Driving Therapy - BMW 6 Series GranTurismo
I have a huge inclination towards luxury GranTurismos. 5 years ago, I had the privilege of living with a BMW 3-series GT for the longest time in our test fleet and roamed almost the entire North India with it. The concept of GranTurismo emerged in the continent of Europe. When the countries formed the European Union and opened up their roads, more importantly, the unrestricted AutoBahns, to the citizens of one another. People wanted a car that was fast, spacious, can take the rough stuff sometimes and can go very long distances without taking constant fuel stops. And no other brand is the pioneer in making some of the greatest GT cars than BMW.
This is the BMW 6-series GranTurismo, the successor to the 5-series GranTurismo which was sold in India about a decade ago. Although the original 6-series from yesteryears is now succeeded as the 8-series. Very confusing nomenclature BMW has if you ask me. But what is not to be confused about is that this is one of the greatest long-distance touring machines on sale in India right now.
The 6-series we have is the 630i M-Sport which is powered by a 1,998cc, 16-valve, 4-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine with a Bore X Stroke of 82.0 X 94.6 mm, which produces 254 bhp of max power at 5,000 rpm and a healthy 400 Nm of max torque at 1,550 rpm. This is mated to an ultra-smooth ZF sourced 8-speed torque converter automatic gearbox connecting the engine to the rear wheels.
Essentially, this G32 6-series LCI is an extension to the platform of the G30 5-series LCI that we had before, But the similarities end there. The 630i at our disposal is 100 mm longer, 40 mm wider and 60 mm taller than the equivalent 530i that we had in TheRaceMonkey Garage a few months ago. The 3070 mm wheelbase is also the same as the G11 7-series LCI sold internationally. It is also 160 kgs heavier at 1,760 kgs than the G30 5-series.
The Looks Department...
The 6 looks imposing, larger dimensions bring it closer to the 7-series moniker in terms of outright visual appeal. We have been travelling around Rajasthan for the past couple of days and this shade of Piemont Red looks cohesive and splendid with the sandy backdrop everywhere I stopped and stared back at the car. The muscle lines, cuts and creases look glorious in light, with great reflections of the surfaces at dusk and dawn.
As much as the front end of this glorious machine looks identical to the 5-series LCI, the rear end is a complete departure from its platform sharer. When you view it from the rear quarters you realise how grand a drama the entire GT coupe roofline creates. The smooth lines and a subtle drop into the tail of the cars are an exquisite sight to behold. As a critic and a Mechanical Engineer too, I can sit beside the car, parked as it is in the picture above and drink in the magnificence of this design over a cup of tea. If you choose to sit with me over it, I'll make you beg for me to not believe this is an admirable architecture on wheels.
I have stopped so many times to overlook some incredible sights through Rajasthan with this parked on the road, and I have enjoyed every bit of what I saw under the sunlight thrown at different angles at different hours. There is something very classical about the silhouette of the 6-series, a very desirable yet distinct outlook of a modern car. Looks very much like Playboy magazine's top model Liz Glazowski from yesteryears in a cherry dress.
You'll be greeted by a cabin which has the highest level of quality any brand can achieve. I have started by talking about the quality part over aesthetics because this cabin feels the greatest to a blindfolded eye. The touch and feel of every surface of the 6-series is top grade and takes all my respects. Even the areas where your eyes or fingers might not reach are properly finished if I shrunk myself to an action figure, 18 times smaller than my size, I would not find a single nook or creek which has not been well engineered.
I particularly like this Dakota Leather espoused with the Fineline wood trim which is coated with a high-quality lacquer, giving it a very expensive look. The steering is round and does not try hard to be modern or sporty boasting a flat bottom. BMW uses real leather on their seats and door card, unlike some other luxury car manufacturers who have reduced to using vegan leather or leatherette which ups the game in quality in the durability of the seats. BMW's latest Live Cockpit Professional with a 12.3-inch display makes an entry on the 6-series as well besides the 5-series and gets wireless Android Auto / Apple CarPlay as well as a more sophisticated voice command system which does understand different Indian accents with ease. This also helped to keep my inner Haryanvi Boy activated while commanding different functions on the Voice Command system.
The iDrive system still is the most intuitive and elaborate Multi Media User interface to use in the industry, I have kept on saying it before, and I'll keep saying it till someone doesn't make it better than BMW's. Period.
At the rear is where I didn't get much of an opportunity to spend long hours, as compared to the hours I spent driving, but on a fine trip to Chandigarh and back with my chauffeur, I realised that this indeed is the rear cabin I will prefer over the Mercedes E-class'. Of course, the legroom at the back of the E-class is marginally better over the 6-series'. But the seat cushioning, the backrest positioning and angle as well as the under-thigh support feel slightly better in the 6-series than in the E-class. Also, the use of Artico leatherette in the Mercedes Benz over the Soft Genuine Leather seats in the BMW makes a huge difference in the overall feel of the seats. There are two Alcantara head cushions on the headrests too.
