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

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - GLENN BUT­LER glenn.but­ler@cars­guide.com.au

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.

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

BMW 650Ci

Sun and wind: BMW’snew 650Ci is the con­sum­mate Grand Tourer

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