Grand touring coupes are all about dispatching journeys in comfort and dazzling onlookers upon arrival. Thanks to an opulent cabin, voluptuous sheetmetal and a pair of effortlessly powerful engine options, BMW's 6-Series is able to achieve both goals in memorable fashion.
In addition to the stylish coupe detailed in this page, the 6-Series is also available in convertible and four-door Gran Coupe forms.
BMW recently upgraded the 650i's V8 from 400 to 445 horsepower and discontinued the available six-speed manual transmission. A new M Sport Edition package offers a number of luxury and appearance features at a discount.
Though the 6-Series shares a platform with BMW's unassuming 5-Series sedan, you'd be hard pressed to tell that by looking at its shapely exterior. Well-balanced proportions and graceful surface detailing give the coupe an understated yet subtly muscular look that will likely still look fresh 20 years down the line.
Simplicity of design and opulence of material quality are the defining characteristics of the interior. A minimalistic instrument panel serves up all of the vital information the driver needs - nothing more, nothing less - while BMW's iDrive infotainment system keeps the number of secondary controls down to a manageable level.
This straightforwardness contributes greatly to ease of use and also focuses attention on the supple leather upholstery, delicate French stitching and impressive wood or aluminum trim that adorn the cabin. Space is abundant for front-seat occupants, but a paucity of legroom and headroom mean the rear seats are best left to children.
Entertainment, navigation and Bluetooth functions are displayed on a 10.2-inch high-definition display and controlled by iDrive, which was much-maligned when first introduced but has since evolved into one of the more user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. iDrive also provides access to ConnectedDrive, which enables passengers to get directions with real-time traffic information, surf the internet on the go, utilize concierge services and more.
A variety of high-tech driver and safety systems are optional: Surround View parking camera system, Parking Assistant, BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, a Lane Departure Warning System and Active Blind Spot Detection along with the BMW Head-Up-Display. The latest incarnation of this system projects vital information onto the windshield in full color. For audiophiles, the Bang & Olufsen High-End Surround Sound System provides what BMW describes as "a feast of aural pleasure seldom experienced inside a car."
Let's Talk Performance
The 6-Series is offered as the six-cylinder 640i or the eight-cylinder 650i.
The 640i features BMW's smooth single-turbo "N55″ 3.0-liter inline-six, which makes 315 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. Though slightly slower than the 650i, the 640i's smaller engines equates to a lighter overall weight and slightly more nimble handling as well as an impressive fuel economy: the EPA rates the car at 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
The 650i packs BMW's twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 under the hood, which was upgraded for the latest model year with BMW's Valvetronic variable valve timing and lift system. This change helps the mill to crank out 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque (upgrades of 45 ponies and 30 lb-ft). Zero-to-60 mph can be achieved in under five seconds, though fuel economy drops to 15/23 mpg.
Both models shift through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Available exclusively on the 650i is BMW's "xDrive" all-wheel-drive system, which adds a couple hundred pounds of agility-sapping weight but allows the big coupe to motor its way through all but the worst inclement weather.
Although the 6-Series is a large and heavy coupe, careful chassis tuning means that it drives like a much smaller, lighter vehicle. An optional Adaptive Drive system ratchets up the sportyness factor by using electronically adjustable dampers and stabilizers to minimize body roll. Also optional is Integral Active Steering, which adds rear-wheel steering to the mix in order to increase low-speed agility and high-speed stability.
Standard and Optional Features
The 6-Series comes standard with leather upholstery, a navigation system with a 10.2-inch display, voice command functionality and 20 GB of storage space, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, dynamic cruise control, a rear-view camera, a nine-speaker, 205-watt AM/FM/CD stereo system with HD radio and a USB input, a sunroof, a proximity key, xenon headlights, LED foglights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Highlights from the lengthy options list include the M Sport Package, which includes an aggressive body kit, shadowline exterior trim, an M steering wheel, alcantara headliner and 19-inch alloy wheels; the Executive Package, which brings ventilated multi-contour front seats, a head-up display, a premium sound system and concierge services; and the Lighting Package, which adds full LED lights and automatic high beams.
A newly available M Sport Edition package builds on the normal M Sport package by adding extra features at no extra cost. It decks out the interior with a Nappa leather dashboard and a head-up display. Opt for the 650i and BMW will throw in a handful of extra safety and driver assistance systems, including Active Driving Assistance, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, Side and Top View Cameras and Speed Limit Info.
Outside, M Sport Edition models receive adaptive LED headlights and an available Sakhir Orange metallic paintwork, which was previously available only on hard-core M models like the M6 and M5.
All 6-Series coupe models are fitted with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, electronic brakeforce distribution and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Competition for the 6-Series ranges the gamut from larger luxury coupes like the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class and sportier machines like the Porsche 911 Carrera to the Jaguar XK, which splits the difference between the extremes.