Vehicle Comparisons

BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo

BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo

The BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo is a uniquely styled five-door executive car that certainly won't be for everybody but it is pretty unique. And a great deal more appealing than this model was in its previous 5 Series Gran Turismo guise thanks to smartened styling, improved efficiency, an updated cabin and extra boot space. Choose it over a 5 Series Touring estate if you want more generous rear legroom and extra exclusivity.

For our market, three engines are being offered - two petrol units and one diesel. Most buyers will choose the single diesel model, a 630d variant powered by a 263bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. The petrol options are the 630i and 640i derivatives, which use a 255bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and more potent 335bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo respectively.

The engines all feature the usual BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and all variants have to have an eight-speed Steptronic auto transmission with paddles as standard. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in the 630i Gran Turismo manages zero to 62mph in 6.3 seconds. The 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line petrol engine in the 640i xDrive variant improves the sprint figure to 5.3 seconds. The 630d version accelerates from zero to 62mph in 6.1 seconds.

BMW's xDrive four-wheel-drive system is available on all but the entry-level petrol model. All versions feature self-levelling air-suspension on the rear axle. Two-axle air-suspension plus adaptive dampers are available as an option. As usual with BMWs, there's a 'Drive Performance Control' system to adjust the car's settings according to the driving conditions. As well as an efficiency-minded 'ECO PRO' mode, the set-up has 'COMFORT' and 'SPORT' settings, while customers who choose the 'Adaptive' and 'Executive Drive' options that include adaptive damping add 'COMFORT+' and 'ADAPTIVE' modes to the Drive Performance Control selection.

In place of the lumpy, clunky looks of the old 5 Series Gran Turismo model, there's a more eye-catching profile this time round. The 6 Series Gran Turismo is 87mm longer and 21mm lower than its predecessor and 64mm of height has been shaved off the rear end to give the car a sportier stance. The A-pillars are much more heavily raked than before and the flowing roofline and sweeping side window design gives more of a coupe look. This model is 150kg lighter than its predecessor too.

Inside, the cabin's more spacious. At the wheel, a raised seating position optimises the driver's all-round view and the dash is dominated by a freestanding 10.25-inch touchscreen for navigation, communication and infotainment functions, featuring optional gesture control, which allows certain functions to be operated with simple movements of the hand or fingers. These are registered by a 3D sensor in the centre console and translated into the relevant commands. Customers can also opt for the new-generation BMW Head-Up Display. The rear has three full-size seats and customers can opt for electrically-adjustable chairs where the backrest angle can be altered at the push of a button. Boot capacity has increased by 20-litres to 610-litres, while folding the 40:20:40 split rear bench increases space to 1,800-litres - a 110-litre improvement.

It's hard to fault the thinking behind this 6 Series Gran Turismo. You'd think, after all, that there would be a significant number of luxury saloon buyers wanting SUV-style road presence, plenty of SUV owners needing something a little less in your face and even a fairly large-sized batch of executive estate customers wanting something a little more interesting this time round. Now all of these people had options before this GT came along of course, but these always required compromising on the core values that each group held dear. In contrast, this BMW offers more of what they want with none of the concessions normally needed.

Of course, there's always the danger that in trying to be too many things to too many people, you can end up pleasing nobody, but then this German brand has never been a company averse to taking a few risks. In this case, that's brought us a fascinating blend of upmarket class, refinement, and practicality that once more proves the Bavarians' mastery in making large heavy cars handle like much smaller, sportier ones. It's over long distances at high speeds though, that it really comes into its own. A Gran Turismo - just as BMW promised.

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Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

The Mercedes CLS was the original 'Gran Turismo'-style four-door coupe model in the full-sized Executive segment and its always been the only choice if you only want four doors in a model of this sort. This third-generation version reprises much of the style of the original and showcases the brand's most cutting-edge engine technology.

As expected, both the 350d and 400d CLS models both come with the new in-line six-cylinder diesel engine that Mercedes first launched in the revised S-Class saloon. It produces 286bhp and 600Nm of pulling power in the 350d and 340bhp and 700Nm of torque in the 400d. The 350d variant can sprint from rest to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds, while the 400d takes five seconds. Both have an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

The CLS 450 uses another new six-cylinder engine, this one a 3.0-litre in-line biturbo petrol unit featuring Mercedes-Benz's innovative new EQ boost technology, consisting of a 48-volt inline starter generator. It has an output of 367bhp and 500Nm of torque, with an extra 250Nm and 22bhp available thanks to the EQ boost system. It can travel from standstill to 62mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph. 4MATIC all-wheel-drive comes as standard across the range. Plus, you can have 'AIR BODY CONTROL' air suspension. More technology is provided by the optional autonomous driving set-up that when activated, allows the car to pretty much drive itself, working with the adaptive cruise control and active steering systems to keep this CLS rolling in its chosen lane at any chosen speed up to 130mph.

