The BMW 6 Series is a luxury car with an arching roofline that comes as a coupe, convertible, or fastback sedan called the Gran Coupe, which has longer wheelbase for more rear passenger room.
The 6 Series is a cruiser, not a high-performance car (not counting the much more expensive M6 with 560 horsepower). The 6 Series got a minor facelift for 2016, so there are no significant changes for 2017, mostly just new glossy black interior trim, with chrome around the iDrive display.
The standard engine in the cruiser BMW 6 Series is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 making 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, enabling it to accelerate from zero to sixty in a quick 5.3 seconds; that’s the BMW 640i. Next engine is a V8 making 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, enabling the BMW 650i to accelerate from zero to sixty in 4.3 seconds; that one-second difference is huge in the seat of your pants.
Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available, which BMW calls xDrive.
The six-cylinder gets 21/30 miles per gallon City/Highway, 24 mpg Combined. The 6 Series hasn’t been crash-tested by the government or insurance industry. Being a high-end German car, there’s a ton of available safety equipment, including forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking at city speeds; blind-spot monitors; a surround-view camera system; and lane departure warnings. Night vision cameras with pedestrian detection and active steering assistants are also available.
The 2017 BMW 640i Coupe ($77,600) comes with leather seats, dark wood trim, 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlamps, 10-way power adjustable front seats, keyless ignition, WiFi hotspot capability, rearview camera, and iDrive, an infotainment interface with 10.2-inch touchscreen.
The 640i Convertible ($85,100) and longer-wheelbase BMW 640i Gran Coupe ($79,800) are similarly equipped. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination.)
Options include the M Sport package that adds 19-inch wheels and high performance tires, black brake calipers, LED fog lamps, and Alcantara headliner.
The 6 Series is understated yet evocative. The lines at its forward edge are finely rendered, as they feed into the arching roofline: confident, low slung and wide shouldered. The stance is athletic. The curves are elegant in profile. The hoodline is taut, flanks muscular, and rear end sleek, simple, and modestly tucked. The new-for-2016 nose creases tightly into the nine-slat kidney grille, flanked by bold headlamps and big air intakes.
Its curves and flared fenders lower the window line, at least to the eye. The big 18-inch alloy wheels fill the wheelwells, becoming design details on the coupe and Gran Coupe.
There’s a business-like starkness to the cabin, with muted shades that look rich. It borders on the exotic, with an array of materials, textures and colors. It’s well appointed, but ruled by order and restraint, both low-key and high-tech. The plastics and leather present a premium visual and tactile sensation, even before you bring out the best materials like white leather or fine woods.
If you want your cabin bright, there are trim packages that can make it nearly as plush as a 7 Series.
The Gran Coupe might have a wheelbase that’s 4.5 inches longer, but, like the two-door coupe, it’s more suited for two people. There’s room to stretch up front, but, in the coupe, the rear seat isn’t much more functional than with a Porsche 911. In the Gran Coupe there’s more rear legroom, although if you carry rear passengers often, you need to go with the 5 Series or 7 Series. And headroom is low because of the sloping sensuous roofline. Taller passengers will have to duck to climb in and out.
The powered front buckets adjust in a myriad of ways, so comfort is easy to find. The M Sport package offers multi-function sport seats with more support in the backrest and thighs.
The convertible’s folding fabric top stows tightly and raises and lowers quickly, in 20 seconds at 25 mph. The glass rear window can even be opened, like in the old convertible days.
The 6 Series is quick and sporty. The BMW 640i turbo six-cylinder performs competently in its class. Its 8-speed automatic transmission gets the most from its 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The engine gets most of its torque down low, at about 1700 rpm, and overcomes any doubt that the 3.0-liter engine might be breathless under acceleration. Actually, if it feels breathless, it’s at the top end.
The BMW 650i is quicker and sportier. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8’s 445 horsepower is impressive, but it’s the 480 pound-feet of torque that makes us swoon. You might say that the 650i has a confident gas pedal. The turbochargers are seamless from 2000 rpm all the way up to 7000 rpm redline. The 650i’s linear power and symphonic bellow make winding roads enjoyable.
The 650i already weighs 264 pounds more than the 640i, so adding another 100 pounds for all-wheel drive might not be the best thing. We’re inclined to suggest that if you need all-wheel drive, go for the 640i, because it’s lighter and should be more nimble.
By most measurements now, the 6-Series is the Bavarian grand tourer, not a razor sharp sports car, or brawny muscle machine, and having plenty of passing power is part of the program.
The 6 Series handles with confidence, with steering sharp as a knife but not sharp as a razor. The ride is so smooth that it begs for effortless high speeds. The suspension is tuned for comfort, not track days. However with Driving Dynamics Control there are Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes to set suspension, steering, throttle and transmission response. The range of adjustments is almost astonishing, changing the 6 Series from cruiser to canyon carver.
The BMW 6 Series offers three personalities: coupe, convertible, or sedan. Two engines make it silky or beefy. All are most comfortable for two people.
Sam Moses filed this report to New Car Test Drive, with driving impressions by The Car Connection staff.