Former Skoda design chief, and Bugatti Veyron designer, Jozef Kabaň only took up his new role as BMW head of design operations in February (too late to change direction with the two newly revealed models you see here) but it’s obvious that whatever comes next needs a lot more pizzazz.
Take the new BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo. It replaces the old 5-Series Gran Turismo – which created its own niche back in 2009 – and while its ethos is broadly the same, BMW has altered its name. Confusing. BMW calls it a “large GT”, and in essence it’s a posher version of the 5-Series (with frameless doors!) that also manages to be more practical.
It’s longer and lower than the old 5 GT it replaces, but there’s a fairly fundamental flaw here – it’s a bit of a minger. Could just be us, but we’re fairly confident you’ll agree. There are three full-size seats in the back, which can electronically recline if you tick the right options box.
The seats can all individually split, swelling the base luggage room of 610 litres (up 110 litres on the 5 GT) to 1,800 litres when they’re all folded. As well as being up 100 litres on the 5 GT, that’s the kind of room you get in a Merc E-Class Estate.
And that’s enormous. The 6 GT comes with three engines – 630i and 640i petrols, with a respective 255bhp and 335bhp, and a 261bhp 630d diesel – and a choice of rear or four-wheel drive. Your best 0–62mph time is 5.3 seconds (the 640i) and your best fuel economy 57.6mpg (the 640d with RWD). Prices start at £46,810 for the 630i.
While 18in wheels come as standard, BMW offers 19s, 20s and 21s as options, and we sense the scale of the 6 GT will call for some larger rims. In fact, if you do insist on buying one of these over, say, a 5-Series Touring, then big wheels are probably a must to try and keep the proportion of the plus-sized booty in check.
At the less offensive but no more thrilling end of the spectrum, we have the all-new X3. Yep, what looks like a mildly dramatic facelift is actually the third generation of BMW’s middle-sized SUV. Proof that it’s more about the Sport than the Utility arrives in the form of a 55kg weight cut, 50:50 weight distribution and talk of “reduced unsprung mass”.
There’s also an M badge on the back. If you order the new M40i version, that is. Beneath its M Sport body kit (with optional 21in wheels) is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol turbo engine with 355bhp and 369lb ft. That puts it just above the latest Audi SQ5 and just below the Mercedes GLC 43.
Its 0–62mph time is a hot hatch-beating 4.8 seconds, while BMW claims it’ll still manage 34.5mpg. Impressive numbers, but that’s never been BMW’s problem – right now its design direction is. The “i” brand can do exciting – surely the core model can follow suit.