever said beauty comes cheap?

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February 2015