Editor's note: This review was written in September 2014 about the 2014 BMW 640 Gran Coupe. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2015, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.
It has coupe-like style and grace in spades, but the 2014 BMW 640i Gran Coupe also has a shocking price tag, yet still doesn't include many of the luxury and safety features you'd expect.
When is a coupe not a coupe? When it's the 2014 BMW 640i Gran Coupe. BMW already makes what most people in the world consider to be a coupe — its 6 Series coupe has two doors, a conventional trunk and the requisite low and swoopy styling. But if you add 4.5 inches to the wheelbase and two more full-size doors, is it still a coupe, or is it a sedan? BMW says it's still a coupe, and in the brand's bizarre desire to fill every single automotive segment with an entry (and apparently conjure up some segments out of thin air), we have the gleaming silver car I spent a week with.
For 2014, BMW has added an available all-wheel-drive xDrive system, as well as a few trim tweaks; compare the 2014 and 2015 models here. Wonky naming aside, the question becomes: Has BMW crafted something desirable and worthy of its lofty price tag, a handsome competitor to the equally handsome Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS and Porsche Panamera?
Exterior & Styling
I spent a week with the 640i Gran Coupe immediately after spending a week with a 2014 BMW 535d sedan, essentially the traditional four-door version of the 6 Series coupe (the 640i Gran Coupe being a nontraditional four-door version of the 6 Series coupe). Both cars showed up in the same silver paint, with the same optional M Sport package bringing identical wheels and more aggressive aerodynamic body flares. But after comparing them next to each other, one starts to understand the idea behind the 640i Gran Coupe — all the functionality of the 5 Series, but with a significant dose of style that the 5 is lacking. It appears as if an enormous hand took a 5 Series and squashed it, resulting in a low, wide, fat-shouldered sedan with a coupe-like roofline that looks fantastic. The headlights, front bumper and grille are the same as a 6 Series coupe, as is the rear end. But the 4.4-inch stretch in the middle that allows a usable backseat doesn't create an awkward-looking coupe; it creates a strikingly stylish sedan.
How It Drives
The 640i Gran Coupe is powered by the same standard engine that's available in the 5 Series and 6 Series — a 315-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. It's mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, with newly available all-wheel drive optional for 2014. For more power, you can step up to the optional 445-hp, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 in the 650i Gran Coupe or the 560-hp version in the M6 Gran Coupe, but the standard I-6 is more than up to the task of moving the slinky sedan out on the road with easy speed.
Acceleration is strong — more so when the Sport or Sport+ modes are engaged on the standard BMW Drive Select system, which adjusts throttle input and transmission gear selection programs for a much more aggressive experience. Handling is tighter than in a 5 Series sedan, tuned for a more sporting experience but definitely not what one would call a sports car; it's more of a grand touring car, a big coupe that can more than handle itself when roads get twisty and the driver wants to have some fun.
The ride feels very similar to the 5 Series sedan, composed and firm, with more serious bumps getting through to the cabin with a bang, but able to soak up most surface changes without much fuss. The brakes are strong and grippy, with excellent pedal feel. The 640i Gran Coupe has a sportier feel than many of its rivals, besting the Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS for aggressive driving feedback, but it can't touch the Porsche Panamera, which trounces the BMW when the two are compared as sport sedans.
The BMW 640i xDrive Gran Coupe is EPA rated at 20/29/23 mpg city/highway/combined, which is not bad at all for a large, heavy sport sedan. My week of testing netted about 24 mpg thanks to some longer highway road trips and judicious use of the throttle. The Audi A7 quattro gets 18/28/21 mpg with its supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, but an available turbo-diesel option boosts that to 24/38/29 mpg, a significant increase in fuel economy. The Mercedes-Benz CLS is available in the U.S. only as a V-8-powered CLS 550, with a correspondingly lower 17/24/19 mpg with all-wheel drive, while the Porsche Panamera 4 comes in slightly less than the BMW at 18/27/21 mpg. It should be noted that the Porsche is also available as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which achieves 25 mpg combined but is also operable in electric mode for up to 16 miles.
