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RE: Driven: BMW 640d Coupe

Monday 10th October 2011

Driven: BMW 640d Coupe

New diesel Grand Tourer takes you further, faster and in style



Why is the BMW 6 Series diesel still without rival? The original 635d was launched in 2007 and in its first full year, it accounted for 63 percent of 6 Series sales. In the second, this leapt to 83 percent. Last year, 92 percent of all 6 Series sold in the UK sported a 3.0-litre diesel engine. You'd think that sort of sales domination would send a clear message to the competition, yet the 'diesel GT' remains a segment in which rivals fear to tread.


If anyone else does want to dip a toe in now, the task has become a damn sight more onerous with the arrival of a second-generation BMW 6 Series diesel. The goalposts have been moved again by a new BMW that will remain the choice of over 9 in 10 UK 6 Series buyers: the 640d, yours from ?62,080.

Just to rub salt into the wounds, BMW is also now offering it as an 'M Sport', the big-wheeled, M GmbH-bodykitted trim so loved by UK buyers that comes to the 6 for the first time (for ?4,665 more than base SE). So yes, it now even looks the part, and no - although the ride is more pattery as a result, it does not descend into resolute harshness.

Let's amuse ourselves by comparing 635d with 640d. Power of the new 3.0-litre straight-six? 313hp versus 286hp, a genteel 27hp boost. Not bad: torque is also up 37lb ft to a healthy 464lb ft, spread in the modern diesel way across a 1000rpm band starting from just 1500rpm. That's TwinPower Turbo tech at work: two different-sized turbos operating at different points to boost response and effectiveness throughout the rev range.


A sublime eight-speed gearbox is a further aid, ensuring less chance of being caught napping in the wrong gear. It is this, more than any power boost, that's responsible for chipping 0.8 seconds off the 0-62mph time. Yup, this takes just 5.5 seconds. The alternative 640i (at ?59,565, it's around ?2500 cheaper than the 640d) is only 0.1 second quicker. Mind you, it's also only 7hp up on the diesel, and a full 132lb ft down on torque. Even BMW's own petrol engines can't compete with the might of the 640d.

Economy is the clincher. The old one could do 40.9mpg: this one averages 51.4mpg. That's 10.5mpg more, despite all the extra pace and shove. It's barely comprehensible: nor is a CO2 drop of 39g/km, to just 144g/km.

Grand Tourer? You bet: with a 70-litre tank, this has a 790-mile range, 225 miles more than the 640i and 361 miles more than a Mercedes SL 500.


It doesn't even grumble like a diesel. OK, there's a bit of metallicism at start-up, and combustion clatter is also present during the first few revs of acceleration. Some resonance can be felt at tickover through the seat too (but this is stemmed whenever possible by standard engine stop/start).

Once in its stride though, it's not only more serene but staggeringly smooth and remarkably free-revving with it. The aural backdrop is, intriguingly, not dissimilar to the distant yet cammy growl of a water-cooled 911. There's more to appeal at 4500rpm than you'd ever expect.

And boy, is it a powerhouse. The torque-laden surge on tap apparently at all revs provides an amusing old-school muscle car feel. Even with DSC+ on, you can feel the strain on the rear wheels, made all the more convincing by the fact you don't have to wait for it to be generated. Turbo lag is virtually never an issue: power delivery is near-instantaneous especially when aided by a 'Sport' mode which means you're pretty much always in the right gear.


Selecting Sport is well advised anyhow, particularly on cars with the optional Adaptive Drive variable damper/active anti-roll bar suspension: It firms up the steering, sharpens the throttle and, crucially, tightens the suspension settings to cut roll and increase response. It should be default because in 'Comfort', there's too much softness and roll that makes cornering almost quirky. M Sport brings 19-inch wheels which further accentuate the big 6's inherent and surprising turn-in sharpness, so it's 'mechanically' turning in before the body's caught up, creating an odd two-stage sensation if the Sport settings aren't employed.

Otherwise, all that's missing is a bit more insight from the otherwise accurate and firmly weighted electric power steering. It's as clean and crisp as most other new BMWs, but you don't get a huge amount of detail. And what's with the over-large, over-thick, over-spongy steering wheel?

It's a fleeting chink for the competition, but relatively inconsequential. Where BMW has not faltered is over the fundamentals. Fast, effortless and satisfying, the 640d hits the spot like no modern 6 Series before it. A force-filled grand tourer that packs in the attributes of a diesel with few of the downsides, and possibly one of the most well-rounded BMWs on sale.

