| First Drive | Gibraltar | BMW 640i Convertible |
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: Two-door convertible
Rivals: Jaguar XK Convertible, Mercedes-Benz SL 350
CO2 emissions: 185g/km
Combined economy: 35.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
In the Metal:
In all respects the BMW 6 Series follows the path trodden first by the Seven, then the Five, in dampening flame surfaced excess with creases "inspired by water," fittingly. The shark fin roof is carried over, but this is an otherwise conservatively stylish drop top.
It really is a quality thing inside, with the eye drawn away from 5 Series sourced switchgear with a lovely, sweeping dash section (optionally in leather) separating driver and passenger. There's still no rear legroom to speak of, but lots of headroom for four, and a decent 300-350-litre boot.
In many respects the BMW 6 Series has become exactly the sort of car that anyone plotting the company's recent dynamic and stylistic shift could have expected. BMW has never had a problem with driver ergonomics, but the lumpy ride of the last 6 Series was the result of BMW seemingly not knowing quite where to pitch it.
That's changed. This is a supple, quiet and comfy convertible - roof up or down - whose only real concession is a bit of wind noise above town speeds. Is it a sports car? Probably not, but it still possesses steering weight, chassis balance, engine noise and a turn of speed that conspire to make pitching it into corners marvellous.
The 640i's straight-six turbo engine is a peach, making up what it lacks at the very bottom end with a fizzy willingness to rev and thumping top-end poke. Steering, throttle and gearing of the adjustable type are standard - the eight-speed auto's computer brain always seems in sync with yours - and there's a damping control option.
But whatever mode it's in, the car is able to take the worst of most roads and calm them down, while remaining level and true when it comes to turning the wheel. We've not tried the standard springs setup, but don't foresee a cock-up.
What you get for your Money:
The 640i is cheaper than a Mercedes-Benz SL 350 or Jaguar XK Convertible, but at £65,680 to start with, it still isn't cheap. The options list includes such gems as a £1,290 set of 19-inch alloys, £3,400 Adaptive Drive (for the suspension), £1,000 worth of leather dashboard and a £980 head-up display.
Economy is, given the performance, remarkable. Hitting 155mph with this sort of thump but knowing you're puffing out just 185g/km CO2
on average feels good. The stop-start system, standard on the 640i, doesn't take an hour to warm up and works unobtrusively, without shudder in the drivetrain.
It's an unusual move on the part of BMW to release the least popular versions of the 6 Series first: petrol and convertible historically lose out to diesel and coupé. The 6 Series Gran Coupé, due before the end of the year and appealing for its back doors and added rear space, will also take a big chunk of sales from the two-door versions. And, hopes BMW, the Porsche Panamera.
BMW hasn't changed tack for this 6 Series; it's just accomplished its goals more assuredly. Like the 5 Series, it's more comfortable than its predecessor, but it retains the sort of driving feel and balance that makes it a genuinely dual natured car. Easy to recommend.