• 6GT is much better turned-out than its predecessor but st...
    6GT is much better turned-out than its predecessor but still has its bulky angles.
  • The driving environment is very similar to what you’d get...
    The driving environment is very similar to what you’d get in a 5-series, but you do sit higher up in here.
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Rating 8 8

2018 BMW 6-series GT review, road test

16th May 2018 8:00 am

Love the BMW 5-series but find the long-wheelbase new Merc E-class’ space hard to look beyond? BMW might have just the car for you in its new 6GT.

  • Make : BMW
  • Model : 6-series GT
We Like
Roomy cabin
Excellent ride quality
Strong petrol engine
We Don't Like
Shape not to all tastes
No diesel engine as yet
Odd spare tyre position

Remember the last-gen BMW 5-series Gran Turismo? If you don’t, you aren’t alone. Developed to complement the standard 5-series sedan, the 5GT promised to offer all that the 5 was renowned for in a more luxurious and spacious package. Trouble was BMW found few takers for the 5GT’s oddball design, and even in India, sales were limited at best. That car’s replacement is the focus of this road test. It’s been branded the 6GT to help define its position in the BMW range, and in India it’s a model that will help its maker take the fight to Mercedes-Benz and the hugely popular long-wheelbase E-class. Yes, BMW already had the 5-series for the job, but with the 6GT, it now has two distinct offerings within the same price band, effectively sandwiching the Merc. BMW is confident its strategy will pay off and has even commenced local assembly for the 6GT to keep prices competitive; competitive being the operative word. Because at Rs 60.8 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the sole version of the 6GT is pricier than the four-cylinder versions of the 5 and the E by upwards of Rs 4 lakh.

Is the 6GT worth the stretch in terms of size and price is what we want to find out. 

The 6GT sits between the 5-series sedan and 7-series limousine in BMW’s model hierarchy, and its size reflects as much too. It’s over 150mm longer than the 5 sedan, and the 3,070mm wheelbase is also 95mm longer than the sedan’s, if still 9mm shorter than that of the long-wheelbase Merc E-class. The 6GT is also taller and wider than the 5-series, and the net effect is that it looks more substantial than the sedan in the metal.

Also important to bring in right at the start is that the 6GT’s design is not as much of an acquired taste as the old 5GT’s. Sure, traditionalists may still not take to the liftback (Gran Turismo in BMW speak) shape, and individualists who want their cars to stand out have the sexier Audi sportbacks to choose from, but the latest BMW does balance form and function far more successfully than its predecessor. The 6GT has a smoother silhouette, and BMW designers are particularly proud of how the 64mm lower rear deck has allowed the roof to flow down coupé-style into the back. Still, there are angles from which the 6GT appears bulky, especially on the standard 18-inch wheels that look small amid the vast body.

Play spot the differences with pictures of the 5 sedan and 6GT’s front ends and you’ll note the latter’s headlights are raised and the bumper is unique in its detailing too. The overall styling treatment, however, is modern BMW. The headlights fuse with the kidney grille, and at the sides there’s a prominent shoulder line too; the traditional Hofmeister kink at the C-pillars, however, is all but absent. A nice touch is the sculpted effect to the full-LED tail-lights and there’s a hidden spoiler atop the rear deck that automatically rises when above 120kph, and can also be extended/retracted at the touch of a button. The 6GT also gets other clever aero-aiding touches like inlets in the front bumpers and outlets just aft the front wheel arches to reduce turbulence around the wheel arches. Also hidden behind the kidney grille are mechanical louvres that shut when the engine doesn’t need cooling, thereby reducing drag and improving airflow over the car.    

Like the 5-series, the 6GT is built on BMW’s new CLAR (Cluster Architecture) platform, with the body structure using a substantial proportion of aluminium and high-strength steel. BMW claims the 6GT is as much as 150kg lighter than the 5GT it replaces. For now, the 6GT is only available in India in 630i petrol form, though a diesel is expected soon. Power from the engine goes to the rear wheels via ZF’s ubiquitous eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. The suspension comprises double wishbones up front and a multi-link setup at the rear; commendably, air springs and dynamic dampers are standard fit. 

