BMW 6-Series (F12)


Debut: 2011
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: 6-Series E63



 Published on 29 Jan 2011 All rights reserved. 

The new generation BMW 6-series is not difficult to write about. Basically, it follows strictly the formula of its predecessor, no matter in market positioning, styling, mechanical design or driving character. There are plenty of small evolutions and improvements, of course, and the end result is a more satisfying car to drive and to own. However, it just won't surprise you as do every generation of Mercedes SL or Jaguar XK. That also makes it quite boring to write about.

As always – actually since the first generation E24 of 1976 – the 6-series is more or less the coupe version of 5-series. It is based on the platform, suspensions, powertrains, running gears and electronic systems of the mass production sedan. That's not a bad thing, considering the current 5-series is one of the most sophisticated executive cars on the market. Goodies such as twin-turbo V8, ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, active rear-wheel steering, adaptive dampers, active anti-roll bars and Dynamic Drive control system are all available to the coupe. Taking into account a slightly more compact and lower-built body, you can expect sportier handling and slightly higher performance than the equivalent 5-series.


The exterior of the new car was designed by Nader Faghihzadeh under the guidance and strong influence of Adrian van Hooydonk. Most people think it looks prettier than the old car, but I would say it does not make a huge difference. If it looks more sophisticated, that is because of the advancement in assembly tolerance and technology to shape metal or plastic panels to the desired effect. Some may applause that the "Bangle butt" of the old car has given place to a more civilized tail, while some might disappoint for its lack of drama.

Like that of the 5-series, the chassis is constructed in steel, but covered with plenty of lightweight panels – the nose and front fenders are thermoplastic, while the bonnet, windscreen pillar and doors are made of aluminum. However, they appear to help little to cut weight. The 6-series weighs some 1940 kg in the form of 650i Cabriolet. We do not mention the coupe here because it is yet to be released – unusually, BMW launch the cabriolet first. Anyway, you can expect the coupe to be just 100 kg or so lighter.


Part of the immense weight can be credited to a stronger chassis. Compare with the old 6-series cabriolet, the new car has its torsional rigidity increased by 50 percent. On the road, you can easily feel the difference. Scuttle shake and flex have disappeared. Ditto squeaks and rattles. Big bumps can no longer unsettle its steering. Overall refinement is excellent for a cabriolet.

Attack corners, the new 6er has a reassuring feel unfound in its predecessor. Its countless of technologies keep it precise and controlled. Ride is Germanic firm without harsh thanks to adaptive damping. Cornering is flat due to the active anti-roll bars. The electromechanical power steering is accurate, responsive and well-weighted. 4-wheel steering makes the 6-series more agile than its weight suggests.

The powertrain is even more satisfying. The ZF transmission is silky smooth yet reacts quickly to your commands. The twin-turbo 4.4-liter direct-injection V8 on 650i is smooth, cultured yet powerful and responsive once you determine to unleash its deep reserves. It does 0-60 mph easily in 4.8 seconds. Other engines, including the 3.0 twin-turbo straight-six of 640i and 3.0 twin-turbo diesel of 640d are barely slower. BMW engines never disappoint.


The interior continues the luxury theme of recent big BMWs. Materials are high quality, but the design is on the conservative side. Even though the center console now angles towards the driver (like the first generation 6-series), it is not especially inspiring to look. BMW had better to learn from Jaguar how to merge high-tech and bespoke luxury theme together.

Thanks to a much longer wheelbase and extra width, the cabin is roomier than before, especially for occupants up front. Rear passengers also get more shoulder room, but legroom is still tight for adults. This limits its usage to short journeys.

The Cabriolet has a 3-layer soft top that can be opened and closed in 20 and 25 seconds respectively. Behind it is a vertical glass rear window which raises automatically from the rear bulkhead. Insulation and wind management of the roof system is generally good, as you would expect on a German luxury car.