The Drive. Although this might look like a heavy car for a 2-litre engine to haul, it just zips away from the line in a snap's time. The 254 bhp peak power comes in easy with shorter ratios of the gears 1 to 3 making it an easy affair in kickdown accelerations. 400 Nm torque to comes at a pretty low 1,550 rpm which speaks volumes about the boost output of the twin-scroll turbocharger installed behind the engine. The acceleration from a standstill feels linear and there is no lag even when you try to overtake cars on the freeway at higher speeds.
What helps in containing the urgent motion inside the cabin during performance-oriented driving or long-distance cruising is the combination of Independent Double Wishbone Suspension with Coil Springs and an Anti-Roll Bar in the front and a Multilink Air Suspension with an anti-roll bar at the rear which makes it a seamless experience even when going over rough patches of the road.
Although my 630i M-Sport is equipped with the snazzy-looking 19-inch M rims kitted with 245/45 R19 tyres in the front and 275/40 R19 tyres at the rear, they barely filter in any harshness or undulation inside the chassis. I've been on some extremely rough patches and routes through farmlands in my road trip, all thanks electronically height adjustable suspension all around and not a single time did I or the 6-series break a sweat.
On highway speeds from 95 to 100 kmph, the peak torque is achieved driving on 7th gear. At this speed the thermal efficiency with respect to the aerodynamic efficiency peaks at sea level. This indeed is one of the most fuel-efficient mechanical setups in the history of performance petrol-powered setups. The fuel management system relaxes the spray of fuel in the cylinder at highway speeds and works at 1/100th of a second, managing the flow of fuel even in the change of the gradients.
With a recommended fuel quality of 95 octane petrol that I was using with this high compression motor, The 630i M-Sport achieved a maximum fuel economy figure of 21.7 kmpl with 3 people on board (including me) and 4 bags in the boot. And with a 68-litre fuel tank capacity, it can achieve a mind-boggling driving range of up to 1200 kms with a full tank. That is extremely impressive considering this car can also do a 0-100 kmph in 6.5 seconds. Again, that is what GranTurismos are built to do. Long distance sprints, being efficient and rapid at the same time.
Points to Ponder:
1. The 6-series gets a comprehensive suite of features, especially in the M-sport trim, with great additions like n active rear spoiler and a height-adjustable suspension which is a boon on long-distance journeys.
2. The Adaptive LED headlamps on the G32 LCI cars are the best in the industry. The crown was once with Mercedes Benz, now it has been respectfully taken back. The thrown and spread of the light beam is excellent at night and helps reduce fatigue in low visibility conditions.
3. The 464 W Harman/Kardon surround sound system might not be a deal maker when compared to Volvo S90's exquisite Bower and Wilkins system but the sound is sharp and it has a high-quality feel to it, which is a high point in the overall audio experience.
4. The 12.3-inch iDrive touch screen infotainment is top grade, there is no comparison in the industry because of its ease of usability and response timing. The best thing is that BMW has retained the rotor dial in the central console to control the iDrive system which gets high marks for safety and ergonomics from me.
5. The front seats are luxurious, they hold you better and have a better feel than the ones in the Mercedes Benz E-class.
6. Frameless doors are, were and will always remain the sexiest element in any car. BMW nailed this part of the aesthetics.
7. BMW uses Glasurit Paint finishes which are known to be one of the best in the world. Rolls Royce uses it too. So basically, your BMW 6-series has the same paint quality as the Rolls Royce Phantom of that billionaire you bumped into at an event.
8. There could have been more options in Ambient Lighting colours, BMW is reduced to using the same colour schemes as before. An upgrade we must get soon!
9. The rear doors open up quite wide which is an important thing during egress and ingress. It also makes the event of attaching a child seat at the rear ISOFIX points easy.
10. BMW's 3-year / 40,000 km Service Inclusive plus package costs Rs.1.04 L and is a must-have addition during your purchase. Although BMW's after-sales service quality is one of the greatest in the industry, it is always good to have a pre-paid package for your peace of mind.
BMW knows he art of building the greatest driving machines in the world. And they have scaled it up to 10 with the 6-series GT. I love the way it looks, love the way it makes me feel when I am behind its wheel. It is a sanctuary of ethereal materials and impeccable built quality, something the cars from the competitive brands have been discounting off their priority list. I can go for hours without breaking a sweat, explore the greatness of the country without being anxious about losing all the fuel in my tank for days. The 630i GT is without a question the queen of long distance touring, and it rules every bit of my heart.
A great therapy to even the 7th sense. A sense only true car enthusiasts have!