Given that the 6GT shares its dashboard layout with the 5-series, we’ll come back to the front section of the cabin in a bit. For now, let’s focus on the prime reason one would pick the 6GT over the 5 sedan – the rear seat. Open the rear doors and once you are done marvelling at the frameless windows, what becomes instantly evident is that the 6GT is far roomier than its sedan sibling. Pardon the cliché, but there’s acres of space in the back, with the large windows and huge panoramic sunroof making the cabin feel airier still. Even sitting behind a six-footer is not an issue with still enough legroom to stretch out. And for a car that boasts a coupé-like roofline, headroom is good too. However, BMW should have gone one step further with the option to slide the front passenger seat forward from the rear to give chauffeur-driven owners that ultimate feeling of space. The fact that you get this feature on the comparable Merc E 200 is something that won’t escape a buyer’s attention.

The 6GT’s rear seats themselves are well cushioned and supportive, but they don’t feel quite as sumptuous as the ones on the E-class. Have no doubts though, because you are still very comfortably sat in the back of a 6GT. The pillows on the headrests whisper luxury and there’s also the option to electrically recline the backrest angle to your liking. Electrically retractable sun shades for the side windows enhance the comfort factor, and BMW has done well to equip the 6GT with a rear-seat entertainment system and four-zone climate control as standard.

Up front, the feeling is of sitting in a slightly raised 5-series. The dashboard looks like a direct carry-over from the sedan, which is not a bad thing in the least. The combination of the digital instruments (they change theme with mode), the centre infotainment display and even the colour screen for the climate control system work beautifully to give the cabin a very modern look. The cabin is also a fairly sporty environment to be in what with the chunky steering and BMW’s joystick-like gear lever. Quality is excellent just about everywhere, but some bits like the power window switches don’t feel particularly special for a car of this price. We also found the drive mode selector switches besides the gear lever a bit fiddly to operate on the move.

6GT drivers will like their seats for comfort and the view afforded out the front. At the same time, the absence of seat lumbar adjust and the limited rear visibility are quirks those behind the wheel will just have to live with. No complaints for in-cabin storage (okay, the glovebox is a bit small), but what is disappointing is storage for luggage. And it’s all to do with the position of the standard-fit space-saver spare on the boot floor rather than under it. As a result, the 6GT’s cavernous 610-litre loading bay can’t be put to full use. For what it’s worth, the rear seat’s 40:20:40 split backrests fold flat to offer a staggering 1,800 litres of boot space, with the spare tyre removed.

Lest the model nomenclature leads you to believe the 6GT gets a lusty 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine, know that ‘630i’ today implies a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, twin-scroll, single turbo, petrol engine under the hood. It’s the same unit that powers the 330i and 530i, but, interestingly, the engine makes slightly more power and significantly more torque in this application. The 630i’s power figure reads 258hp (vs the 330i and 530i’s 252hp), while torque is up to 400Nm (vs 350Nm) here. The 630i’s power and torque numbers look particularly shining when seen in light of the comparable petrol E-class; the E 200’s 2.0-litre turbo-petrol makes 184hp and 300Nm. And the difference in performance is rather telling too. We managed a launch control-assisted 0-100kph time of 6.94sec for the 630i. That’s a full 1.7sec less than what the E 200 takes; even in kickdown acceleration, it’s the Bimmer that has the big lead.

Of course, you get the best out of the engine and gearbox with the drive mode set to Sport. Press down hard on the throttle pedal and what you’ll get is a sustained pull right until the top end, following which the slick eight-speed auto will snap in with an upshift (you can shift manually too) and get the engine right into the heart of the powerband, ready for another long lunge to the limiter. There are no flat spots and the feeling is of power being evenly distributed across the rev range. Accompanying the strong performance is a satisfying snarl from the engine that just adds to the experience. How many owners will experience this exciting side of their 630i though remains to be seen.

