2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo First Drive

Moving On Up

Throughout its history, the BMW 6 Series name has defined long, shark-nosed coupes built for long-distance driving in comfort. That's changed in recent years with the introduction of the 6 Series convertible and the 6 Series Gran Coupe four-door. And this year it changes further with the introduction of the latest 6 Series — a four-door hatchback.

The 2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo bears little resemblance to the other 6 Series models, and that's because it's actually the successor to last year's 5 Series Gran Turismo.

2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo

A Hatchback by Any Other Name
In BMW nomenclature, Gran Turismo denotes a car with four doors and a swoopy hatchback rear end. The design provides additional interior space and cargo volume, so it's becoming more popular elsewhere in the industry as a middle ground between sedan and SUV. When viewed in profile, you might see traces of everything from the Tesla Model X to the new Honda Accord.

Aside from the name change, the new Gran Turismo has a sleeker nose that's sharpened in part by its standard LED headlights. It's a little longer and lower, adjustments that help smooth out the awkward proportions of the previous model. More importantly, it trades the complicated and heavy two-mode hatchback of the 5 Series GT for one that opens in a more traditional manner. This change, and others like it, help the 6 Series Gran Turismo trim some weight compared to the 5 Series GT, which aids both its performance and efficiency.

2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo

The Only Way You Can Get It
Only one trim will be available at launch, the 640i xDrive. It comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. The setup is fortified with technology that uses information from the navigation system to prepare the transmission and engine for sharp turns, stops, or anything else that might require a downshift to smooth things out.

With 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, the 640i accelerates effortlessly and quietly while the transmission makes near-imperceptible shifts. An array of drive modes can stiffen the suspension until you feel each bump in the road or make the steering wheel increasingly difficult to turn in the name of sportiness. Back it off to the default Comfort setting and the optional air suspension keeps things compliant, lowering the car at speed to improve airflow. This is the setting where the 640i performs best as it glides along smoothly and quietly with minimal driver effort.

The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster changes appearance depending on the drive mode, but it remains clear and easy to read no matter the setting. An informative and customizable head-up display is optional, but it disappears if you happen to wear polarized sunglasses.

2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo

Department of the Interior
As with all hatchbacks, the Gran Turismo's advantages over a traditional sedan are its rear headroom and cargo capacity. Big doors and frameless windows make for a welcome entry into an interior that feels massive, even with the standard sunroof. Occupants of all heights and sizes will find comfort inside. There's even enough space for rear passengers to cross their legs.

Front passengers can enjoy the optional Luxury Seating package that adds soft, 20-way-adjustable front seats with heating, ventilation and massage. Rear passengers can find comfort in the optional power-reclining seatbacks and pillowlike headrests that conspire to make the backseat more desirable than the front.

As for cargo space, there's 31 cubic feet available with the 40/20/40-split rear seats up. Fold those seatbacks and the space opens up to 65 cubic feet. The two cargo cover shades move out of the way easily for loading, and you can store them in a conveniently located slot under the floor.

2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo

Connect the Dots
Wireless charging and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot are standard, and front occupants have access to two USB ports. Apple CarPlay is a $300 option and can be accessed wirelessly, a boon for iPhone owners with wireless charging capability. Alas, Android Auto is not supported. BMW's ConnectedDrive suite of features is standard and approximates the experience of these two systems, provided you use the apps it supports.

Standard safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, daytime pedestrian detection, forward collision mitigation, speed limit info, rear cross-traffic alert, a backup camera and proximity sensors. If that's not enough, there's the Parking Assistant package that includes a sophisticated exterior camera system, parking sensors, and automatic perpendicular and parallel parking for when you simply want the computer to take over.

The next step up is the optional Remote Control Parking, which, as the name implies, can park your car without you in it. This option includes what BMW calls the Display Key, which is a traditional key fob with an actual information display screen. The key shows you whether your car is locked and how much fuel is left in the tank. We're eager to play with the remote parking feature, but in our experience in other BMWs, the Display Key's absence of a key ring hole and the need for charging are annoyances that undermine the coolness of the technology.

Aside from those minor issues, our first experience with the 6 Series Gran Turismo shows it will capably satisfy those looking for an ultra-luxurious yet utilitarian midsize hatchback that starts at just over $70,000. It's a small niche, but this BMW has it covered.

2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo