Some 8 years after Mercedes-Benz first launched the CLS-Class, BMW is finally on the verge of revealing its big four-door fastback. Essentially a variant of the 6 Series with two extra doors, the car is expected to debut in mid-2012.
It was first previewed as the BMW Concept Gran Coupe at the 2010 Beijing auto show, and information about the production version is just now starting to trickle out from BMW.
While the BMW insiders we spoke with acknowledge the car is late to market (the Audi A7 also beat it to showrooms), BMW wanted to get the convertible — the first of the new generation 6 Series models — launched to market in time for summer in the northern hemisphere. The coupe is coming soon, and the M versions are expected shortly after that.
The upcoming four-door car runs on the same 116.8-inch wheelbase as the 5 Series instead of the new 6 Series’ 112.4-inch wheelbase. But like the coupe and convertible, the four-door is also wider than a 5 Series at 74.9 inches, and sits on a wider track.
Most important, it is about 3.5 inches lower than a 5 Series, at roughly 54 inches. This low, wide stance is vital to the overall style befitting cars in the so-called four-door coupe category. At 197.1 inches overall, it’s 2 inches longer than a Mercedes CLS-Class.
The bodywork retains the frameless door glass of the 6 Series coupe, but there is a B-pillar, so even with all the windows rolled down, it can’t provide that open-sided hardtop look.
Powertrain options are expected to be the same as the 6 Series lineup: BMW’s 3.0-liter I-6 twin-scroll turbo with direct injection, and the twin-turbo V-8. They hook up to BMW’s eight-speed transmission.
A new option — at least for the V-8-powered models — will be BMW’s XWD all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring. Other chassis systems, standard or optional, include variable damping, active variable-ratio four-wheel steering, and BMW’s Dynamic Drive adaptive anti-roll system.
To keep weight off, the four-door uses aluminum for the front hood and doors, thermoplastics for the front fenders, and SMC plastic for the trunk lid. As with other top-line BMWs, a full suite of telematics and driver assistance systems are on the menu.
We don’t know yet whether BMW will keep the concept’s Gran Coupe badging, but it would make sense, given the car’s intentions. Yes, BMW is way past fashionably late to this party. We’ll see if that makes a difference when it hits showrooms next year.