Well, having just spent ten days in Automobile Magazine's Four Seasons Audi A7, I can tell you that the BMW 640i Gran Coupe is undeniably a sportier machine, but it's not a more desirable one. What we have here is an amalgam of 5-series, 6-series, and 7-series chassis and powertrain componentry. It's all top-drawer stuff, especially the turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine and the eight-speed automatic, which eagerly doles out the engine's 315 hp in smooth and satisfying increments. From behind the driver's seat, this Gran Coupe is a grand thing indeed. To my eyes, the Gran Coupe is nowhere near as attractive as the A7, although Mike and Tim, the guys who run an organic farm where I have a share this summer, didn't agree with me. When I pulled in to pick up my basket of fresh vegetables and greens the other day, they dropped their garden hoses, stood back, and gazed appreciatively. "That car is really a beauty!" said Tim. Mike, whose regular gig is working at one of Ann Arbor's better independent automotive repair shops, Orion Automotive Services, noted the twenty-inch wheels and wondered what they would cost to replace.
The deal breaker for me in the Gran Coupe vs. A7 debate is the fact that the A7 has a commodious hatchback trunk, whereas the Gran Coupe has a conventional trunk that offers far less cargo capacity and doesn't even have a power-closing device. That said, the Gran Coupe takes BMW interiors to a new level, especially this example, which was decked out in optional stitched Nappa leather.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
This is a super-nice car with lots of impressive attributes. However, I think it fails at its mission of competing with the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Audi A7; in my opinion (which I clearly share with Joe DeMatio), this BMW's exterior doesn't look nearly as distinctive as either of those competitors', particularly from the side profile -- which, after all, really defines them. In fact, I suspect that many onlookers wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a 5-series unless the two cars were parked side-by-side. Granted the front and rear ends do have their own look, but overall the car isn't as striking to look at as the other premium four-door "coupes."
Inside the Gran Coupe, it's standard BMW, but some touches make it stand out even more. The metal Bang & Olufsen speakers are absolutely gorgeous, and I also love the white stitching that emphasizes the sweep of leather that swings around the right side of the iDrive controller and up onto the dashboard. The 640i Gran Coupe drives quite well, too, but it's nothing special as BMWs go, and like its newest stablemates, it feels a bit too insulated for an Ultimate Driving Machine.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The other night, I had dinner with a friend of mine who majored in transportation and industrial design, and he spent a good half-hour in the parking lot, ogling and running his hands over the Gran Coupe's exterior. "I'd really hate to be a 3-D sculptor at BMW," he said -- and I can see why. The Gran Coupe's crisp lines show in the artwork you see here, but the three-dimensional crests, falls, waves, and shoulders they form aren't as evident until you walk around the car, occasionally pausing to crouch and take a closer look.
The interior is equally dramatic. The bold, sweeping edge that arcs from the top of the dashboard down to the center console is unlike most anything I've seen in a BMW before, and certainly a far cry from the 5-series clean-but-cold instrument panel layout. Tick the box (that is, pony up another $3000) for a leather-wrapped dash, and the panel is trimmed in supple hide, and accented with contrasting stitching that runs the length of that aforementioned arch. Entrancing.
You can spend a whole lot of time pondering why someone would spend a whole lot of money on a vehicle that essentially does what a 535i does but at nearly twice the price. It's not a matter of rationality, but a matter of style. Are you willing to pay more for that lower roofline, the frameless windows, the wide track enveloped with swollen fenders, and so on? As one who prefers basic, functional menswear to haute-couture suits from Gucci, Zegna, or Cannali, I can't say I am - but I can hardly fault anyone who does.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor