First look: BMW 6 Series Gran Tourismo

Connected Car was invited along to try the new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo (6GT) at a recent press event. This car replaces what was previously known as the 5GT, a car whose many talents were somewhat encumbered by what most agreed were ungainly looks. To use an at one time popular piece of street vernacular, there was a lot of junk going on in the trunk. Or it was rather bootylicious. Either way, and no matter how good or useful the car underneath the 5GT’s party frock, this maiden was not going to win Belle of the Ball. Instead, it and the subsequent 6GT seem to sit in the same space as Audi’s A7, another car with less than 100% resolved looks.

Now, as you know, Connected Car doesn’t compete with consumer publications in carrying out road tests on all aspects of new cars, we are principally interested in the tech in the car and how well that serves the driver and his or her passengers. Add to this the fact that the car we drove was in our hands for no more than 20 minutes, and you will know not to expect a detailed review. We will, though, make these observations:

  • The 6GT is a very good way of transporting four adults very long distances in a great deal of comfort. No matter which engine you chose – the 630i and 640i petrol engine or 630d diesel – power and economy are (to slightly adapt an old Rolls Royce description) ‘more than adequate’, partly down to the 6GT weighing a little less than the previous car. A base 630i with 258hp and 400Nm of torque will get you from 0-62 in 6.3 seconds and will deliver 43.4mpg on the combined cycle.
  • While a little more sleek than it’s 5GT predecessor, the 6GT is still no classic BMW beauty. However, for the driver and passengers that doesn’t matter so much as ….
  • … when you are inside the car you can’t see the outside, and the interior is delightful. There is plenty of space, the fixtures and fittings are very high quality and BMW does seem to be making an effort to make its interiors a little less austere and clinical.
  • The predominantly black interior of the car we drove (not the one pictured here) was broken up by red accenting, would you believe, providing unexpectedly brave highlighting to the now familiar shiny piano black surfacing. Add fancy stitching on the seats and this felt like an up-market place in which to do your driving business.
  • The driving experience was as it should be. In line with BMW’s press materials, the 6GT, whether in standard or xDrive form can be punted along the road with some brio. Not that this is a sports car. You do not feel inclined to throw it around. You drive it in a sensible fashion, you and your passengers enjoying the fact that you are sitting in a nice place.


Automotive tech-fest-ery

But what of the tech in the 6GT? Well, again, a 20 minute drive does not allow you to discover much. Except that it was annoyingly difficult to cancel a route on the nav system. Much prodding and poking while driving along failed to do it, and even pulling to the side of the road and trying to work it out left us flummoxed, to the degree that we gave up and drove around with the car insistently trying to get us to follow a route we didn’t want to follow. The helpful BMW people back at base did show us how to do it when we got back, but shouldn’t it be really, really obvious?

Anyway, until we spend more time with a current spec car we can’t tell you much about how BMW’s latest iDrive, connectivity, navigation and driver assistance systems work. We had an i8 on loan a while back and it took us all of the week we had that car to become familiar and competent. 20 minutes was not going to tell us a lot about the 6GT. The best we can do for now is to list what is in the car.

Up front is a freestanding touchscreen for navigation, communication and infotainment functions. The high-resolution display has a 10.25-inch diagonal screen, with a tile-style menu layout with animated graphics in live mode. The centre console again features the iDrive Touch Controller dial for BMW navigation and infotainment systems and enhanced voice control is now standard-fit. The 6GT also features optional gesture control, which allows certain functions to be operated with simple movements of the hand or fingers. These are registered by a 3D sensor in the centre console and translated into the relevant commands. Customers can also opt for the new-generation BMW Head-Up Display, where the projection area has been increased by 70 per cent and reflects driving-related information on to the windscreen that will be directly in the driver’s field of vision.

The 6GT makes use of a standard stereo camera as well as optional radar and ultrasonic sensors to monitor the vehicle’s surroundings. The Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation comes as standard, while the list of options includes the new improved version of Active Cruise Control, which is operational at speeds between zero and130mph (honestly officer, we had to find out if that worked). Lane Departure and Lane Change Warning systems that operate between 44-130mph are also options as are Side Collision Warning and Evasion Aid, which both come to the driver’s aid with corrective steering inputs. The options list also features a Surround View camera system that can display a 3D image of the vehicle and its immediate surroundings from multiple perspectives in the Control Display. BMW suggests that the Crossing Traffic warning system, which monitors the surrounding area using radar sensors, is particularly useful when exiting from concealed junctions or driveways or when backing out of a parking space perpendicular to the road. The Crossroads and Wrong-Way warning systems avoid potentially hazardous situations at junctions where traffic on the other road has right of way and when joining motorways or entering a roundabout. The BMW Night Vision system is another option that gives a real-time video image in the Control Display that highlights any pedestrians, larger animals or other objects radiating heat. The vehicle can also be ordered with the Remote Control Parking feature to help drivers get into tight spaces.

So, as you can see, the 6 Series Gran Turismo, to give it its proper title, is packed with technology that may or may not all work wonderfully. We hope to find out at some point when we can spend some time with a car.

What is in no doubt is that if you and three friends (four at a pinch) have to do a cross-continent journey and you have chosen not to partake of Easyjet or Ryanair’s purgatorial offerings, a BMW 6GT is a fine way to make the miles disappear.