2012 BMW 640d coupe review, test drive
23rd Feb 2012 6:24 pm
Think diesels are just for people who are looking for mileage?
It takes but a few seconds in max attack to realise that the diesel-engined 640d is as much a brute as its petrol-swigging 650i sibling. You’ll see the traction control light on the instrument cluster flash frantically as the electronics work overtime to rein in the monstrous 64kgm of torque and, of course, prevent the rear tyres from smoking themselves slick. A diesel it may be, but the 640d has the muscle to quieten the most ardent petrolheads, us included.
The 640d is powered by a 2993cc variable-geometry-turbo diesel engine, similar to the one in the 730Ld. However, where the Seven has a single turbo, the 640d motor uses two, helping it produce an impressive 313bhp. That translates to a 5.69sec 0-100kph time, placing this diesel-hearted Six bang in sports car territory. Now that you’re convinced you won’t be left wanting more performance, there’s more good news. Being a diesel, it is quite easy to exploit all the power on offer.
Peak torque is available between 1500-2500rpm, so you are always only a slight tap of your throttle foot away from some grin-inducing pace. You don’t need to wring the engine to the top of the rev band to get the most out of it as with the 650i. Power is fantastically linear, with a relentless build-up right up to the 5400rpm redline. And, before you ask, the 640d’s in-line six-cylinder motor has a deep (if not very loud) growl for a soundtrack, so you won’t really need the optional Bang & Olufsen music system.
Enhancing the driving experience is the fantastic eight-speed gearbox that is almost telepathic in the way it shifts ratios. Gearchanges are smooth and perfectly synced with your driving style, be it cruising down a highway or hot-footing it up your favourite ghat. The standard-fit Dynamic Driving Control allows you to further fine-tune throttle and transmission responses and level of electronic intervention, so tail-out action requires just a press of a button and some bravery. There is also an Eco Pro mode here that tailors the transmission and air-con system to deliver the best efficiency, though we expect most users to shuffle only between Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings.
Our test car came with the optional Dynamic Damper Control which additionally alters suspension settings for each driving mode. Ambling about town, we found the softest Comfort+ setting to offer pliant enough ride quality, though the wafer-thin 35-profile run-flat tyres mean the smallest of surface imperfections filter through to the cabin. There is more of the same in Comfort mode too, so the low-speed ride never feels as comfy or settled as the electronics would have you believe. Also, the Six sits on short springs which max out their travel quite quickly. The good news is that the ride smoothens out the faster you go, so the big Bimmer does make for an able mile-muncher.
It’s also on smooth, empty roads that you’ll be tempted to try out the Sport and Sport+ modes, which stiffen the dampers and quicken the steering. Suddenly the large 640d becomes a whole lot more engaging to drive. A single lock of the steering is all you need to snake through all but the tightest of hairpins. That said, all the gadgetry can’t mask the fact that, at 1790kg, this is a heavy car. As a result, the car feels heavy on a twisty road, especially when transitioning from one turn to the next, and is not as agile as you’d expect. But then again, this is a GT built to transport occupants in great style and as effortlessly as possible.
And this is where the 640d scores big. The interiors ooze luxury. Quality of materials is hard to fault and the attention to detail is brilliant. Take for instance, the stitching on the leather seats and dashboard or even the rubberised backs of the paddle-shifters. If anything, it’s the dashboard itself that subscribes too closely to the BMW template for its own good, so the cabin somewhat lacks that sense of occasion you’d expect in a car at this price point. What’s good is that the iDrive system is fairly simple to use now and syncing your mobile to the car is also straightforward thanks to BMW’s ConnectedDrive system. Front-seat comfort is great and the rear seats are not all that bad either. Yes, space is tight, but short trips are quite doable. There is also a sizeable 460-litre boot under that elegant tail, so weekend trips out of town are not unimaginable either. And while we couldn’t do a complete fuel efficiency run, fairly brisk driving had the onboard computer read 10kpl, which is fantastic anyway you look at it.
The best bit is the way the 6-series looks. It is low, wide, imposing and in this newly launched coupé avatar, has the proportions spot on. There is an air of restrained aggression that makes the Six such a distinct member of the roadscape. But should you buy one? If you can afford the Rs 75-lakh asking price, you most certainly should. The 640d marries style, luxury and genuinely accessible performance in a way few cars can.