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COMPARISON TESTS BMW 640d Gran Coupe vs rivals

Discussion in 'Internal Combustion' started by Human, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. Human

    Human You. The Road. Nothing else. Premium Member

    BMW has launched its own CLS rival, but can the 6 Series Gran Coupe beat Mercedes and Porsche?
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    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Mercedes must be feeling rather good about itself. It was the first company to create a four-door luxury coupe – with the CLS in 2005 – and its rivals have been scrabbling to follow suit ever since.
    The latest to join the pack is BMW. Its 6 Series Gran Coupe arrives this month, from £61,390. The four-door is essentially a stretched version of the 6 Series Coupe, and straddles the 5 Series and 7 Series line-ups in BMW’s busy range. It’s available with a pair of six-cylinder engines from launch, and here we test the £63,900 640d SE.
    Having started the four-door premium coupe sector all that time ago, the CLS has the advantage of being one step ahead of the competition. It’s now in its second generation, and offers head-turning looks, a broad engine range and sharper dynamics than its predecessor. We’ve chosen the mid-range CLS 350 CDI Sport, priced at £54,210.
    Completing our test trio is the Porsche Panamera. It sets the standard for driving thrills in this class, plus in £62,134 diesel guise it should be affordable to run.
    All three cars are stylish alternatives to the conventional premium saloon – but in a market where design is king, which is the best all-round package?
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    1 ST Place
    Mercedes CLS 350 CDI

    If BMW wants to gain the upper hand in the increasingly busy four-door coupe market, this is the car it will have to beat. The Mercedes CLS is now in its second evolution, and builds on the strengths of its predecessor, which proved a surprise hit for the brand first time around.
    Based on the platform and running gear of the E-Class saloon, the CLS is a more complex package than its predecessor. If you loved the original for its clean, flowing lines, there’s a chance that the current version’s bulges and sharp edges may leave you cold. When parked alongside the 6 Series Gran Coupe during our test, certain elements did look a little fussy.
    With the exception of a few minor styling tweaks the cabin is carried over from the E-Class saloon, which is no bad thing. The seats are comfortable – and ours came with the £1,310 option of dynamic bolsters which hold you in when cornering – while the column-mounted gearshift is easy to live with and frees up space for the intuitive COMAND infotainment control system.
    In an effort to distance it from the E-Class, Mercedes offers the CLS only with seating for two in the back. Although this means each rear occupant gets a more sculpted chair, the oversized armrest that runs the full length of the car confines passengers’ legs strictly to the area behind the front seats. This, combined with the low roofline and chunky door furniture, means that six-footers will find the back of the car rather cramped.
    Another area where the CLS disappoints is quality. Overall the cabin feels solid and upmarket, but some elements of the dash trim – notably the rotary controls for the heating – seem disappointingly cheap. On the plus side, the CLS boasts the biggest boot of our test trio with a volume of 520 litres.
    Unlike BMW, Mercedes doesn’t reserve special engine options solely for the CLS range. The 265bhp 3.0-litre CDI diesel and standard seven-speed automatic box will be familiar to owners of other Mercedes, and the car proves a fair match for the more powerful BMW, recording a 0-60mph time that’s only half-a-second slower. It also feels quicker and more eager to accelerate than the Gran Coupe, particularly from low speeds.
    Away from the track, our CLS didn’t seem quite as sharp as its rivals. It’s composed and capable through a series of turns, but the steering feels over-assisted, particularly at low speeds. And despite our car’s £1,500 optional air-suspension, the ride wasn’t quite as supple as the smooth BMW’s.
    However, the Mercedes looks something of a bargain against the competition here. Even after you’ve added creature comforts such as air-suspension, dynamic massage seats and upgraded leather trim, you’ll still be paying thousands less than you would for the BMW or Porsche.
    So while the CLS isn’t perfect, with such a significant price advantage it’s easy to overlook the car’s few failings.
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    2 ND Place
    BMW 640d Gran Coupe

