Raw beauty is a big deal in the growing coupe-style luxury sedan segment. And that's where BMW executives say they have the edge over German rivals with the 6-series Gran Coupe.
Extra rear-seat space will help, says Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America. But he is counting on "good looks" to win buyers in a niche where some competitors' styling has been controversial.
The four-door, four-seat 640i with coupe-like lines competes in the segment pioneered by Mercedes-Benz in 2005 with the CLS. Other competitors now include the Porsche Panamera and Audi A7. But Willisch is convinced the 640i is the most attractive.
The Panamera has been criticized for its design, which even Porsche executives admit is polarizing. And while the first-generation CLS was called elegant and eye-catching with its shapely exterior, the sharper lines of the redesigned model have been criticized.
"Design is the No. 1 reason to purchase a car in any premium segment," Willisch said. He wouldn't forecast sales for the Gran Coupe other than say it will add some incremental volume to the 6-series range, now composed of a two-door coupe and convertible with cramped rear seats.
The Gran Coupe uses a modified version of the two-door 6-series platform, but its wheelbase is longer to provide the room to fit two adults comfortably in the rear.