BMW 6 Series GT First Drive Review
Close on the heels of the updated Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes the facelift to the BMW 6 Series GT
A month ago the wraps came off the facelifted Mercedes-Benz E-Class and now comes the update to its closest rivals, the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo. This is the long wheelbase version of the BMW 5 Series, to take on the E-Class which is now only available in the long wheel base version in India. But what’s significant is the fact that this facelift, which globally debuted in May last year, is first being applied to the 6GT — it’s a clear sign of BMW doubling down on their long wheelbase strategy for India. Of course the BMW 5 Series will also get the facelift very soon but for now the focus is on the 6 Series GT which, for the first time, will also be offered in the M Sport variant.
Three powertrains will be offered on the BMW 6 Series GT — the 620d which is only offered with the Luxury Line trim, the 630i that we are testing here which only gets the M Sport trim and the range-topping 630d which also get the M Sport body kit.
Styling of the 6 Series Gran Turismo
The most noticeable and visually distinct angle of the BMW 6GT continues to be the rear three-quarters. It’s not exactly an estate, neither is it a 4-door coupe and that does result in mixed reactions. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no doubting that the notchback tailgate does give the 6GT a distinct presence which sets it apart from the traditional sedan form of the 5 Series. This also makes for a two-pronged attack on the E-Class with the regular wheelbase 5 Series at one end and the long wheelbase 6 Series GT at the other.
New for 2021 on the 6GT are the lighting elements, bumpers and applications of chrome. On the 630i M Sport and 630d M Sport the headlights are now laser lights, both for the main and low beam, together with non-dazzling technology on the high beam that dynamically dips just the part that is right in the eyes of drivers of oncoming cars so they aren’t blinded. The 620d gets LED headlights with a similar non-dazzling matrix technology, and both the laser and LED lights are adaptive with cornering function as well.
The housing of the headlamps remain unchanged but the LED DRLs are now a smarter L-shape with blue accenting for the laser lights — which is the most noticeable styling difference over the previous 6GT, along with the bolder, in-your-face kidney grille. The latter hasn’t been extended all the way to the floor, but the thicker chrome surrounds now stretches it out horizontally bringing to mind the lovely 8 Series. The chromed slats also give it further visual accentuation. And bling!
The bumpers, especially these M Sport units, are more chiseled and sporty, with prominent intakes for the air curtains on the edges that aid in aerodynamics by cutting the turbulence around the front tyres. The kidney grilles also get active slats that improve aerodynamics. Over at the rear you get new graphics for the tail lamps, the boot spoiler that deploys above 80kmph, and a sportier bumper with twin exhausts.
You also get a smattering of M badges and massive 19-inch rims (the 620d gets 18s) shod with Pirelli PZero run-flats, 275/40 at the rear and 245/45 at the front. The tyres are so massive, and so grippy, that you can say goodbye to any hopes of getting the 630i to drift.
Interiors and cabin space of BMW 630i
The updates to the interior are relatively minor and keep the BMW 6GT in step with the rest of the lineup. First things first, you get BMW’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster along with a truly massive 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that uses BMW’s 7th generation operating system. And unlike its rivals BMW does a fantastic integration of Apple CarPlay which makes use of the entire width of the screen making everything look properly massive and gorgeous. BMW is also the only manufacturer in the luxury space to offer wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a new design for the M Sport steering wheel, new trim elements in the dashboard, more bling-y mood lighting and more extensive application of high-gloss black. All of it does come together beautifully, making the cabin feel every bit as expensive and lavish as the E-Class.