Words: Richard Aucock





 
Author
Discussion

Maldini35

Original Poster:

1,440 posts

111 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Not a fan of the current BMW styling but this is BMW's prettiest car by a long way.

kambites

52,527 posts

144 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Makes a lot of sense, really.

petrolveins

1,780 posts

96 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Stunning car, pretty sure I'd take the diesel every time too.

Also I think I spot a certain drift record holder doing what he does best in those photos. hehe

thewheelman

2,194 posts

96 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
The styling looks very Korean to my eye, from the front & rear view. Bring back Bangle......all is forgiven!

As for such a large coupe, if it was my money, it'd have to be a petrol engine. The sound of a diesel engine is the sound of disappointment.

OdramaSwimLaden

1,971 posts

92 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
I wafted down to the south of France last September in a 635d, and it was a great machine for the job.

This one has c.15% more power and looks fabulous....I like.
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PIGINAWIG

1,854 posts

88 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Used to have the 635d a few years back - this looks lovely.

forzaminardi

1,821 posts

110 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Can't really argue with those figures, can you? If you want a swift, comfy and pretty economical GT, you need look no further. It even manages, uniquely for a current BMW, to look OK - although white doesn't suit it. One design note jars with the 6 series - what is the point of the little rear lights set into the bumper underneath the main lights? Looks like an afterthought to me.

Tyson1980

712 posts

79 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Very very nice looking car!

y2blade

56,027 posts

138 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all

I like that cloud9

Major Fallout

5,186 posts

154 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Its not as if you can hear the V8 sound in mine, so it might as well be a diesel.

British Beef

1,027 posts

88 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
One thing missing with most (petrol) GTs is range, this thing certainly has that base covered.

It is becoming too large and cumbersome for my liking.

bakerstreet

3,326 posts

88 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Wasn't a fan of the previous 6 series, but I like the new new one.

With a bit of tweaking, you could have 350bhp with the same economy!

I'm looking forward to the rumoured triple turbo 550D and hopefully there will be a 340D smile

thewheelman

2,194 posts

96 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
The front looks very generic Korean styling, & the rear reminds me of a Skyline 350gt.



I guess if you like bland styling it's fine. But i liked it when BMWs set trends, & not follow them.

Beefmeister

14,058 posts

153 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
That looks fecking fantastic. Surely must be the best GT car available?

I can't think of a better car for a European jaunt - 50+mpg (real world achievable, too), plenty of shove, great looks, what's not to like? 790 mile range? That's properly impressive.

I'd be surprised if one single 640i is sold in the UK, you'd have to be utterly mental.

Fire99

9,148 posts

152 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Looks 'uge!

I'd like to see the 50+mpg in the real world.

dave_s13

11,411 posts

192 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
PH said:
Grand Tourer? You bet: with a 70-litre tank, this has a 790-mile range, 225 miles more than the 640i and 361 miles more than a Mercedes SL 500
Hang on...

790-225 = 565

You telling me a 640i will do 565 miles on a tank??

Surely not?

Kong

1,503 posts

94 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
Looks great, fantastic interior and probably best in class to drive.

To the people moaning about the diesel engine, you can still buy a petrol if you want!

Personally i think this engine suits the GT very well. It gives the car a huge range which is what you want when driving cross-continent. The lack of a soundtrack isn't a huge problem for me either, this car is designed to be quiet and comfortable - the V8s and V12s of old were always fairly muted anyway.

E38Ross

19,453 posts

135 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
dave_s13 said:
Hang on...

790-225 = 565

You telling me a 640i will do 565 miles on a tank??

Surely not?
Yes, remembering that the 740i is a 3.0 straight 6

jsr

1,155 posts

173 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
bakerstreet said:
Wasn't a fan of the previous 6 series, but I like the new new one.

With a bit of tweaking, you could have 350bhp with the same economy!

I'm looking forward to the rumoured triple turbo 550D and hopefully there will be a 340D smile
Totally agree. Really like the look of this car - the back end of the previous 6 seemed inconsistent with the design of the rest of the car. I'm amazed at the mpg gain of this engine.

HellDiver

5,708 posts

105 months

Monday 10th October 2011
quotequote all
640d (mapped)?

eek