Comfort mode dials things down a bit but still never leaves you wanting in terms of performance. There’s a steady stream of power when you need it, so Comfort works just fine as a default setting. Eco Pro mode dulls responses in the quest for best efficiency but the good bit is it’s not entirely unusable. Sure, responses are borderline lazy, but in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it’s really not an issue. A happy consequence of Eco Pro shifting to the highest possible gear is that the 630i runs at its quietest in this mode which is something owners might appreciate. Our sound tests reveal the 630i is quieter than the E 200 at idle and at max revs, but trails the Merc on noise levels at 50kph and 80kph. The BMW’s engine runs vibe-free and refinement levels, in general, are of a high order. 

With its air springs, tall sidewall tyres and adjustable ride height (it can be raised by 20mm), the 6GT has the right ingredients to tackle India’s roads. And the fact is that the 6GT really does do a good job of things. Keep the car in Comfort and you’ll love how pliant it feels over the bumps. It just glides over surface imperfections, and the minimal road and suspension noise just enhance that experience. The suspension is very absorbent and you also don’t get that residual side-to-side movement you’d typically experience in a car with such a long wheelbase. In general, the 6GT still feels much tidier and better controlled than the air suspension-equipped Merc E 350d that tends to float, bob and pitch with an increase in speed. Of the other modes, Comfort Plus mode adds in another layer of softness but is best suited to low-speed environments, while Sport makes the 6GT feel the most tied down at high speeds, if also a bit stiff-kneed in town. The good news is that you don’t have to constantly shuffle through the modes to suit the driving scenario. Leave the 6GT in Adaptive and it will automatically select the appropriate mode for you. Impressively, this mode reads conditions well. Also commendable is that the 6GT didn’t require us to raise its suspension to tackle bad bumps or big speed breakers in its time with us. The option to do so is handy, nonetheless.

From behind the wheel, you are always aware of the 6GT’s size but in Eco Pro and Comfort mode, the steering is light enough to make the car feel manageable. There’s more weight to the steering in Sport mode and you do get a greater sense of connect with the car, especially when it’s loaded up in a corner. However stable and planted the 6GT might feel in the bends, it’s never as agile or tight as a 5-series sedan. Purists in search for sheer driving pleasure have better options in the BMW line-up. 

Like all other turbo-petrols, the 630i’s fuel economy figure is a function of driving style. Drive hard and you’ll see economy nosedive. Drive easy and you can manage some reasonable numbers. In Eco Pro, the 630i delivered 7.2kpl in our city test loop and 11kpl out on the highway. The figures are fair for a petrol car of this size and weight. Factor in the 68-litre fuel tank and you can cover large enough distances without the need for a refill. 

The 6GT gets BMW’s latest-gen infotainment system and there are multiple ways to operate its neatly laid-out interface. The traditional iDrive rotary controller works well as ever (and even gets a touchpad to feed in numbers or names of people and places), the touchscreen is slick and even the voice commands work with accuracy for making calls or setting radio frequency. Gesture controls are part of the package too but they operate limited functions and feel a bit gimmicky at this stage of their evolution. Navigation with 3D maps is standard as is wireless Apple CarPlay. Android Auto, however, has been left out. Sound quality is good but not the best for this price.

For the moment, the 6GT is available only with a single engine option and in a single Sport Line trim. Do note, while Sport Line is the entry-spec when talking of the 5-series sedan, it comes bundled with a whole lot more kit on the 6GT.

Among the list of standard features are the excellent adaptive LED headlights that swivel the beams with steering input, and also adjusts high beam to avoid glaring oncoming traffic. Also standard is air suspension, paddleshifters, driving modes, launch control, a touchscreen infotainment system with gesture control, reversing camera, adjustable ambient lighting, four-zone climate control, powered steering adjust, and powered front seats (memory function only for driver). A panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable rear seat backrests and a rear-seat entertainment package with dual 10.2-inch screens are also included. The rear screens, however, are not touch units like the one up front, but are operated by a remote control.

