The Car Connection BMW 6-Series Overview
The BMW 6-Series is the German automaker's style- and luxury-oriented convertible and low-roofed four-door lineup.
With the 6-Series, BMW has fleshed out its lineup to include sleeker shapes—almost hatchbacks in the case of the 6-Series Gran Coupe—that would look out of place in the more traditional 5- and 7-Series lineups.
The wide-ranging family of 6ers competes with vehicles from the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, to the Porsche 911 and Panamera, to the new Mercedes-AMG GT.
All styles are available with a choice of 6- and 8-cylinder engines, including top-flight M6 variants in each shape. All-wheel drive is available as well. In addition, BMW offers an Alpina version of the Gran Coupe dubbed B6.
MORE: Read our 2018 BMW 6-Series review
For 2018, the 6-Series coupe lineup—that is, the hardtop two-door—has been axed. Gran Coupe and convertible models remain available with both 6- and 8-cylinder power.
The new BMW 6-Series
The current generation, which arrived in 2011 as a 2012 model, was initially available in coupe and convertible body styles, with a turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder 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 hp, and the range-topping M6 uses a sharper version of the 4.4-liter to generate a massive 560 hp and 500 pound-feet of torque. The coupe was initially available in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, while the Convertible was initially limited to rear-wheel drive.
BMW grew the 6-Series lineup for the 2013 model year with a new body style, the 6-Series Gran Coupe. This slinky sedan is BMW's first entry into the so-called four-door coupe segment pioneered by Mercedes-Benz's CLS-Class. It's a cross between a 5-Series sedan and a 6-Series coupe, with a wide track and a long hood. The Gran Coupe was initially launched as a 640i with the turbocharged inline-6; V-8 and all-wheel-drive versions were added shortly after.
In the standard 6-Series coupe and convertible, both 6-speed manual and 8-speed automatic transmissions are available. The M6 can be had with a 7-speed M-DCT dual-clutch automatic or a 6-speed manual, offered exclusively in the U.S. In advance of the M6 debuting as a convertible for 2012 and a convertible for 2013 (and the M6 Gran Coupe arriving in calendar-year 2014), BMW introduced an M Sport Package for the 2012 6-Series that's still available.
The current BMW 6-Series also offers a wide range of luxury and technology features, including a 10.2-inch LCD display, the 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 range of BMW 6-Series models.
For 2013, BMW 650i models received a new twin-turbo V-8 engine, incorporating Valvetronic variable valve timing and making 445 hp and 480 lb-ft 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 6-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, the 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. The very-limited-run Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe was added for 2015, powered by a 540-hp twin-turbocharged V-8. The B6 is sort of like a rarer, less-powerful M6 that adds all-wheel drive.
BMW has bestowed a very mild refresh on the 6-Series lineup for 2016. Changes are very subtle on the exterior—and the M6 models actually go without visual updates—and there is also some mild freshening of the interior. The previously optional full-LED headlights are updated and have been made standard on all models.
The 2017 version added BMW's newest version of its infotainment, but carried on largely unchanged from the year before it.
BMW 6-Series history
From its introduction as a 1976 model to the end of the first generation in 1989, the 6-Series was available only as a coupe and shared underpinnings with the 5-Series sedans of its time. The first 6er saw many changes over its long run, with its 3.2-liter inline-6 growing to 3.5 liters by the end. There also were incremental improvements to the interior, performance, and power over time, and BMW also created the first M6, which offered power and handling upgrades beyond what the standard car could provide.
After a hiatus, the 6-Series returned for its second generation in 2003, taking a spot vacated by the 8-Series. This time around, the 6-Series again 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 hp. In 2006, midway through the second generation's model run, a new 4.8-liter V-8 was introduced, raising output to 362 hp. Debuting in 2005, the new M6 received a 500-hp 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 car was capable of 194 mph.