Until now, the new 6-series appears to be an all-rounder. It is fast, refined and high-quality. Competent in the twisty, too. However, what it lacks is soul. For all its punch and creamy smoothness, the twin-turbo V8 revs and sings nowhere as thrilling as the Ferrari V8 on Maserati GranTurismo / GranCabrio. Its steering, like many electrical steering systems, never feels really natural. Although clever electronics keep its handling tidy in whatever conditions, it does not feel as sharp and agile as Maserati or Jaguar XKR, which are either lighter or inherently better balanced. And on the BMW you need to choose among the four Dynamic Drive modes (comfort, normal, sport or sport+) to suit the particular surfaces or your driving mood, rather than a one-for-all versatile setup. Standing beside those thoroughbred sports machines, it looks and drives too much like a spiced-up 5-series, which it actually is.
Verdict: 
 Published on 4 Jun 2012 All rights reserved. 
6-Series Gran Coupe

Mercedes CLS pioneered the new wave of 4-door coupes in 2004. Ridiculously, its arch-rival at Munich took some 8 years to realize the potential of this new type of cars and produce its own version, by then the CLS has already entered the second generation. Anyway, the 6-Series Gran Coupe is a good effort. Despite of the lack of surprise or innovation, it is very well engineered – something undoubtedly benefited from its late arrival – and should be a strong contender in the class that now consists of CLS, Audi A7 and S7. Take a broader look, it may also steal sales from Jaguar XFR, Porsche Panamera, Aston Martin Rapide and Fisker Karma.

The car is derived straight from the 5-Series platform, just like the 2-door 6-Series Coupe and Cabriolet. To accommodate full-size passengers at its rear seats, it uses the 5-Series' 2968 mm wheelbase, which is 113 mm longer than that of its 2-door siblings. Overall length is stretched beyond 5 meters. In other words, this luxury coupe is just as huge as the last generation 7-Series! On the plus side, the longer stance gives the Gran Coupe a sleeker, more balanced proportion than the 6-Series Coupe. Otherwise, it is easily recognizable as a 6-series, sharing the same nose and tail. With fast angle C-pillars, broad shoulders and heavily tapered side windows, the car has high style and strong presence on the road. It is probably not as head-turning as the original CLS, but facing the flamboyant CLS Mk2 and the conservative A7 it has a good chance to steal the show.


Inside, the story is completely 6-series. The dashboard, driver-oriented console and wide transmission tunnel are taken straight from the Coupe and Cabriolet, as are the front seats which incorporate seatbelt mountings. The perceived quality is excellent, and sense of occasion is far beyond the level of 5-Series. The driver sits low and enjoys more headroom than in 6-Series Coupe. The rear seat envelops your body well and offer more space than imagined. It can truly accommodate a pair of adults, with sufficient headroom and knee room unless you are over 6ft. A third passenger is theoretically possible as the rear seat is a bench rather than individual buckets, but it is best to be avoided because the prominent transmission tunnel and center console rob all the legroom. Anyway, if you really want to seat 5, why do you want to buy a 4-door coupe?

The underpinnings need little introduction. Like the 5 and 6-series, it is served with classy mechanical layouts and many high-tech systems, namely, aluminum double-wishbone and multi-link suspensions, continuous adaptive damping, active anti-roll bars, 4-wheel steering, variable-ratio electric power steering, driver selectable control (from which you can choose Eco, Comfort, Comfort+, Sport or Sport+ mode) and countless of safety equipment. You can alter its handling and ride according to your driving mood or road conditions. Compare with the 5-Series, its firmer suspension setting and lower center of gravity lead to a sportier handling. However, what really surprises is that it is better balanced than the 6-Series Coupe, showing less initial understeer and more fluidity in the twisty. BMW said this is because its longer body shifts 1 percent more weight to the rear, resulting in even weight distribution. The longer wheelbase and different suspension tuning also give the Gran Coupe a more composed ride than its 2-door sibling. Only the excessive wind noise from its frameless windows prevents it to match the 5-Series for high-speed refinement.


Predictably, all engines come from its siblings and all are strong, responsive and refined. The 640i is powered by N55HP, i.e. high-power (320hp / 332 lbft) version of the single twin-scroll turbo 3-liter straight-six. It is not the same as the regular N55 on 535i or the N54 twin-turbo unit on 640i, but expect both will switch to the new engine soon, especially because its additional Valvetronic gives it better fuel economy. 640d comes with the 313 hp / 465 lbft sequential twin-turbo diesel straight-six. As we always know, it is the best of the bunch with all things considered. 650i is largely engineered for America. Accompanied with the introduction of Valvetronic, its output has been raised to 450 hp. All these engines mate with the superb ZF 8-speed automatic. The Gran Coupe weighs a little more than the 2-door Coupe but less than the Cabriolet, so performance is good, although not necessarily better than the equivalent CLS or A7.


