By Sue Mead, Motor Matters

Joining the BMW 6 Series lineup for 2013, the 640i Gran Coupe is imbued with Palm Beach style and Autobahn roadworthiness. We say yow-za!

Our ride was a traffic-stopper and head-turner in the sleepy-but-stately New England town I call home and, after a week behind the wheel, it's officially my most gorgeous ride -- and that's after trying out more than 100 new models.

Our model came in a luscious White Mineral Metallic, with an Imola Red interior palette. The 640i Gran Coupe starts at $76,895 and includes the 10.5-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system, automatic climate and cruise control, leather seating, power adjustments for front seats, moonroof, adaptive headlamps and 18-inch wheels and tires.

This coupe boasts four doors instead of the two doors on 6 Series stable mates. On the outside, the 640i is unmistakably and unapologetically a luxury ride. Long, low-slung and elegant (it is longer by 4.4 inches than its two-door sibling, with a longer wheelbase, too), the 640i looks like it was formed by molten metal poured into a mold and then cracked open, like a master sculpture from a cast.

The hood is lengthy but the overhang is short, conveying the athletic tuning contained under the chassis. A classic bisected BMW grille is capped by wraparound headlamps stretching into side panels sculpted by character lines; in the back, twin dual exhaust pipes are set within trapezoidal chrome tips, and 18-inch alloy wheels are standard. Rain-sensing and adaptive headlights, which move as the vehicle turns, also are standard.

Inside is a driver-centric cabin drenched in luxury details. The center stack and console are angled toward the driver for easy access to controls, which includes a 10.5-inch screen for the navigation and infotainment system. Leather seats are standard, as are power front adjusting seats with driver-side memory pre-sets. Rear seats split and fold 60/40 to provide access to the trunk or storage for longer items. Gray wood trim is standard, with higher end wood or aluminum trims available. Combined with the leather and smooth interior surfaces, the standard moonroof and ambient lighting make the cabin look and feel sumptuous.

Technology features include voice controls and Bluetooth for communications, as well as automatic cruise control. A high-def radio system includes nine speakers and auxiliary audio input -- surprisingly, for a vehicle in this luxury category, the iPod/USB adapter is available only on the optional sound systems.

Under the hood of the 640i Gran Coupe is an inline six-cylinder twin-turbo motor delivering 315 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque; top speed is 155 and 0-60 time is approximately 5.5 seconds. Initial EPA estimates for gas consumption are 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway, although our drive mpg clocked less. The engine is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with shifts that feel like a hot knife through butter.

The Gran Coupe is a blend of the high-performance 5 Series wheelbase and slightly bigger 6 Series chassis. We can appreciate its driving dynamics, which feel like the smaller 5 drive characteristics, but also give a bit of a sprightly saloon feel. Power is on tap for upshifts and computerized technology and "blips" modulate momentum almost intuitively when letting up on the throttle or brake.

Active steering and roll stabilization technology give an incredibly responsive feel on the road. Drivers can choose from five different drive modes, from the most aggressive Sport+ setting to the new "Eco Pro" mode, which aims to deliver greater fuel efficiency. Brake components include floating calipers on the four-wheel vented discs; safety and handling technologies also include a rearview camera, ABS, traction control, start-off assist and all-season run flat tires.

SPECIFICATIONS

2013 BMW 640i GRAN COUPE

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 4+1-passenger midsize RWD coupe

BASE PRICE____________________ $76,000 (as-tested: $76,895)

MOTOR TYPE__________________ 24-valve inline 6-cyl. w/DI

DISPLACEMENT________________3.0-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 315 at 5800 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 330 at 1400-4500 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________8-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________197.2 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___ 39.2 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 4,190 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY_________________ 18.5 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING____________ 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway