Farewell Gran, I didn’t even know you were gone.
As a younger man, I used to marvel at the enthusiasm with which my more elderly relatives would pounce upon the obituary section of their local newspapers. At the time it seemed a rather morbid pasttime to seek out those amongst one’s number who had most recently entered the spiritual realm, but as I’ve entered middle age and become a little more empathetic, (not to mention closer to time’s scythe), I’ve realised that this habit stems more from a not unreasonable concern that a neighbour or acquaintance might depart this mortal coil without them having the opportunity to pay their respects.
You probably didn’t open DTW this morning to be confronted with meditations upon mortality and for that I can only apologise. But having recently been placed in something of a similar position, I am by way of redress donning belated black to mark the passing of a vehicle which perhaps deserved a more timely obituary. You see, the F06 BMW 6-Series Gran Coupé was phased out as long ago as last October; a matter to which I was blithely unaware, assuming it would be retained in production until closer to the announcement of its successor. Not so.
First introduced in 2012, the Gran Coupé marked Munich Milbertshofen’s rather belated response to the success of Mercedes’ W219 CLS and Audi’s A7 in the four-door personal luxury saloon/coupé sector – one which Daimler rather fatuously claimed to have invented back in 2004.
To all intents and purposes, a stretched four-door version of the F13 6-series which had debuted the previous year, the Gran Coupé was, like its sibling, no design paragon, yet despite sharing nose and tail styling, it contrived to appear considerably more resolved and elegant – no doubt attributable to the longer, more rakish canopy, defined boot volume and relatively restrained surface treatment.
Indeed, the F06 was (certainly by the time the second generation C218 CLS arrived on the scene in 2010) the most visually attractive of the three German luxury saloon-Coupés, although if you were to suggest that Ingolstadt’s contemporary A7 provided more in the looks department, I probably wouldn’t argue with you.
Moreover, the BMW was to some eyes at least, a car which came close in conceptual terms to the template embodied within Jaguar’s original XJ6, which is both high praise and yet at the same time more credit than it really deserves. Certainly however, the GC represented a broad hint as to where Mr. Callum perhaps ought to have directed his design team’s attentions.
The Gran Coupé proved a successful (and highly profitable) model line, in the US market in particular, but its four-door format probably allowed it to make an impression upon newer, far-Eastern markets as well, places where the 2-door 6er might have encountered more potential buyer resistance.
But time and nomenclature wait for nobody and BMW’s product strategists (who really do have an awful lot to answer for these days), clearly established from their focus group work that while Sechs was good, Acht was better still, from a transaction price perspective if nothing else.
This has precipitated a redrafting of numerical nameplatology culminating in the forthcoming 8-Series Gran Coupé, which was shown in moody-lit teaser form last week. Scheduled to be revealed in full within a matter of weeks, the Achter GC is unlikely to deviate dramatically from the stylistic template established by the current 8-Series Coupé, joining virtually all its putative rivals in adopting the fastback silhouette now considered de rigueur. But given the corpulence of the existing 8er, one can only guess at the scale of its Gran Coupé version.
But while we have donned our best mourning apparel, not only should we bid a tardy farewell to the already departed GC, we ought to prepare ourselves for the fast approaching day when nothing BMW produces has any redeeming aesthetic qualities whatsoever – a state of affairs which is edging perilously close to reality.
With this in mind, a more assiduous scan of the auto-obituaries would probably be in order.