The 640i Gran Coupe shares much of its cockpit with the 6 Series coupe, including the dash and doors, but the center console is slightly different — it stretches into the backseat to provide what's called a “4+1” seating arrangement. There are technically seat belts for five people, but that fifth person is sitting on a hump in the backseat, with legs splayed on either side of the center console. It's terribly uncomfortable, and I can't see anyone actually using it, so, realistically, the Gran Coupe is a four-seater, just like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Porsche Panamera.
Backseat headroom is only marginally less than you'd find in a 5 Series, and it's still plentiful for front occupants. The car is bigger than its competitors, as well, but it doesn't feel like it inside — likely due to the tight shoulder room, front and rear. Visibility is acceptable, but a little obscured toward the rear due to a gun slit of a rear window, the low sloping roofline and thick rear pillars. Seating comfort and material quality are good, but no better than a much less expensive BMW 5 Series; the materials are certainly a step below the interiors in any of its competitors. The wood trim in a $30,000 Chevrolet Malibu looks more genuine than the trim adorning this far more expensive BMW, and both the A7 and Panamera have options for some truly stunning interior combinations. The interior simply doesn't feel as special as the exterior, leading many riding in it to declare that the Gran Coupe felt like a really nice $45,000 car — but inadequately luxurious for an $89,000 car.
Ergonomics & Electronics
BMW's latest iDrive system is present in the 640i Gran Coupe, and as in other BMWs I've tested this year, it works well, with easy-to-use menus, quick responses and a useful suite of apps. The big display is located atop the center control panel and is easy to view at a glance, while the controls for the screen reside on the console between the front occupants. It's easy to reach and use by intuitive feel alone, and after a while you won't have to take your eyes off the road to locate the appropriate button. The rest of the interior controls are also easy to locate and use — BMW does well with ergonomics and the design of a car's controls — but they don't feel any more special than those in the less expensive 5 Series.
Cargo & Storage
Pop the trunk (it has a remote-powered opening feature, but oddly no push-button closing) to reveal 16.2 cubic feet of luggage room (2.2 cubic feet more than a 5 Series sedan), expandable by dropping the backseats for longer, larger items. This compares favorably to the 15.3 cubic feet in the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the 15.7 cubic feet in the Porsche Panamera, but is dwarfed by the Audi A7's 24.5 cubic feet of room (it's a hatchback).
The 640i Gran Coupe has not yet been crash-tested. As with nearly all BMWs, a lot of electronic safety systems are available — and almost all of them are extra-cost options. Standard on the 640i Gran Coupe are front and rear parking sensors and a backup camera, as well as bi-xenon headlights. Items like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and lane keep assist are optional. More disturbing is that even with the sticker price of $89,675, my test vehicle did not have any of these additional safety features except for the adaptive cruise control. See what does come standard on a 640i Gran Coupe here.
Value in Its Class
The 2014 BMW 640i Gran Coupe has a starting price of $78,550 including destination; that rises to $81,550 if you select the all-wheel-drive xDrive model. BMW's “Line” packages are selectable, with my vehicle featuring the M Sport Package for $4,400, which includes 19-inch wheels, LED fog lights, an aerodynamic body kit, a sport steering wheel and blacked-out exterior trim. Adaptive cruise control adds $2,500, multi-contour seats add another $1,300, and a Cold Weather Package throws in a heated steering wheel and heated backseat for $450. This brings the total to $90,200, an extraordinary sum for a luxury car that's lacking some more advanced safety features. Build one for yourself here.
It's not entirely out of line with competitors, however. The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is available only with a twin-turbo V-8 in the U.S., as the CLS550, but even with this more powerful engine and more equipment it starts $6,000 less, at $75,525. The Audi A7 3.0T Premium comes only with quattro all-wheel drive, and its supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 matches up well against the BMW in terms of power and efficiency. It's considerably less expensive than the BMW, with a starting price of $65,395. That's more than $15,000 less than the BMW for a car that's arguably more stylish. If it's sporting ability you're after, however, look no further than a Porsche Panamera 4, the all-wheel-drive variant that's 350 pounds lighter than the BMW. Its styling is more polarizing than the Gran Coupe's, and it's unfortunately more expensive, starting at $83,795, so you're paying just as much of a premium for the Porsche shield as the BMW badge. Compare them all here.