The last entry into the segment is also the best. As far as 4-door coupes are concerned, the 6-Series Gran Coupe is a little bit more accomplished than its rivals CLS and A7. It has excellent powertrains, good handling and ride compromise, tasteful style and high perceived quality. It is not perfect though – the electric steering rack is not truly feelsome, and the broad shoulders make it difficult to place on narrow country roads. However, the biggest problem is a price premium of £10,000 above the equivalent CLS and A7, which puts it closer to the territory of Porsche Panamera. Is it worth the extra? I am not so sure.
Verdict:
 Published on 27 Jun 2012 All rights reserved. 
BMW M6


The M6 does not have a long history. Its roots could be traced to the 1983 M635CSi, but its concept was largely changed in the 2005 remake together with a new name. One thing did not change though: it is always the coupe version of M5. Built on the underpinnings of M5 and shares the same M-power motor, the M6 is marginally quicker and sharper to maneuver thanks to its lower and lighter coupe body. Yes, marginally. Take the latest M6, you will find it is only 20 kilograms lighter than the M5. Its center of gravity might be a bit lower thanks to the 60 mm lower roof which is made of carbon-fiber. However, as the running gears, steering and suspensions are all the same, its advantage over the super sedan is rather slim. The driving character is even closer.

So how does it feel on road? Well, with the new S63tu twin-turbo V8 and 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, it is very fast, of course. BMW promises a top speed of 190 mph and 0-60 mph of just over 4 seconds, and we have no reason to doubt those numbers. However, what dominates the driving experience is not the performance but the gigantic 501 lbft of torque available from a ridiculous 1500 rpm. That torque curve remains flat for the next 4250 rpm, believe or not. As a result, you don't need to wind the engine hard like the old V10. Acceleration comes instantly and effortlessly. Even if you drop a gear and wind it beyond 6000 rpm, you won't find much reward in terms of output and aural thrills. That kind of effortless performance is acceptable or even appreciable on the M5 sedan, but for a super coupe we would look for more raw thrills, thus it is a slight disappointment.



Likewise, the chassis is highly capable, offering excellent grip, poise and braking (with optional ceramic discs at least) and even a willingness to power slide, but at no point it really involves the driver. That 1850 kg dampens its response and hurts its sense of agility, putting it in the territory of Bentley Continental GT rather than Porsche 911. Despite of hydraulic assistance, the steering does not deliver a lot of feel – again, fine for a sedan but unacceptable on a sporting car like this. Figure in the slightly slow throttle response of the turbocharged V8 (especially following a drive in the old M6), the driving experience is not as exciting as an M-car should be.

The M6 also falls victim to its complication. Its countless of electronic aids are unnecessarily complicated. You can adjust its damping, steering, gearchange and active differential independently, each offers 3 settings to choose from. Unfortunately, none quite hit the sweet spot. Comfort mode is generally too soft. Sport is better but still not as sharp as keen drivers like. Sport+ offers excellent body control and lightning gearshifts and loosens the tail to enable power slide, but the downside is a hard ride and a jerky power delivery. It lacks the fluency and versatility of a simpler Jaguar XKR-S or Maserati MC Stradale.

After all, the M6 is not a sports car. Nor it is a true Grand Tourer – its rear seats are small and its ride quality is marginal to do cross-country trips. Its essence is the closest to the old 850CSi, being big, heavy, luxurious and powerful. While some may love its exterior design and high-quality interior, overall it is not as convincing to purchase as many rivals in the class. A Nissan GT-R is a lot cheaper yet faster and more fun to drive. A 911 Carrera S beats it easily in both driving thrills and day-to-day comfort. A Bentley Continental GT has a classy image that not the mass-production BMW coupe can match. Maserati Gran Turismo might be a lot slower, but it is more beautiful and works better as a GT. Finally, its four-door sibling M5 is nearly as quick and offers more practicality at considerably less money. All these reasons make its £94,000 entry price hard to justify.
Verdict:
 Published on 29 Apr 2013 All rights reserved. 
BMW M6 Gran Coupe


Being powerful, flexible and free-revving, BMW's 560 hp twin-turbo V8 is a gem. It was originally developed for M5 (and in slightly different form the X5M and X6M), but it didn't take long to expand to M6 Coupe and Cabriolet. Now the latest car to get its service is M6 Gran Coupe. You might question the need to build this car. Considering it weighs 5 kg more than the M5, and its slightly more slippery shape is rendered useless by the same 190 mph speed regulation, there is really no point to offer another 4-door super saloon. The M5 betters it in headroom and rear legroom. It also has a bigger trunk. Most important, the M6 Gran Coupe is priced 30 percent higher than the M5 at a psychological-challenging £100,000. Does it deserve so much?