There was a certain delicacy to the styling of the first CLS. It was almost as if a basic shape was decided on early in the design process and then all the details and extraneous gewgaws were pared back. Less really was more. The second-generation model decided that more was, after all, more. The styling was busier with a more muscular bulge to its wheel arches and a front end that was more pit bull than its slightly feline predecessor. This MK3 model is classier and more desirable, its character marked by a forward-slanting front section and a grille contour that widens towards the base. Other features include wide, low-set headlamps and two-section tail lights.

At first glance, you'll take in the arching waistline, the flat side window lines and low roofline, all contributing to a Cd value of 0.26 that's positive proof of this design's sleek aerodynamics. Inside, it feels more spacious than the previous model and, as with the latest E-Class and -Class models, the brand delivers a 'widescreen cockpit' design that sees two 12.3inch displays arranged beneath a shared, continuous glass cover. Move to the back and you'll find that this CLS Coupe is a five-seater for the first time. When required the backrests can be folded down in a 40/20/40 ratio, expanding the generous 520litre luggage compartment.

There wasn't much wrong with the previous second generation CLS, so not too much needed to be done to fix this MK3 model. The introduction of class leadingly-efficient six-cylinder engines represents the key change. That and styling that rests a good deal easier on the eye than it did before.

Ultimately then, this is for self-made business people an appropriate reward for a lifetime's endeavour - and a very complete car indeed, provided you can afford its significant price tag. Once upon a time, people like this could admire a Mercedes, aspire to ownership, or respect what it did but they rarely formed an emotional bond with one. But then the CLS arrived and changed all that. As it still does.

Click here to find out more about our Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class range
Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger

Kia is taking German executive models head-on with this classily-styled Stinger, a 'gran turismo' high performance five-door coupe flagship model that does nothing less than set out to completely change your perceptions of the brand.

Entry-level 'GT-Line' and 'GT-Line S' Stinger models are powered by either a 244bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder T-GDi engine or a 197bhp 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel. They're both reasonably fleet, the 2.0-litre variant capable of 60mph in 5.8s en route to 149mph. With the diesel, the readings drop to 7.3s and 143mph, but an increase in torque from 353 to 440Nm means that in real world driving, the CRDi variant will probably feel much quicker.

It's the top 'GTS' variant though, that should really get the juices following, this derivative featuring a potent twin-turbo 365bhp 3.3-litre V6 T-GDi engine beneath the bonnet, this variant capable of taking the car from standstill to 60mph in only 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 168mph where allowed. All models drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox with five different shift and throttle programmes and the option of full manual control using the steering wheel-mounted paddles. The 'GT-S' has variable gear ratio steering and electronic suspension which can be set to one of five modes. In the 'Sport' or 'Sport+' driving settings, the engine emits an exciting growl. In fact, this car is almost everything you wouldn't expect a Kia to be.

This model is a five-door hatch aimed at slinkier premium-badged models like Audi's A5 Sportback and BMW's 3 Series GT, plus also perhaps, four-door saloons with coupe-like rear styling like Volkswagen's Arteon. Kia prefers to call the Stinger an executive 'gran turismo' and says that this model's styling 'evokes memories of the classic age of grand tourers'. Whatever your perspective on that, it's difficult to argue that this is one of the most strikingly styled Kia models we've seen to date.

It certainly feels very opulent inside, where leather upholstery in either black, grey or red is standard across the range, as is front seat heating and electric adjustment for the D-shaped leather-trimmed steering wheel. More high-grade leather features on the dashboard and door armrests, plus there's an aluminium finish centre console, the highlight of which is an 8-inch colour infotainment touchscreen. Rear seat space is acceptable by class standards, with adequate legroom for even taller adults. Despite the coupe-like roofline, you shouldn't struggle for headroom either. And there's a decently-sixed 406-litre boot - though that's 74-litres less than you'd get in an Audi A5 Sportback.

Think of everything you expect a Kia to be. Bet you're not thinking of anything like this. But then that's just the point. The Stinger has been designed to get you thinking differently. It's arguably more stylish than rival Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 3 Series GT and Volkswagen Arteon models. It's certainly much better value, will be better equipped and will probably offer you a lot more performance for your money. True, efficiency figures aren't quite up to Teutonic standards. And the boot is a little smaller than rival trunks. But otherwise, this design is impressively hard to fault.

This is the South Korean maker laying claim to be a world-class car manufacturer. And with a Stinger in your driveway, that claim would seem to be very credible indeed.

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