Never an easy car to slot, the GT series from BMW has been a hit nevertheless due to its mix of space, practicality and an added dollop of ride comfort compared to the regular sedans. Now that the 3 Series GT has been axed from the line-up, the larger sibling gets a major facelift and this brings us to the big and barge-y 6GT. Immediately, it looks much sharper than the bulbous hunk of metal that its predecessor was and now there’s a bunch of new toys to play with, both under the skin and inside the cabin.
Wearing the face that adorns the new-generation 5 Series in international markets, we get to see it first on the 6GT here in India and it looks like it means more serious business. But there’s also a lot of grey matter behind that famous frown and kidney grille. The blue elements suggest that it comes with laser lights as standard in this trim and besides lighting up a small suburb, it goes beyond by using selective and non-dazzling beam technology to ensure that oncoming traffic doesn’t get hit by a disco ball, while it monitors speed and direction changes via GPS and increases the throw for a maximum of 650m! Although I didn’t get to take the 630i GT out of the city, even on the western-express highway, the laser lights impress with their illuminating powers and other cars simply fall short once you experience it. Not to mention that they look pretty darn cool too!
Keeping with its comfortable and executive character, the cockpit and the cabin is laden with tech that is usable and superbly integrated. Twin 12.3in screens handle the digital dials and the infotainment display with enough input options to spoil you. Voice, touchpad on the iDrive controller, physical controls, steering mounted controls and the touchscreen itself. The digital dials and instrument cluster takes a while to get used to, with its small font of the key info displayed right at the bottom and even the mirrored rev counter that is diluted by the maps bleeding into it, but it is what it is. Not deal breaking but definitely in need of a re-think. BMW has always been a leader when it comes to adopting new tech for smartphone interfaces and the 630i GT carries that flag high. Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto along with wireless charging front and back, enough USB (A and C) to keep all occupants occupied and even twin screens mounted on the front headrests for the rear passengers. You can be entertained via a built-in Blu-ray player or mirror your phone, all via an accomplished Harman Kardon hi-fi system pumping out sound from 16 speakers! All of this enormously increases the feel-good factor of being in a 6 Series GT, even though on the outside, it isn’t the prettiest thing on the road. To help you see more of the road though, there are cams and reverse parking assistants that work wonders if you ever find yourself at the dead end of a tight spot. The reverse parking assistant remembers the last 50mts of the car's trajectory and simply backs itself out with automatic steering control. It’s fun to watch and safe to use. Trust me, I tried it in a basement parking lot of a mall.
Rivalling the best
The usual aggressive nip and tuck has happened around the front and rear bumpers, with larger air inlets, curtains and dams…all in the effort to minimise turbulence or maximise airflow to the mesmerizingly smooth 4-cylinder engine under the sculpted bonnet. The petrol powered 630i GT is also joined by two diesel siblings but for the sake of this review, we’ll focus on the creamy 2.0L 630i that makes a healthy 258bhp and a generous 400Nm with minimal turbo lag. There’s launch control too if you’re in a hurry to reach the country club but the size and weight of this car makes it ideal as a long-distance easy cruiser, especially when you experience the plushness of the back seat. A very un-BMW like softness is mated to dynamics that make it fun behind the wheel too, but the quality of materials and the visual appeal of the rear bench is hard to resist. Adaptive dampers at each wheel can help raise the ride height by 20mm to clear Mumbai’s Metro-ravaged roads. But, more effectively, it also gives this 630i GT a ride quality that is nothing short of supple. Behind the wheel, it won’t electrify your synapses like the M340i, but if you had to spend the same amount of money on a family mover, the passengers of the 630i GT will be wearing bigger smiles for sure. Power delivery is smooth and linear and tuned for fast journeys, not quick signal-to-signal sprints. The faultless 8-speed transmission always keeps it in the right gear with imperceptible shifts and the large, well-cushioned seats make it easy to forget how many hours you’ve been behind the wheel or behind the driver's seat.
Going head to head with the Mercedes E-Class is never easy for any brand but BMW has armed the 6GT to the teeth with tech, comfort and more than a fair bit of its legendary driving pleasure too. It’s fun to chuck it around and although you will feel the ample posterior of the car behind you, it doesn’t complain too much when you’re in the mood to play. An ideal inter-city luxury shuttle, the 630i GT comes into its own when asked to pamper its inhabitants with a plush ride, great sound and enough tech to hog the bar conversation all night.