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First Drive: BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.

First Drive: BMW 6 Series Convertible
Unusually BMW introduces its all-new 6 Series with the Convertible model.

   



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| First Drive | Cape Town, South Africa | BMW 6 Series Convertible |

Stylish new Convertible debuts new BMW 6 Series range, with a coupé following later this summer and a 'four-door coupé' due in 2012.

In the Metal

It's clearly related to the outgoing BMW 6 Series, but the new car's styling is more coherent and balanced. There's less fussiness to the lines, the 6's shape flowing more elegantly. The rear in particular looks more graceful, with the boot line and rear wings better balanced and the rear lights adding to the lower, wider stance.

The front grille and lights are more purposeful, too. With its indicators slightly recessed there's a visual nod to the shark-nose look of the early BMW 6 Series models. Along its flanks again it remains visually identifiable as a relation to the old car, but the overall effect is smarter and more attractive. It's inside though where the new 6 Series Convertible feels most different. The driver is positioned within a more driver-focused cockpit. It's beautifully finished and more user-friendly, though the iDrive system still has the ability to confuse until you get familiar with its many functions and menus.

What you get for your Money

Spend £73,430 and you'll get into this 650i version with a twin-turbo V8 engine producing 407bhp and 442lb.ft of torque. That's enough to get the 6 Series to 62mph in just five seconds - impressive given it tips the scales at a touch under two tonnes. There's plenty of equipment as standard, with alloy wheels, leather upholstery, xenon headlamps, electric seats, dual-zone climate control and park distance control and others. Naturally there's an opportunity to add to that, with BMW offering active steering, Adaptive Drive, a head-up display, a lane departure warning system and side view cameras on its extensive options list.

Driving it

The BMW 6 Series has always occupied an interesting middle-ground between more overtly sporting open-topped cars like Porsche's 911 Cabriolet and four-seat drop-tops like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet. With the new car there's more of the same, though, with a body that's 50 percent stiffer than before, it feels more capable in the bends. The optional Adaptive Drive system that controls the various suspension and drive control elements is a must, as it allows the 6 Series to carry its easily gained pace with surprising agility and composure.

Even so, there's little feel through the steering; indeed, the only sensation initially on the test cars is the buzzing of the lane departure warning system as the wide 6 crosses lines entering and exiting bends. Much fiddling with iDrive finds no solution, as the off switch for the vibrating wheel is actually positioned out of view under the dashboard to the right of the driver. Switching it off does little to increase feel from the wheel though, which is rather muted in its communication and inconsistent with its weighting. The test cars were also fitted with the optional Integral Active Steering - we'd like to feel how the 6 steers without it...

The overall sensation behind the wheel is of slight detachment from the driving experience. That's disappointing, as the chassis exhibits some finesse, with the suspension having a solid platform to work from. There's some shimmy from the open-topped shell, but it's only apparent on particularly testing stretches of tarmac. With eight gears to choose from start plucking the finger paddles on the automatic transmission and you'll be busy. Best then to leave the automatic to shift gears itself, with the V8's wide spread of torque allowing easy, rapid progress. There are some aural treats to be had with the roof down, but they're only really front-of-house when you're in a tunnel, as when the speed rises the rushing of the air over the open top overcomes the V8's soundtrack.

Worth Noting

That roof can be opened at speeds up to 25mph in 19 seconds, while it takes 24 seconds to lower. Drop the roof and you lose 50 litres of boot space, though the 6 offers a multiple golf bag swallowing 350 litres of room in the boot with the roof up. There's more space in the rear too, with the 6's back seats far more accommodating than those in rivals like Porsche's 911 or Jaguar's XK. As with all BMWs the 6 benefits from the firm's EfficientDynamics technology, but even so it's difficult to justify 26.4mpg and 249g/km in the 650i when its 640i relative returns 35.8mpg and 185g/km - it only losing 0.7 seconds in the 0-62mph sprint to record 5.7 seconds.

Summary

In top 650i specification the new BMW 6 Series Convertible demonstrates the new 6's attributes convincingly enough, but we reckon the sweeter driving cars will feature the smaller, lighter engines. Heavily specified here with optional driver systems like Active Steering and Adaptive Drive, the 6 lacks the intimate driving feel of many rivals, though remains remarkably effective at covering ground quickly. A brilliant cruiser and able performer on more challenging roads, there are more enjoyable cars to drive out there, but it's difficult to argue against the BMW 650i's crushing all-round ability.

Kyle Fortune - 26 Jan 2011



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2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible specifications:
Price: £73,430
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Combined economy: 26.4mpg
Emissions: 249g/km
Kerb weight: 1940kg

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by Max Earey.



2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 

2011 BMW 6 Series Convertible. Image by BMW.
 






 

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