Six of the best
The newBMW 6 Series Convertible isn’t going to change the world, but it does make it a much nicer place to be
THIS week it seems everything has royal connotations with BMWanointing the 6 Series Convertible the ‘‘ jewel in our crown’’. The secondgeneration 6 Series Convertible is more powerful, more economical, more luxurious and safer than before.
There are two models: the 640Ci, powered by a bi-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, and the 650Ci which packs a bi-turbo V8. A turbodiesel 640d model is available overseas. A high-performance V10-powered M6 was available in the first generation. The new M6, ifBMWgives it the green light, won’t appear before 2013.
The 6 Series is 74mm longer and 39mm wider than the previous one, which does give more legroom in the rear seats, but it’s far from capacious. Rear headroom is in short supply with the roof up.
The 6 Series is 80kg heavier despite having a plastic bootlid and front quarter panels.
BMWis claiming the value-formoney high ground, trumpeting that the new addition, the 640Ci , is the only luxury 2+2 under $200,000, but that’s still costly. Its only direct rival is the Mercedes-Benz SL350 ($217,800). The 650Ci is packing a 300kW twinturbocharged V8 that puts it up against a broader range of powerful rivals. The Jaguar XK may only have 283kW but its $224,114 price is well under the BMW’s. Mercedes-Benz’s V8-powered SL500 has 285kW and costs a whopping $327,000 — and it’s only a two-seater. The Maserati Gran Cabrio, arguably the sexiest soft-top going around, is a 2+2 like the BMWand has more power (323kW)— but charges $338,800 for a ticket to drive.
BMWhas replaced the 650Ci’s 4.8-litre V8 with a new 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the 5 Series sedan. It brings 300kW (up 30kW) and an eight-speed automatic transmission, propelling the rear-drive 650Ci from rest to 100km/h in 5.0 seconds flat— 0.8 seconds faster. Despite this step up in performance, the 650Ci’s fuel economy is two percent better than the outgoing model at, 10.7 litres/100km.
The 640Ci employs a biturbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 235kW, also mated toBMW’s smooth eightspeeder. It’s no slouch, either; its 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds is faster than the old V8. But a low fuel-economy rating of 7.9L/100km is possible thanks to the auto stop/start system, and makes this (almost) guilt-free performance. Both models come with full-colour Head-up Display as standard.
This incorporates satnav instructions, lane-departure and night-vision warnings where fitted. There’s also bluetooth audio streaming, parking sensors, radar cruise control, leather upholstery (what else would you expect at the price) and 19-inch alloy wheels. But the auto parking system, lane-departure warning and Night Vision are optional.
Sun and wind: BMW’snew 650Ci is the consummate Grand Tourer