    It’s difficult to explain exactly why the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe exists. As its name suggests, the newcomer is a four-door version of the 6 Series coupe. And that, in turn, is a two-door version of the 5 Series, which already has a sporty spin-off in the form of the Gran Turismo.
    Yet despite its mangled family tree, the 6 Series Gran Coupe has a coherence and grace to its styling that we haven’t seen from the brand for some years. Although the front end doesn’t quite have the visual impact you’d expect, the flowing roofline, chiselled shoulders and tapered tail all gel together beautifully.
    The car is also packed with clever and evocative details. Pull the rear door open and a sleek Gran Coupe logo is revealed in the shut panel next to the car’s trademark Hofmeister kink C-pillar. Run your eye along the front wing and you’ll spot an elegant chrome flash which harks back to classic BMW coupes and roadsters of the fifties.
    The designers also get top marks for the interior layout, which combines high-end luxury with a raft of clever gadgets. The first thing that strikes you is the vast display that sits on top of the dashboard. As wide as the screen on a laptop, it dominates the front of the cabin and delivers crisp graphics which make easy work of navigating the 640’s countless features.
    The BMW also scores for cabin space. Head and legroom in the front are predictably generous, but it’s in the back where the Gran Coupe really impresses. By extending the wheelbase by 113mm, carving out the door panels and stretching the seat bench the full width of the car, BMW has created a far more inviting space for those confined to the rear.
    There are, however, a couple of features that don’t quite work. The operation of the gearshift is blighted by a clumsy unlock button and a rocker-style selection mechanism that feels far from intuitive. Instead of sliding the lever back until you reach the desired gear, you have to pull or push a number of times as it scrolls through the options.
    The seats also proved something of an issue during our week-long test. Even though they offer adjustment in pretty much every direction, a number of testers struggled to get comfortable on long journeys.
    Thankfully, one area of the Gran Coupe that didn’t divide opinion was the drivetrain. While the engine is based on the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel that appears in the 7 Series, in the 6 Series it offers 10bhp more. The car also features a newer transmission: an eight-speed auto borrowed from the 5 Series range.
    Despite being such a mix and match, the 640d’s drivetrain works beautifully. With deep reserves of low-range pulling power and perfectly spaced ratios, the car punches out of corners with an eagerness that belies its 1,865kg kerbweight. Plus, the box has a manual function that allows shifts via a pair of neatly fashioned steering wheel paddles, and this ensured the BMW was the only car of our test trio that felt happy letting its driver make the choices.
    Thanks to its 5 Series underpinnings, the Gran Coupe also delivers when it comes to driving dynamics. It strikes a fine balance between sportiness and refinement – soaking up surface imperfections without robbing the driver of feedback from the road surface. The front end is accurate and easy to place, while the car’s agility through twisting sections of tarmac speaks volumes for BMW’s chassis know-how.
    But if we have a criticism of the Gran Coupe, it has to be value for money. With a basic price of £63,900, the 640d is the most expensive car in this test – it costs £1,766 more than the Panamera and £9,690 more than the CLS. Although the BMW does come with a generous kit list, it offers no more space or performance than its two rivals here. So while it’s an easy car to love, your devotion will be sorely tested when you’re asked to sign on the dotted line.
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    3 RD Place
    Porsche Panamera

