The BMW 6 Series might be seen as a luxury car, but it feels like a grand touring machine, in particular the four-door Gran Coupe model with its 4.5-inch extended wheelbase. But there’s also an everyday two-door coupe, a convertible, and a high-performance M6 version. They all have evocative styling, athletic and elegant, with a long hood, muscular flanks, and a sensuous roofline.
The 2016 BMW 6 Series gets a facelift, touched up with one less vertical bar in the grille (now nine), along with tweaks to the lower air intake and foglamps. Adaptive LED headlamps have a new take on the classic double round design, with turn-signal indicators now moving along over the beams. In the cabin there’s more LED ambient lighting, along with new wood and glossy black trim.
The BMW 640i coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe come with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 making 315 horsepower. The BMW 650i versions use a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 making 445 horsepower. We love the classic inline-6, but found the V8 to be better suited to the 6 Series pace and attitude.
They all use a BMW-made 8-speed automatic transmission, with a 6-speed manual available for the BMW 650i with rear-wheel-drive. All-wheel drive (xDrive) is available for both BMW 640i and BMW 650i.
The powerful M6 uses its 560 horsepower to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a brief 4.1 seconds. It takes two transmissions, the 6-speed manual or 7-speed twin clutch. Its road performance inspires awe, given all its electronic stability, traction and dynamic controls affecting steering, suspension and power. However on the track, it’s limited by its size and weight, topping two tons. The smaller M5 sedan is faster.
Fuel mileage takes a hit because of the weight, 4200 pounds for the coupe and 4500 for the Gran Coupe. The BMW 640i with its smaller engine gets an EPA-rated 20/31/24 mpg City/Highway/Combined with rear-wheel drive, while the BMW 650i with its V8 gets 17/25/20 mpg. Both get about 1 mpg less with all-wheel drive.
The BMW 640i uses an exhaust system that enhances the beautiful sound the straight six engine makes. Use the Driving Experience Control switch (really, that’s the name), to tune the volume of the engine note that comes into the cabin (treble and bass are not yet programmed). Twenty years ago, appreciating the scream of the M3, who would have guessed it could come to this.
The 2016 BMW 6 Series encompasses a dozen models, from the rear-wheel-drive 640i coupe ($77,300) to the xDrive 650i convertible ($99,200). There are also M6 and Alpina models.
The M Sport Edition gives the look of the M, with 19-inch wheels, black brake calipers, and M aero touches. Inside there’s an M steering wheel, dark trim and leather dash. A new Black Accent package features black Nappa leather, a glossy black grille, black tailpipe tips, and 20-inch two-tone alloy wheels.
Stand-alone options include a Harman Kardon sound system, and a host of things from night vision to help with parking. A Driver Assistance Plus package includes lane departure, forward collision and pedestrian warnings, city collision mitigation, blind-spot monitor, and multiple camera views.
The kidney grille shoots tight creases out its top, up and along the hood. Aggressive headlamps speak to big air intakes. Flared fenders and eye-catching curves make it seem like the windows are low, but it’s an illusion. The aerodynamic sideview mirrors have light strips. The alloy wheels are as big as they look.
Styling on the M6 is even more aggressive, with a carbon-fiber roof.
The 6 Series cabin is stark and business-like, with a muted palette, while still being rich and well-appointed, exotic, nearly as plush as the 7 Series. The controls display order and restraint, intriguingly low-key and high-tech. It’s a new look for 2016, with glossy black trim and chrome. Premium plastics. Imagine the tactile sensation of the optional white leather and fine woods.
It’s a snug fit inside, even with the longer four-door Gran Coupe. There’s room in the rear, but adults will have to duck to get in and out, because of the gorgeous arching roofline. It’s worth it, let your passengers duck, they’re lucky to be riding in such a car. BMW calls it a 4+1, meaning room for four adults and maybe sometimes almost a fifth, in the center rear position. Well. We’ll say this: darn sight more room than a Porsche 911.
The front seats have good space, great back and thigh support, and headroom for all. In the M models, the sport seats are lighter and have yet more back and thigh support.
The convertible uses a folding fabric roof, it don’t need no stinkin’ hardtop, it’s about space and speed. And the rear window opens. A real ragtop.
The 6 Series is quite happy to sail along at triple-digit speeds, like it can do in Germany where it comes from. It’s smooth and confident, easy to steer. But the handling isn’t razor sharp, as it’s tuned for comfort, not the track or even the twisties.
Of course the driver can tune it him or herself, with Driving Dynamics Control knob with Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings that set the suspension, steering, throttle and transmission responses.
The twin-turbo V8 in M6 versions makes 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to either a 7-speed twin-clutch (BMW calls it M-DCT), or 6-speed gearbox (rev-matched downshifting available). If the 6 Series is comfortable at 100 mph, the M6 is comfortable at 150. And electronically limited at 155.
The M6 has beefier suspension and tires, plus launch control and specific traction and stability control to maintain grip. Even with its size, the M6 is capable of out-cornering and out-braking many sports cars, although not the smaller BMW M cars.
There aren’t many things in this world more elegant than a BMW 6 Series convertible, in white. And then you put your foot down and add power to the elegance, from either the classic inline-6 or a throaty V8. If it’s flat-out performance you want, consider the M5 over the M6.
Sam Moses contributed to this report, with staff reports by The Car Connection.