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HATCHING A NEW NICHE: BMW breaks ground with its 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo by opting for a hatchback design instead of a sedan-style trunk

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Always looking for a new niche, BMW has crafted a large, luxurious cruiser with an unexpected surprise: a hatchback!

This has provided the Bavarian designers with a stylistic advantage. Without a traditional trunk to work around, they have come up with a sweeping, coupe-like design that not only looks fabulous, but provides an unexpectedly commodious passenger and cargo compartment that rivals competitive SUVs.

The 640i is based largely on the company’s 5- and 7-series cars, “largely” being the operative word here. This is a big Bimmer, stretching over 200 inches long. And it’s also a heavy beast, crushing the scales at over two tons, even with its extensive use of aluminum.

Fortunately, thanks to BMW’s mastery with engines, the 640i’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder is up to the challenge. Thanks in part to its broad torque curve, turbine-smooth surges of power are available at virtually any speed, abetted by an equally willing, super-slick eight-speed automatic transmission.

Our test car came fitted with a Dynamic Handling package ($4,100) featuring adaptive air suspension, adaptive dampers and an active steering setup. The result? Wonderfully serene and quiet highway cruising, while remaining virtually flat in all but the sharpest curves.

The car’s cabin is perhaps the most delightful part of the 640i. Awash in luxurious leathers with exquisite stitching, open-pore wood trim, and other top-quality details, the car’s hefty pricing comes into sharper focus inside. Even back-seat passengers enjoy superb seating, and there’s plenty of room for even the long of limb. Thanks again to the hatch design, the tall greenhouse provides a bright and airy ambiance.

And speaking of pricing, let’s face it, BMWs are generally a pricey proposition, particularly at this level in the lineup. Options can add up frighteningly fast, but don’t you really want those soft-close automatic doors? Slamming them shut on such a lovely car would be so declassé.

As a hybrid of sedan, coupe, station wagon and CUV, the Gran Turismo sets a new standard of luxury, performance and utility. BMW has created a new niche, and it’s a pretty darned nice one.