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2012 BMW 640i First Drive Review - VIDEO ENHANCED

2012 BMW 640i  (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 BMW 640i Coupe

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

SEE ALSO: Henny's BMW 6 Series Convertible Review

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe

GARCHING, Germany - June 30, 2011: After driving the new BMW 6 Series Convertible in January, it was just a matter of time before the first get together with the new Coupe would be a fact. This week, the waiting was over. Visitors of the New York Auto Show had already the opportunity to check out the new Coupe, but out in a natural setting, on the road, is where a new model should be seen.

I have to be honest: I am more in favor of coupes than convertibles. Topless driving is nice indeed, and on many days the weather is good enough to drop the top. Even in The Netherlands. But you have to be in the mood for touring. Like we did in South Africa, during the first drive with the 650i Convertible. Then you can enjoy the car and the environment. There is an other aspect: even though the 6 Series Convertible is good looking with the soft top closed, the Coupe shows the lines of a well balanced, sophisticated and utterly sporty design.

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe - interior

When walking around my test car for the day, a red 640i, I was caught by Adrian van Hooydonk, chief designer of the BMW Group and my fellow countryman. He asked about my thoughts and admitted: “For a designer a coupe is better, it allows you to pronounce the lines exactly as you intend them to be.”

The shark nose with the upright, somewhat slanted forward kidney grille is representing the design philosophy for sporty BMW models. Van Hooydonk is also happy with the(optional) Adaptive LED lights that are used for all functions in the adaptive headlights and in the rear lights. “They are recognizable by the cool white light, while we could also stuck to the double round lamp design up front and the L shape with two LED light strips in the rear. Also the blinkers are LEDs.”

Click PLAY to watch the BMW 6 Coupe promo video

Driving part
After establishing my ideal position behind the steering wheel, it is time to start the six-cylinder engine of the 640i. Last year, BMW introduced this 3-liter motor in the 7-series, which meant the return of an I-6 since the beginning of the nineties. With twin-turbocharger and direct injection technology it generates 235 kW/320 hp and reaches its maximum torque of 450 Nm/332 lb-ft between 1,300 and 4,500 rpm, sprints from zero to 62 mph in 5.4 seconds and reaches a (limited) top speed of 155 mph..

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe - engine

Soon it is obvious that – even though I am a big fan of the mighty V-8 engines and in this case would gladly accept the 650i model – this 6-cylinder is all you need to use the new Coupe as a sports machine. Accelerating means you are pushed back in the seat, while getting a wooow-feeling. Overtaking and merging is peanuts. The transmission works its way through the eight gears nearly unnoticed and shifting yourself by means of the paddles at the steering wheel goes natural and fast too. Braking is like we call in The Netherlands ‘een eitje’, a little egg…. The instant reaction of the brakes and the ultimate grip is fantastic.

With the optional Adaptive Drive the suspension can handle brutal maneuvering, like cornering or making a sudden lane change to avoid the (imaginary) obstacle at high speed. Don’t worry, I found a road that without any traffic in sight both ways…! The Adaptive Drive including active roll stabilization makes the most of the suspension. I could hardly feel any body roll in bends at higher speeds.

Again Heinz Krusche, BMW's chassis guru, and his team have done an outstanding job in fine tuning the set up of the suspension. Because he can feel in his spine and buttocks what a car is doing, or even before it is doing something, Mr. Krusche is nicknamed Mr. Butt. He has been responsible for the driving dynamics of all BMW Group’s vehicles for the past 30 years. (To watch TACH's exclusive interview with Heinz Krusche CLICK HERE)

Mr. Krusche explained that suspension of the Convertible is more oriented at comfortably cruising. For the Coupe the GT idea is applied. Which means that the dampers are 20 per cent stiffer. “There is no sport suspension available for the Coupe,” Krusche said, “since the basis is sporty enough. The electronically controlled dampers are 20 per cent stiffer. Including integral active steering and active roll stabilization, it was possible to always get a neutral behavior.”

Integral Active Steering combines the active steering for the front wheels with a steerable rear axle. Compared to the Convertible the roll bar up front has the same diameter but at the rear it is 1 mm less. “That is because the helper spring has a different character, because it is longer. It compensates for the body stiffness, that roughly went up 34 per cent (body-in-white), while torsion stiffness increased by 8 per cent, ” according to mr. Krusche.

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe - dash

There is also a choice for the vehicle set up by a push of the button in the center console for Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The 640i has an extra mode, Eco Pro. The last one is for optimized efficiency. In the instrument panel you can see that you safe petrol (op to 20 per cent when cruising), while you can also feel the air conditioning is working less. In the Eco mode the damper set up is the same as in Comfort and the gas input is reduced. You can see the rev meter dropping and adjust your attitude accordingly, but also in Eco mode, the 640i provides a wonderful sporty feel.

Standard is also the Auto Start-Stop function, which is barely noticeable, since the engines starts the very instant you are thinking about taking off again.

It speaks for itself that the new 6 Series Coupe is packed with technology and options. My test car was equipped with 19 inch wheels with 245/50 R19 rubber at the front and 275/35 R19 at the rear.

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe - B&O speaker
It also had HUD display. It is an option, but I think it should be standard on any 6 Sreries. The new Bang & Olufsen surround system is optional and costs a fortune (just under 5,000 euro), but it is awesome. For the first time, the 6 Series will be available with xDrive in the 650i Coupe and also in the 650i Convertible. It will be available in a later stage for the 640i and the 640 diesel.

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe - trunk space

The 6 Series Coupe will arrive in North America on October 1st as 650i and 650i xDrive. It can be expected at markets world wide on October 15. In Germany the prices start with 74.700 euro for the 640i. The price for the BMW 6 Series 650i Coupe in the U.S. will start at $ 83,000.

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2012 BMW 640i Coupe - rear camera

Technical details BMW 640i Coupe:
I-6-TwinPower-Turbo, four valves/cyl., displacement 2,979 liter/181.8, performance 235 kW/320 PS @ 5,800-6,0000/min, max torque 450 Nm/332 lb.ft@1,300-4,599/rpm, 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifting, rear wheel drive, 0–100 km/h/62 mph 5,4 s, top speed 250 km/155 mph. Fuel economy EU test cycle 7.8 l/100 km (6.4 mpg imp), CO2 emissions 181 grams/km.