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2005 BMW 630i review. Image by James Jenkins.

2005 BMW 630i review
BMW has had a talented GT in the range for decades now, the original 6-series was followed by the slightly disappointing 8-series; a car that was a decent GT but was also too bloated to offer a sporting driving experience. The latest grand tourer from Munich is this car, the new 6-series.

 



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BMW has had a talented GT in the range for decades now, the original 6-series was followed by the slightly disappointing 8-series; a car that was a decent GT but was also too bloated to offer a sporting driving experience. The latest grand tourer from Munich is this car, the new 6-series.

The previous generation 6-series has become a sought after classic, in demand by aficionados and fans of an era when BMWs were built like tanks, but offered a blend of performance and fun found in few other places. Today's market boasts an altogether more talented array of cars, effectively levelling a much more uneven playing field. Can this new 6-series appeal in the same way as the car so deeply loved 25 years ago?

Looks wise this car is probably the most opinion dividing Bangle design in production. It bears many of the details of the 1970s 6-series, particularly in the nose treatment. The flared arches and long bonnet look great, as do the sculpted flanks; I just don't quite get what is going on with the boot. It looks like a last minute addition, or certainly an unplanned change to an earlier design. I like the car in as much as it offers so much to drink in from every angle; it also has lots of presence, but it isn't a classic beauty like a GT should be, not from every angle at least.

Under that long bonnet beats a heart in the form of BMW's latest high tech six-cylinder power plant. The same as found in the 330i, and soon to follow in the 130i, this new engine is a marvel. Not just powerful, at 258bhp, but smooth and punchy anywhere in the rev range. The real headline for me though was the economy: 30 mpg over 1200miles in a weekend in a car that weighs 1600kg is amazing, and the trip computer wasn't lying; I verified this feat (and it was an achievement) at the pumps several times. One shouldn't overlook the noise either; a glorious cacophony emits from large diameter twin tail pipes. It's an aural treat.

In the real world this new high tech 3-litre in-line six offers as much pace as most people would ever need. The double VANOS system ensures a generous spread of torque whilst giving some scintillating top end thrust. The decent sprinting ability is reflected in the 6.5 second 0-60mph time and the top end sparkle borne out in the ease with which the BMW feels it could achieve its 155mph limited top speed (tellingly, the speed limiter device allows a maximum of 161mph to be dialled in; there must be a reason for this).

One taps into this performance via a slick shifting six-speed manual. An auto' is a cost option, and whilst some may prefer to specify the auto', I found the manual a much more satisfying and involving method, even around town. The manual allows one to pick the song that the engine sings as well as allowing one more pleasure in the driving experience.

This was probably the most surprising aspect of the 630i. I expected a good GT and a good cruiser, and it delivered in spades. What I hadn't expected was a handling fluency and a degree of body control and cross-country pace normally associated with M-power cars. I was lucky in my time with the car in that I got to blast across some moorland in Scotland and Yorkshire. Wide-open roads are a happy playground in the big BMW; riding crests and soaking up bumps on all surfaces whilst allowing ego-boosting power slides out of the tighter stuff.

The steering is feelsome but perhaps a little light, even with the electronic sport mode selected, but this aspect only looks weak because the rest of the package is so good. A great driving position, thanks to the hugely adjustable and comfortable optional sports seats, is only marred by my preference for a relatively low position for the steering wheel that lead to the upper part of the speedo being obscured by the wheel. A little nod was necessary to establish speed at times.

A bigger nod of respect is due to the interior; our test car was fitted with several options but still impressed. The stereo is of the quality one would expect for a long haul, as are the seats and the dual zone climate control is quiet, efficient and very controllable. As befits its intended purpose the interior cossets and insulates one from the outside world. It is a very pleasant space in which to relax, recline and gobble up hours and miles in large quantities.

The interior also features the ever-controversial I-drive, albeit in its latest form with a couple of shortcut keys and some simplification, particularly in the audio controls. I think the big saving grace for I-drive sufferers is the voice-activated control. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the shortcut menu options and it eliminates most of the knob twiddling associated with most I-drive functions. The satnav is best set-up at rest but is the most thorough and informative DVD full of info I've yet seen.

All in all the 630i is a stunning GT. Endowed with all the performance most of its intended purchasers could ever need it offers a genuinely rapid and comfortable way to cross-continents. It does exactly what a great GT car should, the fact it is so good to drive and offers an entertaining and engaging experience makes it a very tough car to match, never mind beat. Out and out performance junkies can seek their thrills in the even more potent 645Ci, but for the most part the 630i renders the bigger car superfluous. For more hardcore driver's BMW offer the stunning M3 for around the same price, but for a more relaxed and traditional GT the 630i has to be added to one's shopping list. It is one of the most complete cars I've driven for some time.

Dave Jenkins - 12 Apr 2005









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2005 BMW 6 Series specifications: (630i Coupe and Convertible)
Price: 45,255 on-the-road (test car was fitted with extras: sports seats - 610, satnav - 1,850, CD changer - 280, floor mats - 105, Dynamic Drive - 2,935).
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Combined economy: 31.4mpg
Emissions: 216g/km
Kerb weight: 1565kg

Full technical specifications

2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.

2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.



2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2005 BMW 630i. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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