BMW 630d xDrive Gran Turismo M Sport
- P11D Value/BIK: £56,050 / 29%
- 5-door hatchback
- 261bhp/620Nm 3-litre, 6cyl diesel / 8-speed auto
- Economy (comb) / CO2: 47.8mpg / 154g/km
- Performance: 6.0sec / 155mph
What is it?
If there’s a niche, there’s a good chance that BMW will build a car to fill it. The 5 Series GT has now gone, replaced by the longer, sleeker 6 Series Gran Turismo. It’s more than a simple facelift, with the new model stretching to be as big as the luxury 7 Series saloon, but adding hatchback practicality and a slightly SUV-esque raised seating position.
Passengers sit 6cm higher than in the more traditional 5 Series; high enough to offer a commanding view of the road, but low enough not to hamper the handling significantly, meaning it retains the essence of what makes a BMW a BMW.
Improving the handling has been made easier thanks to the car shedding 150kg, and is aided by some sophisticated suspension borrowed from both the 5 and 7 and, in the case of this review model, optional air suspension at an extra cost of £1,670.
With prices ranging from around £46,000 to £57,000, and a choice of just two petrol engines and one diesel, it’s easy to find the right spec, but it doesn’t make pigeon holing the car any easier. It’s not an estate, a high-riding SUV or a luxury saloon, but blurs the line between all three and exists with no direct competitors.
We get behind the wheel of the business-friendly BMW 630d xDrive Gran Turismo M Sport to see if the Gran Turismo is a solution looking for a problem to solve.
- Evolutionary styling is a great success. Gone is the slab-sided heavy look of the 5 GT, replaced by something that can almost be described as sleek.
- The sheer size of the car translates to excellent interior space. There is headroom to spare both front and back, even with a panoramic roof in place, while the rear seats will take two adults without any problems at all. The rear legroom is particularly generous.
- Boot space is also exceptional, with some 1,800 litres available with the seats down – that’s more than in a 5 Series estate, although the sloping roofline makes squeezing in boxy items rather more difficult than it could be.
- Performance is prodigious, thanks to 620Nm of torque that pushes the car forward in a seemingly never ending wave of power. British speed limits pass by long before the engine starts to lose enthusiasm. It’s all harnessed by a super-smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, standard across the entire range, that changes almost imperceptibly.
- Economy of 47.8mpg is promised officially, and low 40s would seem reasonable on a long cruise. Losing the four-wheel drive system will save £2,300 on the list price, and improve economy by another 10% or so.
- The xDrive four-wheel drive system keeps the Gran Turismo in check on corner exits. With all that torque, unsticking the tyres is theoretically easy, but the smooth transition of power to all four-wheels ensures there’s traction at all times.
- For such a large beast, handling is surprisingly competent. The front end feels extraordinarily heavy as the car turns into a corner, but it never fails to make that turn in, before gripping tenaciously. Body roll is reasonably controlled too, and all without upsetting the ride quality. That smooths imperfections remarkably well, but switch from Comfort to Sport and it’s perhaps a little too compromised.
- A combination of sound proofing and incredible attention to aerodynamic details results in a car that is unnaturally quiet. There’s little tyre or wind noise, and the engine is imperceptible until demands are raised significantly.
- Whilst £50+ thousand is a lot of money, the GT sits almost perfectly in the middle of the 5 and 7, offering an excellent balance of both models – the space and luxury of the larger saloon, with the agility and practicality of the 5 Series Touring.
- The sheer bulk of the car makes it unwieldy in urban areas, especially in some of the more historic (read narrow) city streets in the country. While braking and turning into to sharper corners, the weight feels unstoppable, but big brakes don’t let the side down.
- Switching the optional air suspension to Sport mode introduces a degree of firmness to the suspension that is unbecoming the sophisticated nature of the car, upsetting the ride without adding anything significant to the handling capabilities.
- The options list is longer than the car, with items you might assume would be fitted costing significant amounts of money; the list price of this car had an extra £14,265 added to it, including a Technology Pack (£1,495), Premium Package (£2,445), Rear Seat Comfort Package (£2,995) and Driving Assistant Plus (£2,250) amongst other items. However, even without these extras the core of the car remains the same.
- A spoiler pops out of the bootlid at 75mph, reducing lift and improving stability, but also announcing to those around that you have somehow managed to exceed the UK motorway speed limit.
Verdict on BMW 630d xDrive Gran Turismo M Sport
The 6 Series Gran Turismo does offer something to please those that want a little more exclusivity than another four-door saloon or me-too SUV, and there is no doubt that the behemoth has enough of a luxury ambience to keep all but the most demanding of customers happy.
However, that slightly awkward styling, whilst improved from its predecessor, lacks the style and prestige of its saloon siblings to really stand out, or the presence of the big X5 and forthcoming X7 SUVs.
It’s also a difficult choice for company car drivers, as the high P11d value and BIK rates mean that company car tax bills will be more significant than for its cheaper alternatives.
However, that might not matter to the company director looking at one on a personal lease, where the rates won’t be significantly more than the BIK payments alone.
Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Gran Turismo, there’s little benefit over other rivals from within the BMW stable, making it a tricky car to justify. However, that this oddball choice may not cost quite as much as the list price may suggest makes it easier to defend for those wanting to stand out, but not too much.