BMW 6-series GT: A large and sporty rival for the Mercedes E-class
Slated to go up against the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz E 350d, the new BMW 6-series GT is bound to be priced competitively and rival it in terms of space and comfort. The more attractive profile, the sportier driving dynamics and higher-quality interiors will be what BMW hopes to attract customers with.
Unlike the regular 5-series, it is supreme ride comfort that’s in focus, not just the handling and grip. Importantly, for India, the car also gets a “lift” feature that increases ground clearance by 20mm if you hit the button on the dashboard to enable that. This means most speedbreakers and poorly designed driveways should no longer be a problem. What’s interesting is that the 6 GT rides on the same 3,070mm wheelbase as the regular 7-series (the longer L version sold in India is longer still) and is of the same width. Like both the GTs before it, this model comes with a flowing coupé-like roof, frameless doors and a large tail-gate with a 610-litre capacity. Fold the 40:20:40 split rear seat down electrically and you will get a massive 1,800 litres of luggage space.
It’s also an attractive car: much of the gawkiness of the earlier 5-series GT has been fixed with the new design. The 6 GT has a more steeply raked windscreen, the roof flows over the cabin in a more elegant manner, the sheer length of the car helps give it a lot of presence, and those large wrap-around LED tail-lights make it look quite fetching from the back as well. The 6 GT also gets a 5-series-like nose, with headlight pods fused with the grille.
The cabin is huge and spacious, and quality levels are even better than those of the 5-series. The front seats are simply massive, finished in the highest-quality leather; they offer fantastic shoulder and thigh support, and because the steering wheel has a wide adjustment range, it is easy to find a comfortable driving position. The front seats also get a massage function. The space between the seats is also much more than on the 5-series, adding to the feeling of roominess.
Legroom at the rear isn’t quite as extravagant as the long-wheelbase E- class and the backrest doesn’t recline as much either, but the 6 GT scores in other areas. For one, getting in and out is much easier. The long rear door helps you drop right into the back seat (unlike the E, where you have to get in and then go back), the seat base is a fair bit higher, and, because you can recline the backrest electrically, finding the right angle is easy too. Even though the E-class has a bit more, there’s more than enough legroom here.
Apart from the opulence of the leather-lined and padded dash, the 6 GT also gets a full suite of BMW’s current goodies. You get a screen-based instrument panel, a big high-resolution touch-screen, gesture control, surround-view cameras, remote parking, 10-inch screens for the rear-seat passengers, a 1,400watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system, and even the ability to create a Wi-Fi hot spot.
BMW says ride quality is a priority on the 6 GT, and, in the Comfort Plus mode, the suspension’s most indulgent setting, the car just glides over most rough bits and potholes. The comfort mode offers a healthy blend of an imperiously silent ride and decent agility, and it’s this mode I prefer even when driving along fast expressways. This car is really quite enjoyable to drive, and, importantly, a clear step up from the long-wheelbase E-class.
In India, we are likely to get the same 265hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged-diesel inline-six that powers the 5-series as well. In standard rear-wheel-drive guise, it can do the 0-100 kmph sprint in 6.1 seconds, which is quick and only marginally slower than a similarly specified 5-series. And you can expect all the smoothness and mid-range punch you get in the 5 as well.
The 6 GT will be part of BMW’s two-pronged attack on the long-wheelbase Mercedes E-class, with the 5-series sedan offering an attractive price at one end, and the new 6 GT offering space on the other. The carmaker will rely on local assembly from completely knocked-down kits (CKDs) to help achieve competitive pricing of around Rs 60-70 lakh—at that price, BMW thinks it is in with a shot.