Perfect weather to fly

Perfect weather to fly

Park Lane Group MD Sean Robinson made the most of the sizzling early summer weather to test drive a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.

S8 main2What an excellent way to start the week for a petrol head! Glorious sunshine in Glasgow, then meeting Cameron Wade, a truly nice man from Douglas Park BMW, who actually gives me the key fob to BMW’s newest model (so new in fact it’s not officially launched until the following week).

He’s never met me before, yet he let’s me disappear from the showroom with the sparkling new motor and head out on the open road. What followed was a perfect good-to-be-alive drive.

Heading north out of Glasgow, the A808 on that wonderfully winding scenic road towards Loch Lomond, through Drymen, Aberfoyle, across country towards Dunblane, a pit stop at the delightful Blairmains Farm shop and restaurant near Bridge Of Allan for a light lunch, then back down the motorway to a still-sunny Glasgow, all without a drop of rain!

I was driving the new BMW 640d Gran Coupe which is their version of the ‘big saloon’ Coupes that have come on to the market in the last few years. The 6 Series Gran Coupe is effectively the 6 coupe stretched out to a shade over 5 metres, with the addition of two extra doors, the result being what is in my opinion one of the most elegant, stylish and streamlined of todays ‘big’ four door Coupes.

It’s as good to look at as Aston’s Rapide and is clearly aimed at the Merc CLS and Porsche Panamera market. On style and design alone it’ll give the competition a real run for their money especially with the BMW sporting and quality pedigree.

The car I was driving, the 640d, had BMW’s M Sport specification and is powered by the brand’s new twin turbo 3 litre diesel unit which produces an impressive 309bhp and 465lb ft of torque. The combination gives an astonishing mix of power across the range and takes you to 60mph in a very impressive 5.6 seconds.

BMW really has mastered the art of the diesel engine in terms of maximising performance, while it is so quiet that you wouldn’t know it was a diesel. In fact, I really can’t understand why anybody would buy the petrol model. I have no doubt they are good but this car has sports car performance and even on 100-mile journey, most of it on rural roads, it returned over 36mpg.

In terms of comfort, the Gran Coupe will seat four in style and absolute comfort with the rear only getting a little tight if there are two six footers front and back. It’s just nice to get in the car with the four pillar-less sculpted doors looking more like works of art than car doors.

Inside the car adopts the most modern of BMW design, including a sweeping dash and centre console swathed in leather that seems to wrap round the driver offering all the controls at your finger tips. BMW’s latest i-drive controller is light years ahead of where it was in my old 6 series.

It’s really easy and instinctive to use with all information being clearly displayed on the big centre screen. The seats themselves, aptly called comfort seats, offer adjustment in every way you could think of - and one more as I discovered just as I was reluctantly handing the car back.

This big 6 Gran Coupe has the driving feel and handling of a sports grand tourer car but with much more to offer. It has loads of power on tap through the 8-speed electronic automatic gearbox and if you really want to go looking for a few points on your licence just press the little button next to the space-age gear stick and select ‘Sport’ …and it really goes whilst making a real grunt as you change gear using the F1 style flappy paddles mounted on the thick set leather M Sport steering wheel.

There’s even a sport plus mode but I didn’t have the heart to try it on what was a three-hour old car. Comfort mode selected, and you could just drive this car all day long, preferably on an Autobahn. There’s also a comfort plus setting if you’re taking your Gran for a Sunday drive in the Gran Coupe, and an eco-drive function for absolute efficient performance.

It’s hard to criticise this car, which is essentially a fantastic four-door, four-seat luxury Coupe that is more practical than its two-door sibling, has outstanding performance yet can still return over 40mpg.

It also has a good size boot, offers driver enjoyment without costing passenger comfort, and not least is just lovely to look at with those long sleek BMW shark-like lines. Now it’s not cheap, but this car does sit at the top of the BMW model line up.

The 6 Series Gran Coupe range starts at £61,380 and up to £68,560 for the tested model. You can then start adding some extras. The test car had a full spec and the one thing I would recommend is the big glass roof which just gave the cabin that extra airiness and light.

Needless to say, this is another great car from BMW. I believe they’re forecasting sales of 700 next year in the UK, they may have to revise that up to 701 at least!

Sean Robinson is joint managing director of Park Lane Group, one of Glasgow’s leading independent property development companies, based in Cowcaddens.

BMW 640d M Sport Gran Coupe, OTR Price £77,130. Car supplied by Douglas Park Glasgow BMW/MINI, 3-33 Kyle St, Glasgow G4 OHP 0141 333 0088, 0141 333 8245 www.douglasparkglasgowbmw.co.uk