On the road, there is no much difference actually. You might find the ride a bit more absorbent at the Comfort mode of adaptive suspension, but that change will be applied to the M5 soon. At Sport and Sport+ mode, it claims to be sportier than the M5, but you will be hard pressed to find out, because the M5 already controls its body motion very tightly. The M6 Gran Coupe's carbon-fiber roof panel seems really not necessary. If anything we want, it will be more agility on narrow mountain roads. Unfortunately, its 2-ton weight and massive dimensions deny our request. Another thing we would have liked to see is more feel from the hydraulic steering rack, which is again denied, sadly.



The performance it offers is undoubtedly remarkable for such a large car. 0-60 mph takes merely 4.1 seconds, and I suspect some American magazines may take that down to 3.8 seconds if they try hard. 0-100 mph could be done within 8.5. Not long ago that was the territory of 911 GT3 RS. The borderline between saloon and supercar is getting mushy these days.

However, back to our question, what makes it worth 30 percent more than M5? The answer lies on the exterior design, which is more special, and the completely different interior, which looks exclusive and better built. Even so, it is difficult to justify the price, especially when the equally fast and exclusive Mercedes CLS63 AMG doesn't cost so much. The AMG also engages its driver better with a communicative steering and exciting soundtrack, so it continues to be our top choice of luxury 4-door coupe. Munich has to raise its game.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features

Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
640i Cabriolet
2011
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum + plastic
4894 / 1894 / 1365 mm
2855 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
320 hp
332 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/45ZR18
1840 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.4 (c) / 4.9*
12.7*
650i Cabriolet
2011 (2015)
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum + plastic
4894 / 1894 / 1365 mm
2855 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
408 hp (450 hp)
442 lbft (479 lbft)
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/40ZR19
1940 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.8 (c) / 4.7* / 4.9** (4.4 (c))
11.0* / 11.4**
640d Coupe
2011
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum + plastic
4894 / 1894 / 1369 mm
2855 mm
Inline-6, diesel
2993 cc
DOHC 24 valves
Sequential twin-turbo
CDI
313 hp
465 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/45ZR18
1715 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.2 (c) / 5.3***
13.1***




Performance tested by: *C&D, **MT, ***Autocar





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features

Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
640i Coupe
2011
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum + plastic
4894 / 1894 / 1369 mm
2855 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
320 hp
332 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/45ZR18

1660 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.1 (c)
-
650i Coupe
2011 (2015)
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum + plastic
4894 / 1894 / 1369 mm
2855 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
408 hp (450 hp)
442 lbft (479 lbft)
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/40ZR19

1770 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.7 (c) / 4.5* (4.4 (c) / 4.1*)
10.4* (9.8*)
M6 Coupe
2012
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + Al + plastic + CF
4898 / 1899 / 1368 mm
2851 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT+VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
560 hp / 6000-7000 rpm
501 lbft / 1500-5750 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping

F: 265/40ZR19
R: 295/35ZR19
1850 kg
190 mph (limited)
4.1 (c) / 3.8**
8.6**




Performance tested by: *C&D, **C&D on M6 Cabriolet





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features

Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
640i Gran Coupe
2012
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5007 / 1894 / 1392 mm
2968 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
320 hp
332 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/45ZR18

1750 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.2 (c) / 5.6*
15.1*
650i Gran Coupe
2012
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5007 / 1894 / 1392 mm
2968 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
450 hp
479 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping,
active anti-roll bars
245/40ZR19

1865 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.4 (c)
-
M6 Gran Coupe
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + Al + CF
5011 / 1899 / 1393 mm
2964 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT+VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
560 hp / 6000-7000 rpm
501 lbft / 1500-5750 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbones
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping

F: 265/35ZR20
R: 295/30ZR20
1875 kg
190 mph (limited)
4.1 (c) / 3.7* / 3.5* / 3.8**
8.0* / 7.9* / 7.9**




Performance tested by: *C&D, **Auto Bild




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6-Series Coupe / Cabriolet


6-Series / M6 Gran Coupe

M6


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