These were big, complex and expensive. Now they’re just big and complex
So should you risk looking at buying a used car like this? They were both over £60,000 when new, laden with gadgets and electronics, and with premium badges that many suspect will lead to premium bills the very first time a warning light comes on.
BMW 6 Series 640d Gran Coupé SE
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new: £63,900
Price today: £21,000
Torque: 464lb ft
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 50.4mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 148g/km
Lots of people feel like that, and you can see the result in the residuals. The older BMW here has fallen by two thirds, while the slightly newer Porsche has held its value better but has still seen 50 per cen t of its value wiped out since 2011. So might you be enticed?
And, more importantly, might you consider the premium on the Porsche a price worth paying?
You won’t the first time you floor the throttle. Both cars have 3.0-litre turbodiesels, but the Porsche produces about 60bhp less than the BMW, with less torque too. What it does produce more of is noise, particularly when you belt away from the lights.
Given that the noise is a diesel this isn’t great, and you’ll fume as the BMW moves smoothly and quietly ahead. But as speeds rise the Porsche’s handling and steering start to come into their own. The steering on the Panamera is a bit tough at low speeds but is beautifully weighted as pace rises. The BMW doesn’t feel quite so good but it handles virtually as well, particularly if you can find one with the Active Drive system.
But the BMW rides really hard at lower speed, despite it easing nicely at higher speed. The Porsche too lets you feel road imperfections without much filtering at lower speeds but again improves with pace. You can improve the BMW’s ride by avoiding the larger 20-inch alloy options since they are too big, have low-profile tyres that are run-flats, and contribute to a really harsh ride.
Slide into the cabins and it’s the Porsche all the way. It feels so opulent and sporty and classy that the BMW, no slouch in this department, looks a bit wan and insipid. The Panamera is also larger with more room everywhere and has an easily accessed boot which is also large.
Porsche Panamera Diesel
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new: £62,134
Price today: £33,000
Torque: 406lb ft
Top speed: 150mph
Fuel economy: 43.5mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 172g/km
The BMW’s cabin is like others in the range, so features some lovely kit like the iDrive infotainment system, and it feels really well made. But next to the Panamera it has to take second place without a doubt.
But then the BMW is cheaper – and it’s not often you say that at this end of the range. Given the lower price point and the slightly higher depreciation, in terms of hard cash the BMW will probably cost about the same as the Porsche in money lost over three years. And an annual tax bill of £150 seems an absolute bargain given how much thrust you have at your disposal, and given the £220 a year the Panamera will cost – which itself doesn’t seem outrageous for what you’re getting.
And that tax is partly down to some decent fuel consumption, with the BMW claiming 50.4mpg and the Porsche 43.5mpg. Naturally you won’t make either of those figures, but both cars are hardly gas guzzlers, despite their charisma.
But of the two there’s no getting away from the fact that the Porsche Panamera has the glitz and the glamour – and it has some higher costs too. It’s gorgeous, particularly in the cabin, and has the practicality of four doors and a big boot with a big opening. It handles like a Porsche, and you don’t need to add to that.
But it will cost to buy and to run, and it’s disappointing that the engine feels and sounds so raucous in comparison with the BMW. It’s a big car and it only really feels wieldy when you’re moving at some pace. Not everyone wants to spend their time honking down fast roads.
Whereas with the BMW it feels much more practical more of the time. It doesn’t cut quite the dash that the Panamera does, but this is still a really premium car. We don’t like the low-speed ride, but everything else works perfectly. It’s definitely quicker than the Porsche, which you might not expect, and it delivers all that with much less noise and drama.
It’s a great long-distance car, quiet, serene, powerful and premium. The fact that it’s cheaper to buy and cheaper to run by a margin than the glamorous Porsche means the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé is our rightful winner. And one that’s within reach of more people than it ever was.
Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing