Review: Grand designs as BMW rediscovers joys of touring with 6-Series GT
BMW has fallen in love again with the concept of the Grand Tourer. The GT is a vehicle in a class of its own, supposedly designed to make long drives luxurious and, well, grander all round.
They are generally coupe-like in appearance, very fast and have a suspension set-up geared towards comfort rather than sportiness.
Of course, down the years, lots of manufacturers have stuck a 'GT' label on cars, often small, sporty hatchbacks and superminis.
These are not Grand Tourers, and the GT badge in this context signals sports performance rather than luxury.
Previously, BMW's main GT offering was the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo (that's Italian for 'Grand Tour').
But this year, it has done an about-face, and the S Series GT is no more. In its place comes the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo.
Apart from the name change, there's lots more that's new about the 6 Series GT.
There's the design, for starters. Not everyone will be a fan, but it's an improvement over the 5 Series: longer and sleeker, with more headroom and boot capacity despite reduced vehicle height.
Despite shedding 115kg, the new car is more muscular in appearance, with a sloping roof line and steeply raked front and rear pillars emphasising its coupe spirit.
Vehicle height has been reduced by 21mm compared to the old 5 Series GT, while the rear end has been lowered by 64mm.
Boot space has been improved. Rear-seat backrests are 40:20:40 split-folding by means of a remote release system in the boot and, behind them, the boot area can accommodate a total of 610 litres (up 110 litres on the 5 Series GT) and 1,800 litres when the backrests are folded down (up 100 litres).
Some of these cars may be purchased by professional chauffeurs not wanting to trade up to the full 7 Series.
The rear is very roomy and can even be specced with reclining rear seats as an option.
The vehicle also features a one-piece electrically operated tailgate, while the boot sill has been lowered by over 5cm and is now flush with the floor for easier loading.
Under the bonnet, for now following its launch last month, you'll find a choice of four engine packages, including two turbo petrols and a very tasty 630d diesel unit that officially claims to return 57.6mpg and 129g/km.
There are xDrive (all-wheel drive) options, and the fastest model in the range will negotiate the sprint from 0-62 in 5.3 seconds.
All variants offer the eight-speed Steptronic transmission with paddles as standard.
A series of ride improvements include self-levelling air suspension as standard at the rear axle and other enhanced handling measures.
You'd expect the cabin to be plush, even by BMW standards - and you'd be right.
A raised seating position is said to improve visibility, and there's a freestanding touchscreen for navigation, communication and infotainment functions.
The high-resolution display has a 10.25-inch diagonal screen with tile-style menu layout and animated graphics. The centre console features the iDrive touch controller dial for BMW navigation and infotainment systems.
Two trims are currently available, SE and M Sport. M Sport offers specific 19-inch light alloys, exclusive leather upholstery and a panoramic roof.
The list of driver assists and technology grows exponentially these days, and the 6 Series GT is no exception.
Real time traffic, email access, remote control parking and 10 connections to mobile internet are all offered.
Particularly useful are the crossing traffic, crossroads and wrong-way warning systems.
The BMW night vision system, meanwhile, gives a real-time video image in the control display that highlights pedestrians, larger animals and other objects radiating heat.
The price ranges from £46,810 for a 630i model, to £52,705 for a 630d xDrive.