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Photography by Craig Landale

2 Days in Marseille with the BMW 6 Series

The landing on Marseille soil was bumpy to say the least, but the airport taxi driver assures us "this wind is nothing compared to usual, it's always very windy here", which seemed to be a perfectly timed comment as the lorry in front of us swerved into the next lane scaring the hell out of an old lady in a hatchback. It was our first time in the city and when we told the driver we'd previously been to neighbouring city Nice, he was quick to state how "Marseille is totally different to Nice".

And of course – the reason why we are here was totally different to our last French visit. Thanks to BMW we got the chance to experience their latest version of the 6 Series over two days. We couldn't wait to get on the road in our recently released BMW 6 Series, and on first glance of the 3 models available, we were totally amazed by these truly luxurious sports cars. The BMW 6 Series 640d Convertible made us dream of driving across Europe with the top down, the BMW 6 Series 650i xDrive Gran Coupé was next level luxury with more space and comfort than the average London flat, and the BMW 6 Series 650i Coupé made us all wish we had car that looked this cool - oh, and we couldn't wait to see what this part of France had to offer too.

Day one was reserved for a summertime road trip around Miramas. Day two should take us to a BMW test track. The first day started with an introduction by BMW for all three 6 Series models. We had to choose which one we’d like to drive first. We opted for the BMW 6 Series 650i xDrive Gran Coupé. There were some good reasons: First, it was the xDrive introduction that convinced us. xDrive is the permanent all-wheel drive system from BMW – and since we would soon be driving on narrow roads it seemed like the perfect choice... and it was! 

The Gran Coupé looks like a seriously elegant machine with luxury and comfort. Especially in this futuristic Space Grey Metallic colour. When we first entered the car we fell in love with its exclusive interior. With just a quick glance at the instrument panel it was clear what the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé has been designed for: maximum sportiness in a stylish environment. All control elements are inclined towards the driver and can be operated intuitively. Functionality and sporty design is an ideal ratio. You can enjoy all the attributes of a sports car, without sacrificing exclusive comfort. And of course, as design lovers we can’t say no to trim finishers in aluminium high finish. The individual high-gloss satin chrome and individual roof-lining gave the car a distinctive look.

We actually stayed clear of central Marseille so we could spend less time in traffic jams and more time driving. Our exploration took us through Marseille and Miramas to some wonderful national park settings, testing the car under real life conditions. We spent many hours driving through different landscapes and on roads which were narrow with curved mountain bends and through old historic towns. These different scenarios meant we could use the xDrive to aid our driving abilities. 

There was a particular challenging single track winding road high up the hills with breath-taking views. I couldn't let a road like this go to waste by driving like Miss Daisy. So thankfully the xDrive all-wheel drive system is regulated by 'Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)' and uses information from the latter system’s sensors to monitor road conditions. The xDrive intelligent all-wheeldrive distributes drive power between the axles to stop any kind of oversteer or understeer. So we drove safely and comfortably under any condition.

Do you know that fact that everyone throws around about the average car having more technology than the rocket that landed on the moon? Well, we think this 650i xDrive Gran Coupé has more gadgets than both the rocket and the space station combined. Why? Here's a few examples: The Head-Up Display felt like Science Fiction. We particularly liked how the speedometer and sat nav beams itself in high resolution and in full colour onto the front window directly in the drivers eye-line, which somehow doesn't distract you whilst driving and only you can see it. Regarding the brightness we could choose between settings for different light conditions and select which information the Head-Up Display should show. We were able to absorb information much faster, without having to take our eyes off the road. 

While driving we had the chance to experience the variations of the new 'EfficientDynamics'. You have the choice between ECO Mode, Comfort Mode and Sport Mode. ECO Mode offers the most fuel efficient driving style possible. Comfort Mode could be considered as the standard mode and in Sports Mode, the car reacts more directly. On day one we drove most of the time in ECO Mode. Day two – you guessed it – we mainly used the Sport Mode.

Via the 'Multifunctional Instrument Display' each mode is displayed in its own graphical style. The display also allows navigational information to be displayed, including tips from the route-ahead assistant, as well as lists from the entertainment and telephone functions. With a screen diagonal of 10.25", it provides a highly impressive visualisation, which is comparable to a high-end video game – but it is much better, because it’s actual real technology. 

We also liked 'BMW ConnectedDrive'. You could describe this as your personal genie, your travel guide, entertainer or guardian angel. What impressed us most was the 'Concierge Service'. You could ask the “concierge” whatever you wanted to. We used it to find a nearby restaurant (with good reviews) whilst in the middle of nowhere in the south of France. You just press a button and... "Hi, we're somewhere around Vitrolles. We'd like to go somewhere with French cuisine nearby to eat", we then let some polite lady do the admin and digitally send us the directions to our car's navigation, "Sure, I’ll look for some nearby... I'm just reading the reviews to make sure it's a nice restaurant" - a luxury we could get used to and would use often here in London.

Another awesome gadget is known as 'Driving Assistant Plus'. It contains several technologies. For example the 'Lane Departure Warning'. It comes in the form of a camera at the front of your car that will detect if you're veering out of lane. You'll be discreetly reminded via the vibration of the steering wheel if you are. We thought this was useful especially when driving such stunning and elegant sporty cars in another county on the opposite side of the road to what we're familiar with - it truly put us at ease. Later on when we hit the highway the 'Active Cruise Control' reminded me of my old driving instructor. Back in the day he always preached; “Do not drive too close to the car in front!” Well, Active Cruise Control governs that automatically, for example when in a light traffic jam, when the lane ahead of us became clear, Active Cruise Control automatically increased our vehicle's speed to our preferred cruising speed. 

The BMW 6 series – especially the 650i xDrive Gran Coupé – is a big car compared to what we're used to. If you sit inside, you get the impression, the car offers more space than an average London flat. We had no doubt that the whole blogger crew (five grown men) had plenty of room inside the Gran Coupé – without sacrificing comfort. If you have a lot of things to transport, the through-loading system and 40:60 split-folding rear seat backrest enables the capacity of the luggage compartment to expand from 460 litres to max. 1,265 litres. But what we found amazing about this vehicle was how effortless it was to adapt to whilst driving. The cars felt light and smooth on the roads and handled corners at ease, as if it was a smaller car than it actually is. We put the cars to the test on country roads that seem to barely fit two vehicles at once and we had no problems during our trip at all.

Many people are convinced that a car like the 650i xDrive Gran Coupé should be part of a men's lifestyle. Yes, after day one, we definitely could confirm this. It provides the most average of drivers’ confidence behind the wheel. We drove up and alongside mountain views through winding roads with picturesque views of historic villages and vineyards (The kind you see on Top Gear). Beside all the latest car technology and the overall style of the new 6 Series, it was the small things that completed that experience. Whilst listening to music through Bang & Olufsen speakers and sitting on full leather trim 'Merino' cooling seats which were a refreshing and much needed option under the 27 degrees sun as MWS Craig comments "I don't handle the heat too well so it was amazing to not only have fast and effective air conditioning but the comfort of cooling seats. It was certainly one of those moments in life where you have to pinch yourself and mentally think the words 'I love my job' whilst smiling.” 

The next day we got to see what the cars were truly capable of, testing power and handling on a huge test track. So find out if MWS Craig kept his smile whilst driving at more than 140 kilometers per hour in our next article here. Find out more about the new BMW 6 Series.

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