BMW’s cool touchscreen display key is also part of the equipment and it shows info such as car status, range and the like, but its functionality is limited as the 6GT doesn’t get remote control parking. That a 360-degree camera and parking assistant have also been given a miss is perhaps a gentle reminder that the rightful place for owners is in the back; chauffeurs can worry about the business of actually parking. Oh, and also unlocking the car. The 6GT curiously does without keyless entry. 

Since its launch, the new long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz E-class has been the default choice of anyone buying a luxury sedan solely for the rear-seat experience. The consideration set should widen with the arrival of the new 6GT. It runs the Merc real close on space and comfort, and actually offers more by way of features, give and take some missing equipment. It’s not necessarily the overall better car, but the Bimmer has the advantage of being more involving to drive, with its significantly stronger petrol engine and good dynamics.

Compared to a standard 5-series, the 6GT offers more of what typical buyers want, especially in terms of cabin room. Yes, it is pricier, but you do get significantly more car for the extra outlay. The 6GT does lack the charisma of the 5 and its shape might not be to all tastes either, but there’s no denying it is the more versatile package. The 6GT strikes a fine balance as a luxury car that’s great to drive and be chauffeured around in. 

Also see:

2018 BMW 6-series GT India image gallery

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 60.8 lakh (ex-showroom, India)
Warranty 2 years/unlimited km
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Fuel Type / Propulsion Petrol
Engine Installation Front, longitudinal
Type 4 cyls, turbo-petrol
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1998cc
Bore/Stroke (mm) 94.6/82mm
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Valve Train 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 258hp at 5000-6500rpm
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 400Nm at 1550-4400rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 150hp per tonne
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 232.55Nm per tonne
Specific Output (hp/litre) 129.12hp per litre
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Drive Layout Rear-wheel drive
Gearbox Type Automatic
No of Gears 8
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 5.000/8.361
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 3.200/13.06
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 2.143/19.50
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.720/24.30
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.314/31.81
6th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.000/41.80
7th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.822/50.86
8th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.6400/65.32
Final Drive Ratio 3.077:1
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 22.57m/2.20sec
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
City (kpl) 7.18kpl
Highway (kpl) 11.05kpl
Tank size (lts) 68 litres
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.45s
0 - 20 kph (sec) 0.98s
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.52s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.04s
0 - 50 kph (sec) 2.66s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 3.21s
0 - 70 kph (sec) 4.02s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 4.91s
0 - 90 kph (sec) 5.77s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 6.95s
0 - 110 kph (sec) 8.19s
0 - 120 kph (sec) 9.53s
0 - 130 kph (sec) 11.06s
0 - 140 kph (sec) 12.73s
1/4 mile (sec) 14.77s
20-80kph (in third gear) (sec) 3.94s (in kickdown)
40-100kph (in fourth gear) (sec) 4.86s (in kickdown)
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
1st (kph @rpm) 57kph at 6800rpm
2nd (kph @rpm) 89kph at 6800rpm
3rd (kph @rpm) 132kph at 6800rpm
4th (kph @rpm) 165kph at 6800rpm
5th (kph @rpm) 215kph at 6800rpm
6th (kph @rpm) 219kph at 5200rpm*
7th (kph @rpm) 220kph at 4300rpm*
8th (kph @rpm) 217kph at 3300rpm*
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Idle (dB) 37.3dB
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 53.1dB
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 65.2dB
50 kph in 4th gear AC off (dB) 63.7dB
80 kph in top gear AC off (dB) 64.3dB
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Construction Four door, monocoque, liftback
Weight (kg) 1720kg
Front Tyre 245/50 R18
Rear Tyre 245/50 R18
Spare Tyre Space saver
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Independent, double wishbone, air springs
Rear Independent, multi-link, air springs
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 12.3m
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Discs
Rear Discs
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Length 5091mm
Width (mm) 1902mm
Height 1538mm
Wheel base 3070mm
Front Track (mm) 1615mm
Rear Track (mm) 1649mm
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1410mm
Ground Clerance (mm) 138mm
Boot Capacity (Lts) 610-1800 litres
2018 BMW 6-series GT review, road test
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