Why I would buy it?
- Rear seat space
- Ride quality
Why I would avoid it?
- Feature list
The BMW 6GT is a 5 Series with extra space and practicality and if that’s what you want from your BMW then this car should be your pick of the lot. It’s got the looks, interior space, performance and massive boot matching the likes of many equivalently sized and priced crossovers but with better road manners. While its feature list meets the requirements of the segment, it lacks certain feel-good features that its rivals across the table offer something quite evident if you are considering this car for a chauffeur-driven experience.
Engine and Performance
In our review, we have driven the 6GT 630i that’s powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 258bhp/400Nm and mated to an eight-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels. While BMW's V8s and V10s are its drool-worthy wall art, their four-cylinder engines, a mainstay of their line up for decades now, are pictures that are no less impressive.
It takes just a light dab on the throttle to understand that this is an engine that’s eager to be driven with enthusiasm. There’s an ample amount of torque to get you off the line quickly and let you climb speeds without much effort. The first few times the launch from a standstill will take you by surprise and you would hardly realise that you have hit three-digit speeds. This happy build-up of speed is backed by one very important number - 6.77 seconds which is the 0-100kmph time, an impressive figure considering the size of the car and the engine. This kind of performance also rewards you with a sweet-sounding engine note especially if you have the car in sport mode and pushing it to the redline in every gear.
However, what’s also impressive is how BMW has tuned the engine and gearbox combination for some great mid-range which means that you always have enough grunt to make your way around slow-moving traffic whatever be the scenario. In our tests, it did 20-80kmph kickdown in 4.04 seconds while the 40-100kmph kickdown was achieved in 4.54 seconds. They are improvements over the previous car and are an ample showcase of the engine’s tractability in the city and low-speed driving conditions. It’s also so useable that you can be involved in the driving experience or just put the car into D mode and let the engine do its thing in the background.
As a part of the deal, you get multiple driving modes- Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro each of which controls the damping, engine revs as well as the aggressiveness of the gearbox. Eco Pro is the least aggressive of the lot and is most effective in low-speed city scenarios where progress tends to be slow. Sport is the most aggressive where the response from the engine is quite good and the gearbox holds on to the revs longer to give you better performance. Comfort is a mix of both modes and is useful if you need to balance putting in the miles versus keeping fuel economy.
Ride and Handling
This 630i that we have reviewed gets air suspension on both axles and this has given the ride quality a plush feel. It adapts well to changing road conditions and almost rides flat if the road is of a half-decent quality. Most imperfections are gobbled up without much effort and while the ground clearance is acceptable, it's best to be cautious on the bigger unmarked stuff. You do get some road noise even with the high level of NVH insulation and this is mostly down to the massive 19-inch wheel on our concrete roads.
In the sport mode, the ride tends to get firm and the steering becomes heavier which are good if you want to enjoy the car enthusiastically. That being said, it’s a large car and you will encounter some body roll but nothing that reduces confidence in the driving department.
Interior Space and Quality
The selling point of a car like the 6GT is of course what is offered in the second row for the chauffeur-driven buyer, a market that’s grown significantly thanks to the cars like the 6GT as well as the LWB E-Class. Get in and you are greeted by oodles of space all around with more than enough legroom and headroom for someone of my size and this is with the driver’s seat adjusted to my seating position. The tapered roofline that significantly affects rear visibility is no bar in the headroom department as the dip begins only behind the seats. However, this being an RWD car, there’s a large transmission tunnel running between the two rear seats making it more or less strictly a space for two occupants. This reduced space is further compounded by the rear AC vents and their controls which protrude into space for the middle occupant.
In offering a rear seat experience, space is only half the equation. The other half comes from what the rear seat occupants get in terms of features. BMW has got the basic stuff covered like multi-zone climate control, rear armrest with cup holders; rear seatback pockets and four USB type-C charging points. The highlights of the rear seat package are two tablet displays running the iDrive system and can be used to control the media, navigation as well as look at some of the car functions. What’s more, BMW has even fitted a DVD drive as well as an HDMI input to connect media sources and view them on the displays.
Another selling point of the 6GT is of course the massive boot of 610-litres that can be expanded by a significant number when you fold down the rear seats. The loading lip is at an optimal height and you get some nifty practical bits like hooks, parcel tray, under-floor storage (that would have normally been consumed by a space saver) and auto-close and opening function. A nice touch on the boot is a lip spoiler which is courtesy of our car fitted with an M Sport package.
BMWs have always been fun to drive cars and that means a first-row experience befitting that adage. Step into the cabin and you are greeted by a black and caramel coloured space with a light sprinkling of the M Sport kit all around. Everything feels nice to touch and falls easily to the hand thanks to the well-sorted ergonomics. There are swathes of chrome, silver plastic and wood insert to raise premium factor and BMW has managed to blend these in such a way that one element does not overpower the other.
The front seats are surprisingly comfortable with good side bolstering and under-thigh support, though for our climatic conditions having them ventilated would have helped quite a bit. Both seats get electric adjustment allowing you to get into just the right position and what’s more the driver’s seat gets memory function while even the steering gets an electric adjustment.
Features and Safety
BMW’s basic kit list is segmented standard features like four-zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment system Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, leather upholstery, auto-closing for the boot and power seats with memory function for the driver’s side.
The highlight of the dashboard is of course the fully digital instrument cluster as well as the touchscreen infotainment system running BMW’s latest iDrive system. BMW has been running full digital instrument clusters for almost seven years now and has gotten pretty good at the whole thing. The cluster is large, with bright colours and easy to read graphics that allows you to scroll through a variety of information quickly. The cluster changes according to the drive mode and our favourite are the Sport mode where the theme is a spicy red to match this car’s fun performance.
Equally impressive is the 12.3-inch display running the iDrive system. It’s very easy to use with large colourful graphics that can be controlled using a dial in the centre console, via the steering control or via the touchscreen system that BMW has introduced its latest generation of vehicles.
However, while all this is quite impressive for what is in essence a lengthened 5 Series, it does lack some feel-good features. This list comprises seat ventilation, soft closing doors, and request sensor locking mechanism, rear seat massage, rear window sunblind and controls to move the passenger seat from the second row.
In terms of safety, all versions of the 6 Series range get eight airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control, TPMS, stability control and ISOFIX child seat mounting points. Our favourite is of course the auto parking mechanism which parks the car for you in an appropriate space and works by you controlling the accelerator and brake to move the car. This system is quite useful given the car’s size but will struggle if you aren’t parking next to a raised surface with clearly marked lines.
If your heart is set on a 5 Series but you want it to be even longer and practical then the 6GT is your best bet. It’s got everything the 5 Series has but with the added dimensions, decent road manners and comfort levels that rival the likes of many equivalently priced mid-sized crossovers.
The odd-looking design may not be to everyone’s taste but you have to admit it’s a car that does grab your attention when it is in your view. The 2.0-litre petrol engine that our test car has been fitted with is a hoot to drive, something quite evident in the performance figures. Equally impressive is the air suspension which gives a flat ride, something that’s quite useful on our roads. However, it lacks a lot of comfort features especially for the second-row occupants and this becomes evident when you put it up against the competition.
Photography: Kapil Angane