    One thing you are guaranteed to get if you own a Panamera is attention. The five-door Porsche is taller and wider than the BMW and Mercedes, and is imposing to look at and sit in. Combining supercar-style details with brutal proportions, it’s not for those who like to blend into the background. However, in a market where sleek styling and sophistication are key factors, the Panamera doesn’t quite hit the mark.
    Porsche’s desire to be different extends to the cabin, where the Panamera stands out from the crowd in a number of important ways. Given the car’s larger dimensions, the interior feels bigger and more accommodating, with a greater glass area allowing more light in. The rear seats mirror the designs of those in front, and give decent amounts of head and legroom.
    Up front the seats are supportive but narrow, and while they do without gadgets like the Mercedes’ pneumatic bolstering, they proved the most comfortable of our test trio.
    However, travelling in the Panamera isn’t quite as relaxing as it could be. By shunning a central control system for the car’s infotainment devices, Porsche has been forced to pebbledash the centre console and steering column with an array of buttons, sliders and dials. As a result, many are obscured by the chunky gearshift or clustered under the sat-nav screen.
    Under the bonnet is a 3.0-litre diesel engine that develops 247bhp and 550Nm of torque. Sourced from the vast Audi parts bin, it serves up solid performance without ever feeling too strained. We covered 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, although the in-gear times were no match for the muscular BMW’s.
    Our testers also called into question the manual gearbox controls. Instead of paddles, the car features large rocker buttons located on the steering wheel. Not only are these fiddly to use, they defy conventional gearchange wisdom by requiring the driver to push to change up. Fortunately, one area where the Panamera does shine is chassis refinement. Although the car’s sheer bulk makes it unwieldy on narrow country roads, the steering is accurate and perfectly weighted.
    The Porsche also rides surprisingly well. Adaptive dampers (which come as part of the £1,052 PASM option) deliver a firmer feel if you want a sportier set-up, while in Comfort mode the car glides across poor surfaces with ease.
    With a £62,134 price tag, the Panamera undercuts the Gran Coupe and initially looks decent value for money. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll soon discover that the list of standard equipment is far from generous. For starters, there are those expensive adaptive dampers, while the arch-filling 20-inch wheels fitted to our test car will set you back a further £2,249. Even a rear wiper – pretty essential on a car with a hatchback tailgate – adds £235 to the total. Factor these in, and the case for the Panamera isn’t quite so solid.
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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 8, 2012
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  2. Deckhook

    Deckhook Banned

    I actually prefer the style of the CLS interior best of all here, though exterior has to be the GC.

    I think the reviewers got the order right on this occasion.
     
  3. Just_me

    Just_me Well-Known Member

    The BMW also scores for cabin space. Head and legroom in the front are predictably generous, but it’s in the back where the Gran Coupe really impresses. By extending the wheelbase by 113mm, carving out the door panels and stretching the seat bench the full width of the car, BMW has created a far more inviting space for those confined to the rear.


    I have to say that 6-series has the best design but gosh these cars are too big for my taste. CLS seem to take the victory based on price advantage. Panamera still leaving me cold from design POV.
     
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  4. EKaru

    EKaru Active Member

    BMW will have a hard time selling this car because of the pricing... The 6-series coupes aren't selling well and they're still new to the market.
    Here's a 650i convertible for $15K off the sticker price and still no buyers.
    http://www.bmwofpeoria.com/new/BMW/2012-BMW-650i-9327c1ca0a0a006401620d92efecdba4.htm
     
  5. K-A

    K-A Banned

    "If you loved the original for its clean, flowing lines, there’s a chance that the current version’s bulges and sharp edges may leave you cold. When parked alongside the 6 Series Gran Coupe during our test, certain elements did look a little fussy."

    Glad to see these reviewers all at least have an eye for design still.
     
  6. Guibo

    Guibo Well-Known Member

    ^That's not exactly a widely popular color combination. While I personally like it, I could see how others would describe it as gaudy/garish, too vulgar for their tastes. I'm not sure which model from MB/Audi we should be comparing that car to. Even in a still-sluggish economy, its sales are way ahead from past years, in the US at least. Over the past 5 months, it's averaged 587/mo (vs 160 in 2011, 164 in 2010) and appears on its way to be close to pre-recession levels. In Germany, it's been selling slightly better than the 7er.

    Another interesting bit from the AE article:
    Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)
    6GC: £35,401 / 55.4%
    CLS: £24,232 / 44.7%
    Panamera: £32,185 / 51.8%

    So while you do spend 9k more initially, you could end up selling the car for a price 11k higher. While enjoying a more stylish car, with better interior, more seat space, and (according to this test at least) better driving dynamics and ride quality. For those who care, it's also faster. Overall running costs (tax, fuel, insurance, road tax combined) appear to be lower too. But since, as they say in the article, "design is king" in this sector, it's not hopelessly outclassed on price. I would argue it's not even in the same class as the CLS to begin with, and BMW have already stated as such.


    "VERDICTS

    All three of these cars combine sportiness with striking design and surprisingly affordable running costs. And, if we were judging purely on engineering, design and ability alone, the new BMW Gran Coupe would be a clear winner. It’s handsome, fast and beautifully made, and a delicious combination of form and function. But there’s a problem – it’s too expensive. Even with similar levels of kit, BMW wants £10,000 more for the car than Mercedes asks for the CLS.
    The Panamera sits between the two on price, but finishes this test in third. The styling doesn’t push the same buttons as a 911 or Boxster, while the engine and drivetrain feel a little ordinary in a car of this calibre. It drives well, looks solid and delivers surprisingly palatable running costs, but it lacks character and simply doesn’t deliver the right feeling - whichever seat you’re in.
    All of this leaves the CLS as the winner of this test. Although it disappoints in some areas, it’s a well balanced package with a fine engine and loads of kit. We can’t often call a Mercedes a bargain, but in this company it really is a steal.
    Winner
    Mercedes CLS ★★★★
    There’s a lot to like about the CLS – not only its price. The styling isn’t as elegant as the original, but it’s still a head-turner with some very clever details. The CDI engine is another highlight, and helps deliver a wonderfully smooth drive – especially when travelling at motorway pace.
    2nd
    BMW 640d Gran Coupe ★★★★​
    Thanks to its gorgeous styling, intelligent cabin and powerhouse of an engine, the Gran Coupe is a wonderfully competent package. It has the edge on performance, and also feels the most cohesive design here. If BMW could make its price more competitive, this would be the class leader*.
    3rd
    Porsche Panamera ★★★★
    The five-door Panamera has a lot going for it, but in this company it doesn’t quite hit the mark. Although the chassis is pure Porsche, the engine lacks character and the styling is hard to love. It delivers decent fuel returns and bags of space inside; that’s just not enough in this company."
    *Considering BMW set out to compete against the Panamera, it looks on the face of this article to have done a pretty good job. Maybe the decision was "right" in this case, because there was no Audi rounding out the bottom. ;)
     
  7. EKaru

    EKaru Active Member

    lol, I just think it's a bit too pricey vs the competition, given its performance

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    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-bmw-640i-gran-coupe-road-test-review
     
  8. K-A

    K-A Banned

    Is this referring to the CLS? If so, I definitely understand the boost in sales. First off, the CLS by nature is a fashion-accessory-design. The first one, considering it *was not a matured market* sold very well initially, then sales literally stalled, while its more conventional E-Class brethren of course sold strong up until its last year in production. Same will happen to this one I'm sure, however, for now, it was the first re-design to spike up the CLS sales once again, and being 7 years later and a now matured market, sales should naturally set records.

    Second, the value of the CLS is GREAT this time. Not only is it a bargain compared to BMW, but you get a standard TT V8, you get a STANDARD AMG Package (in the States), and the Options are very cheap. Basically, if you negotiate right, you can get a well loaded CLS in the 70's easy, and better probably in some cases.

    I SERIOUSLY wish that M-B designed the CLS well enough to fit my 6'4 height in the front seat, instead of the pathetic 36.9 Frontal headroom we get. BMW designed an EVEN SLEEKER car, and IT DOES fit my height in it. If I could come around on the CLS styling, it would be in my sights right now after an E-Class.

    IMO, styling wise, BMW kept the ideals of the original CLS more intact than M-B did. The new CLS concentrates on avant-garde details, and is more upright than the previous one (more Sedan-ish), while the GC concentrates on dramatic proportions to tell the story, a'la the original CLS.
     
  9. Merc1

    Merc1 Well-Known Member Contributing Member

    All three interiors look really good here. The BMW is the styling winner here for me easily. The Panamera though would be the driving choice, all non-diesels here in the U.S. of course. CLS interior is great, but just can't get with the rest of the car.

    M
     
  10. Guibo

    Guibo Well-Known Member

    No, I was referring to the 6-Series, and in particular that black car with red interior that was posted. (Sorry, meant to reply to one of the posts above yours.)
    How much would the option cost that gets the CLS to look as sleek/unfussy as the 6GC? And the option that gives you the same space? ;)
    On paper, the Merc looks to be the bargain. But you either have the money for the 6GC or you don't, and if you do and you like the styling etc, then there's a good possibility the BMW gets the sale. At this part of the market and within the "coupe" class, surely emotion and style count. Probably moreso than concerns of performance/$.
     
  11. NSL

    NSL Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know this may be a bit off topic (sorry guys), but I just looked at that link above (since it seemed like a good deal... less than what I paid for my E64) and let me tell you right off the bat:
    When you place your order, usually a thousand bucks and some paperwork gets your order going and then you just wait for your car to be built and delivered.
    Whenever the order is for a car with unusual color combinations the dealers will request that you pay a much bigger deposit (and this goes for any of these brands, be it Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc). 15k is not uncommon. I remember this from a Mercedes dealer when asked why that brand new S55 was heavily discounted, the sales guy said, just look at the interior.. it was a combination that only Santa Claus or one of his reindeers would have ordered (green outside, red inside)..

    So bottom line, you can see from that BMW dealer that the selection of those interior/exterior color combinations were by someone that most likely already paid the 15k up front to get it going and then they cancelled (it happens, reason why dealers ask for much bigger, non-refundable deposits). Now the dealer is 'stuck' with a 105k car that very few will want to buy; so as an incentive the dealer is passing the savings (the deposit already paid) to the next owner.

    So, no, they are not giving them away... ;)
     
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  12. Deckhook

    Deckhook Banned

    You all class black with red leather an odd combination?

    I would class that in a convertible quite traditional.
     
  13. Merc1

    Merc1 Well-Known Member Contributing Member

    That's a very pricey car for a small town BMW dealer. This is southern IL, far outside of Chicago and the market for such a pricey and admittedly uniquely optioned convertible is small, but in a larger market that car would have been gone. Peoria Illinois is small as ...


    M
     
  14. EKaru

    EKaru Active Member

  15. Deckhook

    Deckhook Banned

    ^I know from personal experience when the brother was considering an A8 or S-class that right from the off they were offering 15% discount and when pushed as much as a further 5% was on the table. Maybe the 6 series also falls into this category of huge discounts but this will not only by different from country to country but in the case of America state to state depending to demand.
     
  16. NSL

    NSL Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you are quite right Merc1. This particular color combination would sell fast in a larger market.

    Nope, not odd but unusual..
    No worries EKaru, we can create a new thread and move these off topic posts there.
    Thanks for the research on these.
     
  17. Guibo

    Guibo Well-Known Member

    Reason given by the Corvette engineer on why the 60th Anniversary Corvette editions, despite being white like the old roadsters of the '50s, don't have red interiors: "People love it [red interiors]. A lot more people think it's a little too gaudy, so we wanted to do something that was a little more mainstream."
     
  18. Deckhook

    Deckhook Banned

    Things must be different for country to country because I can't tell you the number a 911 verts with red leather I've seen.
     
  19. Guibo

    Guibo Well-Known Member

  20. fortuner

    fortuner Well-Known Member

    Reading about the CLS interior i am sorry i cant agree...I sat in many CLS and the quality is great...The air vent dials are round yes but their is nothing wrong in its quality i also have the same ones in my ML and i have no quality complains...Yup maybe they like the E Styled switches which i like also but i must say the rotary knob does a perfect job and faster i must say...no quality issues totally disagree...
     
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