However, and like the E-Class, the 6 GT does miss out on some notable features. You don’t get massage seats and neither are the seats cooled. While the rear seats have electric recline the passengers at the back do not have controls to slide the front passenger seat forward. You do get a massive panoramic sunroof, unlike the two sunroof set up in the E. And, unlike the E, you get a rear seat entertainment package featuring 10.25-inch screens with screen mirroring from compatible mobile phones and — something that I haven’t heard of or even seen in ages! — a Blu-ray player. The Harman Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers is also standard on all variants and it does sound absolutely fantastic, right on par with the E-Class’ Burmester. The 6GT also gets the parking assistant where it will remember the last 50 meters that the car drove before being parked and it will reverse it out in a similar fashion autonomously. You can also use the remote key to park it into a tight spot, though that option is only available on the 630d. Even gesture control for things like increasing the volume or changing tracks is only available on the 630d.
The 6GT has a 95mm longer wheelbase than the 5 Series and it does deliver plenty of space, especially at the back. You honestly will not need or ask for more but, if you look at outright spaciousness, the E-Class still has the edge.
Final point on the space and where the 6GT outscores the E-Class is boot space. Like the E, the 6GT too doesn’t have a wheel well to house the spare but, unlike the E, the 6GT does have a much bigger boot to start with so you do get considerably more luggage space.
Performance of the BMW 630i
Downsizing means 30i no longer equates to a 6-cylinder engine, the 630i getting the 4-cylinder turbo-petrol putting out 254bhp of power and 400Nm of torque that peaks at 1550rpm and stays flat till 4400rpm. There is no mild-hybrid assistance on this, or any of the other engines, unlike the updated 5 Series and 6 GT globally — you only get automatic start/stop and brake energy regeneration. Power is sent to the rear wheels via the 8-speed automatic transmission and 0-100kmph takes 6.5 seconds.
This is a smooth and sweet-revving engine but this is not a car that you can play around with, mainly because the tyres are way too massive for the engine output. Maybe with the 261bhp 630d you might be able to get the tail to dance a bit, especially since it makes 620Nm of peak torque, but for the 4-cylinder 630i there’s an over abundance of grip.
Air suspension standard on all variants of BMW 6GT
It’s not only the wheelbase of the 6GT that is longer than the 5 Series, the track widths are also wider by 15mm to ensure this remains a BMW in its driving characteristics. And all variants of the 6GT get air suspension as standard, unlike the E-Class where only the top-end E350d gets air suspension. Air suspension lets you lift the 6GT by an additional 20mm but the standard ride height is good enough to clear even big speedbreakers.
On the dynamics front, one thing is for sure, this is a massive car at just over 5 meters in length. You do have to pay attention to its size especially in the city but, like all BMWs, it gets easier to drive the faster you drive it! Another thing that is abundantly clear — the 6GT clearly has the E-Class in mind. To that end ride comfort has been prioritised over handling and the 6GT rides with a notable plushness and compliance. This is a very comfortable car but, with memories of the E-Class being absolutely fresh, I can say with certainty that the E is is plusher, more luxurious and more comfortable. Where the 6GT scores, like all BMWs, is the handling that is more tied down than the E. Sport mode tightens up the body control and delivers more enthusiastic road manners.
However, if you really wanted handling, wouldn’t you just buy a 5 Series?
Verdict on the BMW 630i
Despite the glut of SUVs, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class continues to be the best-seller in the luxury segment and its volumes have only grown with the long wheelbase variant. This is the reason why BMW are, with this mid-life update, focussing even more on the 6GT rather than the regular wheelbase 5 Series — to give Indian customers exactly what they want, which is space and comfort. It’s a fact that 6GT hasn’t, yet, been able to dent the E-Class’ vice-like grip on the segment and it remains to be seen if BMW will price the updated 6GT more aggressively to break that hold. If this 630i M Sport can match the E200’s Rs 63.6 lakh price tag, or at least maintain the outgoing 630i’s Rs 65.9 lakh tag, that will make the BMW an attractive proposition — it is more sporty to look at, more practical with that massive boot, and has more standard equipment including air suspension and the rear seat entertainment package. For those looking for a more fun to drive car in this segment and are happy to live with the slightly firmer ride, the 6GT remains a very convincing alternative.