BMW’s new 640i GT – the SUV lite

Behold a unicorn. Only this one carries a BMW badge. Just like the mythical pony with the pointy horn, BMW’s new 6 Series Gran Turismo shares some of the creature’s astonishing rarity.

Trust me, the likelihood of you spying one in the parking lot of your local Trader Joe’s is slim to non-existent.

It’s what happens when you create a vehicle that’s neither a true sedan, nor a wagon, nor a hatchback, or an SUV, but the result of elements of each having been thrown into some giant automotive blender.

I could call it a Frankenstein-bimmer. But I won’t.

Customers are rightfully confused. And BMW isn’t helping matters by badging this new GT a 6 Series. Traditionally that numero was reserved for the car maker’s big, beefy two-door coupe and convertible. The all-new 6 being unveiled next month is going to be badged an 8.

All this is a pity, because amidst this identity crisis is one absolutely terrific vehicle that really deserves some love and attention.

Reducing the confusion somewhat is BMW USA’s decision to offer just a single model, the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo. Priced from $70,200, it comes loaded with standard features like all-wheel drive, a panoramic glass roof, a gorgeous luxe-leather interior, soft-closing doors, and power-reclining rear seats.

Yes, I know, the GT’s tall-roof styling is something of an acquired taste; it’s a little like a 5 Series sedan with its roof raised-up on stilts. While it’s only a couple of inches taller, it looks to be more.

What that raised roof gives you is terrific headroom and much easier ingress and egress. You actually sit nearly three inches higher in this 6 than in a 5 sedan. It also makes the cabin feel light and airy, aided by that huge panoramic glass roof.

In the rear seat there’s almost as much kneeroom as in a 7 Series flagship. It feels like being in a limo back there. Hit the seat recline button, sink your head into the pillowy headrests, and you’ll be napping all the way to grandma’s house.

Where this new Gran Turismo really impresses is when you open that high-lifting tailgate. This car is a serious load carrier. With the rear seat in place, the 640i packs an impressive 31 cubic feet of luggage space. That’s enough room for four or five decent-sized suitcases.

Need more? That rear seat backrest folds 40-20-40-style for ultimate versatility. With the entire backrest folded flat, you get a cavernous 65 cubic feet. There are PODS units less accommodating than this.

Thankfully all this focus on practicality and comfort doesn’t inject novocaine into the Gran Turismo’s mechanical bits. This is still a BMW after all. While you’d never describe it as an ultimate driving machine, it is much more thrilling to drive than any X3 or X5 SUV.

Under the hood there’s only one powertrain on offer; BMW’s Teflon-smooth 335-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder paired-up with an 8-speed paddle-shifter automatic.

This free-revving six is a jewel, punching the GT from stoplight to 60mph in 5.1 seconds with turbine-like smoothness. And it packs Dwayne Johnson-like muscle for rapid passing and swift on-ramp merging.

Show the 6 some curves and it displays all the handling precision, composure and confidence of the 5 Series sedan it’s based on. The standard all-wheel-drive system adds to the car’s poise and balance, while 19-inch rubberware at each corner grips harder than a case of Fixodent.

To raise the fun factor, you’ll want the $4,100 Dynamic Handling pack. It adds active rear-wheel steering, twin-axle air suspension, Active Roll Stabilization and Dynamic Damper Control to really sharpen the GT’s responses.

That GT badge however, perfectly sums-up this impressive all-rounder. It is a Grand Tourer delivering a super-comfortable ride, impressive refinement and relaxed, 600-miles-in-a-day character.

If you’re not quite ready for a bulky SUV, but need more space and versatility than a regular sedan offers, this 640i Gran Turismo might just offer the perfect solution.

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