Driving Impressions : 2018 BMW 640i xDriveBy: Mark Moskowitz MD
An SUV is always gonna look like an SUV. There's no mistaking a station wagon. Want that extra room and ease of use in a sportier package? Masquerade in a BMW 640i xDrive.
BMW expanded its 6 series offerings for 2018 by adding a model with few extra inches of wheelbase and overall length, and a fold up rear cargo door. This is one huge hatchback. It's easy to access rear section offers 31 cubic feet of storage. Fold down the rear seats and the space increases to 65 square feet dwarfing such competition as the Mercedes E Class wagon, the Volvo V90 wagon and Porsche's Panamera wagon and hatchback. With seats back in place, the rear section is limousine big and it's pretty spacious up front as well.
If you've set your sights on a luxury grand touring sedan, the BMW 640i xDrive is worth a look.
Exterior and Styling
The 640 has a substantial look. There are enough lines and bulges in the BMW's side view to interest the observer and give the impression of both power and bulk. The paired front lower air intakes of the M Sport Package rest on multi angled surfaces which bring to mind an F1 spoiler..very nice. Above and centered is the present interpretation of one of the world's most famous grills and badges; who can argue? From the rear and the rear ¾ view, the eye is distracted from the hatchback by a slowly rising swage line which leads to a thick lip which suggests aerodynamic significance. If it's not enough, a larger aerodynamic device elevates at speed or with the flick of a dashboard switch. The front ¾ view is less pleasing, the roof seems to descend abruptly causing one to wonder where it stops.
Interior, Ergonomics and Electronics
The cockpit is sleek and luxurious as expected: lots of leather, a mat black Sensatec (vinyl) finished dash top, mat black leather wheel and gloss black dashboard with back lit controls surrounded by accents of satin finished metal. The combination is elegant, easy to see and easy to access.
A quiet read of the owner's manual could not fully explain all the features of BMW's incredible iDrive and infotainment system. An hour watching YouTube videos and another hour with a BMW rep augmented the in-cockpit and behind the wheel experiences. The electronic brain is fast and intuitive. Visuals are provided by a 10.3 inch transversely oriented touch screen, one big enough to house three simultaneous displays. Other entries into the system include voice, steering wheel controls, dashboard knobs, console mounted tabs and a circular joy stick. Seven memory buttons store radio stations, destinations, frequently viewed screens, telephone numbers, etc. The look and feel of many of these controls are enhanced by a ceramic coated exterior (a $650 option). All of this is part of iDrive 6.0. Worth mentioning is an outstanding nav system which is augmented in real time by info from others in the BMW community in an app seemingly similar to Waze, and should you opt for the Executive Package ($2150), functions can be accessed by gesture control (a circle turns up volume) and the Head-up display can be altered and moved to suit the driver's field of view.
Picking a few nits with the interior, I would like a bit more storage. The glove box is too small for the manuals and the console mounted closed storage is just 3.5 inches deep. The cup holders block access to the only other open space which is fortunately large enough to house and charge larger cell phones; but where am I going to drop my keys and fob?
With the seat at its lowest position, entry and exit are relatively easy. The high bolsters are an impediment and with the seat left in my normal driving position (midway between the lowest and highest position and set back to allow an outstretched arm driving position) a bit of contortion on entry and exit is required. The 7 Series' automatic tilt away steering or seats which automatically move back and downward would be welcome. Seat back bolsters are adjustable; seat bottom bolsters should be as well. Once ensconced, I found the panoramic view, footwell room, head room and seating position praiseworthy.
BMW obviously understands the Grand Touring experience. Four and probably five can travel in quiet comfort for hours. Rough roads rarely disturb. The Integral Active Steering works well.
The three driving modes (Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro) affect steering, engine, transmission and suspension and can be mixed and modified to suit driver preference. Don't expect a tight super-responsive handling in Sport Mode. It's predictable and capable at speed and in the turns but more comfortable than crisp.
The eight-speed transmission shifts effortlessly and appropriately in all modes. Active gear changes can be accomplished with the floor mounted shifter or the relatively small paddles. From launch and under heavy acceleration, there seemed a bit less lag in manual mode.
There's plenty of power. BMW claims 0-60 times of 5.1 seconds. Though no light weight, the 640i pulls strongly to triple digits with no flat spots.
The BMW 640i x Drive lists for $69700. Few would buy that car. Adding the features expected in a modern luxury GT will cost another $10,000 (see list below). The well-optioned BMW 640i x Drive has striking good looks, a massive interior, advanced electronics and purist pleasing punch. It may just be worth it.