It is going to be a great summer! How do I know? Well, BMW has brought out the convertible version of the newest 6 Series ahead of the coupe which is not due until the autumn of 2011.
Normally, the hard top version comes out before the soft top. Apart from possible weather predictions, it makes sense for BMW to create the convertible first. That way it is more thoroughly planned in its own right and is not just an afterthought.
You get the feeling that this is much more a car in its own right rather than a chopped down coupe. It seems stiffer and more rattle free that the cabrios of the past.
An awesome machine, the 6 Series convertible is now available with two very powerful petrol engines – either a turbo straight six or a macho twin-turbo V8. A more ‘sensible’ 635 diesel will follow and is likely to be the best seller by far if the previous model is anything to go by.
The new car is slightly longer and wider than before. The styling seems more clean cut. Out of sight, there is a new chassis that copes well with those mighty engines yet helps give the car a very smooth ride for its class. A great compromise between power and comfort.
BMW’s model numbers no longer give a clue to the engine size. The 640i comes with the 3.0-litre turbo-charged unit that puts out 320bhp. I could happily live with this silky smooth engine which can move this big car with surprising rapidity. It punches out the power from low revs right across the range.
Acceleration to 62mph in 5.7 seconds should be enough for most people and the top speed is limited to 155. Thanks to the Efficient Dynamics package that includes stop-start there is the potential to return up to 35mpg with emissions of 185g/km. This is quite respectable for the car’s output.
The 650i flagship has an even mightier 407bhp available from its deep-throated V8 engine. Surprisingly, this shaves the acceleration time down only slightly to 5 seconds. It makes a fabulous sound at all times but does not feel a lot faster, perhaps because it is heavier.
The Combined Cycle figure of 26mpg, if you resist the urge to use the power, is better than either a Jaguar XK or a Mercedes SL500. Relatively speaking, the BMW is more efficient than its rivals.
Both cars come with a slick eight-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox which does lightning changes either via the steering wheel paddles or totally automatically.
Inside, the car is also more stylish with a curved instrument binnacle and the familiar iDrive knob and angled gear selector. There is a big 10-inch screen to display the satellite navigation maps and other information. A head-up display projecting speed and navigational advice on the screen is available as an extra.
The touch of a button lowers the roof in around 25 seconds. Driven topless the 6 Series Convertible is very snug thanks to an optional wind deflector and a rear glass ‘window’. You can enjoy those brief snaps of sunshine without ruffling your hair very much.
The seats are fabulous and electrically controlled and heated. Even the leather upholstery is special in that it is treated to reflect sunlight. There are front and rear parking cameras and beepers. Inside feels very spacious and even with the hood down there is still a decent amount of boot space.
Prices start from £61K for the 640i and £69K for the 650i and there is the usual long list of options with which to customise your car. But then these are top dollar convertibles in terms of performance, comfort, quality and technology.