New & Used BMW 6-Series: In Depth
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The BMW 6-Series is a coupe or convertible--and now, also, a sedan--that occupies a high rung in the BMW performance and luxury universe. Offered with either rear- or all-wheel drive, and a range of eight- and six-cylinder engines, it's a rival for vehicles like the Porsche 911, the Mercedes SL, and the new Mercedes AMG GT.MORE: Read our 2015 BMW 6-Series review
First introduced in 1976, the original BMW 6-Series was only available as a coupe. The long-lived first generation ran until 1989, seeing many changes along the way, including an increase in displacement of its inline six-cylinder engine from the initial 3.2-liter displacement to a final displacement of 3.5 liters. Performance, power, and accommodations likewise made incremental improvements over the 13-year model run. An M6 version offered further enhancements to power and handling.
After a hiatus, the 6-Series returned for its second generation in 2003, taking the place left by the cessation of the 8-Series. This time around, the 6-Series took its basis from the 5-Series' core mechanical underpinnings, but was offered as a coupe and convertible. A 4.4-liter V-8 engine was the standard powerplant, generating a stout 330 horsepower. In 2006, mid-way through the second generation's model run, a new 4.8-liter V-8 was introduced, raising output to 362 horsepower. The M6, debuting in 2005, saw a 500-horsepower V-10 engine paired with the SMG III automated manual gearbox, yielding impressive 0-60 mph acceleration of 4.1 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph--though the M6 itself was capable of 194 mph.
The current generation, which arrived in 2011 as a 2012 model, is also available in coupe and convertible body styles, with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engine in the base 640i model, rated at 320 horsepower. The 650i gets a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine rated at 400 horsepower, and the range-topping M6 uses a sharper version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbo engine to generate a massive 560-horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. The Coupe is available in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, while the Convertible is limited to rear-wheel drive.
An all-new model, the 6-Series Gran Coupe, was also introduced in 2012 as a 2013 model-year vehicle. Taking the 6-Series' styling cues but adding a second pair of doors, the 6-Series Gran Coupe is a luxury four-door coupe available at launch only in 640i guise, sharing its powertrain with the 640i Coupe and Convertible.
In the standard 6-Series coupe and convertible, both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are available. In the M6, a seven-speed M-DCT dual-clutch transmission is the only option thus far. In advance of the M6 first offered as a Convertible for 2012 and a Convertible for 2013 (with the M6 GranCoupe set to arrive in calendar-year 2014), BMW introduced an M Sport Package for the 2012 6-Series.
The 2012 BMW 6-Series also offers a wide range of luxury and technology features, including a 10.2-inch LCD display, fourth-generation iDrive infotainment system, a highly-detailed and sculpted interior design, and 2+2 seating. Twenty-way adjustable power seats, LED headlights, BMW Night Vision with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-change warning, and a high-end Bang & Olufsen sound system are also available options.
An immense array of exterior paint, interior color, upholstery, trim, and other aesthetic options are available to personalize the BMW 6-Series.
For 2013, BMW 650i models received a new twin-turbo V-8 engine, incorporating Valvetronic variable valve timing and making 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Otherwise, 2013 brought a BMW 6-Series Coupe Frozen Silver Edition--a model distinguished by its Frozen Silver paint, 20-inch M Performance Wheels with contrasting black center caps, and other upgrades like a sport exhaust, Alcantara headliner, and custom door sills.
The 2014 model year brought an optional six-speed manual transmission for M6 models, an updated version of the iDrive infotainment system, and a range of color and equipment updates. A Harman Kardon sound upgrade was introduced for 2015. Also in 2015, 6-Series lineup upgraded to a Dynamic Digital Instrument Cluster display and enhanced iDrive touch-pad controller; meanwhile 650i and 650i xDrive models gained a standard M Sport exhaust system, and the Sport automatic transmission gained a Launch Control feature.