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BMW 6 gains two doors

BMW releases photos and details of a new version of its 6-series, the Gran Coupe, with two rear doors, which allow easier access to the rear seat.

BMW 6-series Gran Coupe
BMW gave its 6-series two rear doors and called it a Gran Coupe. BMW

Joining the four-door coupe trend pioneered by the Mercedes-Benz CLS 550, BMW adds rear doors to its 6-series, calling it a Gran Coupe.

At first glance, the 6-series Gran Coupe seems an odd overlap with the 7-series. BMW says the Gran Coupe fills a niche, being a car for buyers who want the sporty look of the 6-series, but also want a usable rear seat.

Normal rear doors give access to the rear seat, which will only hold two adults comfortably. BMW calls the seating configuration 4+1, as the hump in the middle of the rear bench is too prominent for long term comfort. Unlike the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera, the new Gran Coupe employs a conventional trunk lid rather than a hatchback.

Rather than using the 6-series Gran Coupe to showcase new technologies, BMW fits it with its latest engines, cabin electronics, and driver assistance systems. The base model, and the first to go on sale, will be the 640i Gran Coupe, using BMW's excellent direct injection and turbocharged 3-liter inline six cylinder engine. With tweaked power and an eight speed automatic transmission, BMW says this version hits 62 mph in 5.4 seconds.

Following will be rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive V-8 versions, using the 650i designation. With its 445 horsepower, that version of the Gran Coupe will get to 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds. These engine configurations follow those of BMW's large cars.

BMW offered a laundry list of driver assistance features for the Gran Coupe, including night vision with pedestrian detection, its new full color head-up display, and LED headlights with adaptive cornering. The navigation system and cabin electronics will also be of the current generation from BMW, which includes integrated Google local search and app integration through iPhone.

As the production version of the Gran Coupe goes on sale next year, we expect to see it at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.