As I sit to pen, well type this review, I can only imagine how much controversy it will cause. Why do you ask? because of the car in question, the new BMW 6 Series GT. You see, not very long ago BMW had probably one of the best cars on the market, the 6 Series Gran Coupe. It was everything I envisaged in a car, sporty nature, good looks, the practicality of 4 doors and while it was a 4 seater only, it gave the impression of a sports limousine. I had the opportunity to drive the 640d around Johannesburg for a few days and my word, that car blew me away and to this day I haven't driven another car that gave me the experience as it did. Now there's a lust for this 6 Series badge than adorned the BMW, it had a good reputation as a luxury sports alternative for the high flying individual so when the German automaker decided to take that badge and put it on a GT model, it didn't bode well for many, including me.
You see, the GT line from BMW was never visually appealing like some of their other models, some even dubbed the first 5 Series GT as the Quasimodo of their line-up. It even looked like it had a hunched back but while I mocked it, when I got the chance to experience the 5 Series GT, I totally understood what its purpose was. Now you must be wondering why I was upset with the 6 being branded as a GT? Well for me the 6 Series always was a sports coupe, not a Grand Tourer and it took away some of that nostalgia from it, and going forward we might not see it return with the re-introduction of the 8 Series, but none the less I had the opportunity to spend a few days with the 6 Series GT in Cape Town, a great setting for such a car if I might add, and true to my expectations of the GT, it was delightful in every way as the 5 was and had so much more to offer.
While the badge might say 6, this is realistically the new 5 Series GT, since the design is based very much so on the current 5 Series and there is nothing wrong with that at all. It's very familiar from the front and side but move over to the back and you have this swooping roof that ends in a fastback design rear end which I have to admit is quite nice to look at. What makes the rear even more sexy is the air brake rear spoiler which deploys at high speeds or by a push of a button, if you want to look cool while driving around town. It also tilts a bit so you can pretend to be an F1 driver, adjusting some wing. There's not much I can say about the front that I haven't said about the 5, the active grille also is standard on the GT, the car does look overall bigger than the 5 which is hard to believe but when you get inside, you understand why there is some bulk.
Being a big fan of BMW's 2 litre diesel engine, having its big brother in this car was only going to make things better. The 630d GT comes powered with BMW's 3 litre, TwinPower Turbo engine. It is monstrous, delivering 195kW and 620Nm of torque, in sport mode and standing start, when you floor it, you might have to go back to get your face. That's how immense the torque is in this car, but that's not what the GT is all about. While the model range only includes two engine variants, this diesel and the 640i which is a 3 litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine, a car of this stature deserves a big engine to power it. It probably needs the power to carry it around as it is not small. Driving wise, this car is a beaut, the suspension is unlike any other Beemer I've driven, it all just feels more softer and lighter. Almost like you're gliding along on every route you take, the balance on the car is quite something as well. You'd expect to get a lot of roll with a car this size but there is little to none, this was testing properly along Champman's Peak drive....more than once.
With the 5 Series GT, it was all about comfort and I'm glad to say that BMW have kept that up with standard. The seats are very similar to the standard 5 series but with extra padding and a more comfy head rest with bendable sides that contour your head. Not quite sure what the function of that thing is but its pretty sweet. The options available to the buyer in terms of textures and trims are endless, I particularly loved the Cognac Dakota leather with diamond stitching that came in the model I had. Everything is virtually the same as the 5 series in terms of design but there are a few more toys available for you to choose from. The car came with the air ionizer built into the air-conditioning which is actually quite a smart idea, it detects when there is an odor in the car, whether it is from outside or in and there after puts a scent into the air that is pumped into the cabin. Moving into the back, it's the place where you'd want to be. Almost sofa like seats with the same pattern stitching, and a host of toys to keep the occupants busy.
Not a normal feature I have when doing reviews but this car is worthy of it, plus it has its own section in the brochure so I figured, why not? I've already spoke about the air ionizer and the active rear spoiler/ air brake but there is so much more! The adaptive LED headlights are more improved and it's seriously magic witnessing them in action, bending around corners, brightening dark parts of the road, dimming or moving the light away from oncoming cars, it's spell binding! The LED fog lights are pretty cool too, which increase short range visibility. The panoramic glass sunroof might sound like a gimmick for many but the introduction of natural light into the cabin really sets the ambiance for a great drive and when opened, it brings in a great deal of fresh air. Comfort access allows you to access the car by hand or foot with the key being on you, it's strength is really opening the boot by waving your foot under the car when all your hands are full. The rear passenger is the one who will be properly entertained with 2 large screens which have a host of features, one which I found really cool was screen mirror with your phone. So you can stream almost anything from your phone onto the screen.
While opinions may be out on BMW's GT, many will be pleased to hear that this will be the only GT model they would make as they have just announced the discontinuation of the 3 Series GT. It's a car that many won't understand and those who will, will enjoy very much. I still feel a bit aggrieved that BMW are bastardizing the 6 Series name but I honestly cannot fault this car, sure the price tag will make you choke on your drink but are really getting what you paid for in this car. Let people on the outside laugh at your odd looking BMW, but you can just turn up the volume on your Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround system by waving your arms with gesture control while the air ionizer musks the smell of their jealously. If you want a cruiser, this is the car you must get and while M Sport might be the popular package of choice for most BMW drivers, I suggest opting for the luxury line in this, it just takes that level of sophistication up a notch.
8 Speed Automatic Steptronic
R1 159 300*
*Excludes optional extras