Until the arrival of the Audi R8 V12 TDI, the BMW 635d remains the daddy of diesel powered supercars. But, does the uber-Coupé from Bavaria have what it takes to blow its petrol powered opposition into the weeds?
Say what you like about the mixed-up styling of the BMW 6-Series, it’s an imposing car from any angle, and one that gets people talking about it wherever you take it. Under the bonnet, it’s pretty impressive too, thanks to BMW’s mighty 3-litre twin-turbo engine. But there’s a serious price tag attached, and you’ll need to really love the way it looks and feels to justify it… But I reckon that BMW might have pulled it off. You see, what the overgrown coupé manages to do is make you feel special from the moment you climb in. Climb in, hunker down into that sculpted sports seat, hit the Start button, and you’re left under no illusion that this is a diesel-powered monster on a mission.
In typical straight-six BMW style, the idle is raucous, but the clatter soon becomes a hum, and as soon as you snick the gear selector into D (there’s no sliding through a laborious old gait) and mash the throttle, you’re away quicker than its petrol cousin, the 630i, and breathing down the neck of the 4.8-litre 650i. In terms of raw figures, how does 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155mph sound?
I don’t, however, think that the 635d’s strongest suit is its straight-line grunt, because if that’s all you’re interested in, then the similarly engined 3-Series Coupé offers the same engine in a more lithe package. What you’ll get is an effortless long distance cruiser, which is both hushed and longlegged, and one that will easily beat 35mpg in daily driving. An excellent combination. The heart of all this ability is the critically acclaimed twin-turbocharged engine. Yes it delivers a whopping 286bhp at 4,400rpm, but the statistic that will get dieselheads really excited is this one: 427lb ft of torque at 1,750rpm. In layman’s terms, that means serious grunt from walking pace without ever needing to resort to changing gears using the wheel-mounted paddle selectors.
The gearbox is nice to use, although it takes acclimatisation. The six-speeder uses a joystickstyle gear selector and those paddles, and is ultra responsive in Sport mode. For those who want to play Kimi Raikkonen, the manual changes are swift and you can dive straight in, even with the selector stuck in D. However, automatic control resumes after a few seconds if you leave off those paddles. It’s an effective system, although not as good as VAG’s DSG ‘box, but in reality you simply won’t need the manual option very often. And that suits the way the 635d drives.
Inside, the 635d is an ergonomic masterpiece, even if the overall design looks a little soulless. You either love or hate iDrive, but once mastered, you can get a lot done with that wheel control and single button – even if menu surfing can be a turn-off for many. Several essential controls are still handled by good old fashioned buttons, so the control interface captures the best of both worlds.
The equipment tally is comprehensive to say the least, but then at £56,110 before options, it should be. On the Sport model, as tested, options included the useful Head Up Display and delightful M-Sport steering wheel, along with integrated SatNav and in-car multimedia system, Bluetooth integration for your phone, cruise control and leather trimmed sports seats as standard. You’ll be in no doubt that you’re riding in a very exclusive car. The driving position is first rate, and the multiadjustable electric seats suit all shapes and sizes. Shorter drivers will feel a little claustrophobic inside, and the view out, especially to the rear, is shocking. You’ll definitely be using that graphical parking assist system at every opportunity.
There’s no doubting the 635d’s credentials as a supreme long-distance tourer. It’s quiet, rides reasonably well, handles beautifully, and effortlessly maintains high average speeds for as long as you want it to. Fuel consumption is remarkably good, too, considering its performance potential. So is it a world-beater without rivals? Well, not really. It’s hard not to conclude that the 335d Coupé at £36,160 makes a whole lot more sense at just about every level. Okay, so it lacks the exclusivity and road presence of the 635d, and may be a trifle noisier at cruising, but a £20k saving for a quicker and more dynamic car that shares the same engine seems like a no-brainer to me.
However, what a 335d won’t do is make you feel special enough, and that’s where the mighty 635d scores a killer punch, even if it comes at a premium.
On sale: Now // Price from: £56,110
- Price: £56,110
- Engine: 2993cc, six cylinders, twin turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Max Power: 286bhp at 4,400rpm
- Max Torque: 428lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 2,100kg
- Combined Consumption: 40.9mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 183g/km
- 0-62mph: 6.3 seconds
- Max speed: 155mph
- Insurance group: 19
It’s an almighty long distance continent coverer, handling, ride and brakes are top notch, a real head-turner that makes you feel special
Cramped considering its size, costly compared with a 335d, it could been seen as politically incorrect, it’s hardly beautiful