2010 BMW 6-Series Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
December 28, 2009

Carrying all of its technology and features around makes the 2010 BMW 6-Series heavier and less precise than it could be.

TheCarConnection.com's editors bring you their own expert opinion from behind the wheel of the 2010 BMW 6-Series for this Bottom Line. To help make the most informed buying decision possible, TheCarConnection.com has also researched and compiled the available road tests on the 2010 6-Series, including its M6 alter ego, for the Full Review.

The 2010 BMW 6-Series carries forward from its minor revisions in the 2008 and 2009 model years, adding a few minor upgrades, including an updated navigation system and new interior and exterior styling options from BMW Individual.

A swooping, aerodynamic front end leads to a rather thick and squat rear end that, despite previous restyling attempts, still seems at odds with the rest of the design. Front LED lights and bi-xenon headlights give the car a thoroughly modern look at night. Inside, styling is less objectionable and every bit as elegant as you'd expect, with wood and leather trim, especially with the BMW Individual updates for 2010, bringing a luxurious feel to the cabin. Complex electronic controls and features get in the way of the elegant styling at times, however, due to a proliferation of buttons and knobs on the center console. Unlike many models in the 6-Series' price and performance range, the Convertible variants still use a soft top, which saves weight even if it offers somewhat less isolation from the elements.

Review continues below

Handling and power are definite strong suits for the 2010 BMW 6-Series, but its plethora of high-tech equipment takes away much of what makes a great driver's car great in the name of refinement and efficiency. Hefty weight and a lack of feel behind the wheel also dim the 6-Series' otherwise bright light.

Coupe and Convertible versions of both the standard V-8-powered 6-Series 650i and the more sport-focused V-10-powered M6 are available. All models offer the same 2+2 seating layout, and the standard car comes with either a manual or sport-shift automatic six-speed transmission. The M6 is available with either a seven-speed sequential manual or a traditional six-speed manual transmission.

The V-8 engine that propels the 650i Coupe and Convertible is rated at 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to take the car to 60 mph in a manufacturer claimed time of 5.5 seconds for the manual transmission and 5.6 seconds for the auto. The 5.0-liter V-10-powered M6 offers a whopping 500 horsepower of output for blazingly quick times of 4.5 and 4.6 seconds for the sequential-manual equipped Coupe and Convertible, respectively. All models are electronically limited to a maximum speed of 155 mph.

With its 2+2 layout, the 2010 BMW 6-Series might seem to have room for four passengers, but the rear seats are better termed package shelves, as they only offer the suggestion of actual seating space. Front passenger comfort is excellent, however, with well-bolstered and supportive seating offering plenty of room. Interior pockets and storage space aren't abundant, but are adequate for a typical highway jaunt. Cargo space in the trunk is actually fairly good at 13.0 cubic feet, thanks in part to the oddly styled decklid, which doesn't impinge on the available space. The Convertible has less space than the Coupe for obvious reasons, but it's still adequate for overnight trips or golf outings, at 12.4 cubic feet with the top up and 10.6 cubic feet with it down.

Features abound in the 2010 BMW 6-Series and M6, with an available moonroof on Coupe models, and a fully power-actuated multilayer soft top on the Convertibles, plus optional sport seats as part of the new Sports Package, a special sun-reflective interior treatment for the Convertibles, a wide range of interior styles and décor, and of course, electronics like heads-up display, dynamic cruise control, and much more. The new fourth-generation iDrive system adds features and makes the notoriously complex interface a bit easier to handle, though it's still not as intuitive as many might like.

There are also no compromises when it comes to safety in the 2010 6-Series, with a range of standard features, including Active Head Restraints, Active Knee Protection, Active Head Protection (Coupe), Rollover Protection System (Convertible), and a full complement of airbags, electronic stability and traction control, and a state-of-the-art safety cell and crumple zone structure.

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2010 BMW 6-Series

Styling

Uniqueness doesn't always equate to successful styling, especially in the case of the rear end, but there's a lot to like about the 2010 BMW 6-Series' looks, too.

A swooping, aerodynamic front end leads to a rather thick and squat rear end that, despite previous restyling attempts, still seems at odds with the rest of the design. Front LED lights and bi-xenon headlights give the car a thoroughly modern look at night.

Cars.com calls "the humplike trunk" their "least favorite attribute," though they note that it "blends in from most viewing angles." Edmunds says the 6-Series has "controversial styling" but stops short of insults, remarking only that the "BMW 6-Series has a great personality." Car and Driver takes the high road, labeling its "unique looks" a "high."

Road & Track also waxes politically correct, noting the "unique profile" of the BMW 6-Series "remains essentially unchanged" since the redesign. Car and Driver explains why the decklid bothers so many, pointing out how the "vertical face of the trunklid grows more concave" as it curves up "to meet the trailing edge of the plateau."

For the M6, BMW adds a few unique features, including forged 19-inch wheels, "M" logos throughout the car, and a carbon-fiber roof in coupe trim. The M6 also gets a freer-breathing front end and more aggressive aerodynamic styling in general than the standard 6-Series.

Inside, styling is less objectionable and every bit as elegant as you'd expect, with wood and leather trim, especially with the BMW Individual updates for 2010, bringing a luxurious feel to the cabin. Complex electronic controls and features get in the way of the elegant styling at times, however, due to a proliferation of buttons and knobs on the center console. Unlike many models in the 6-Series' price and performance range, the Convertible variants still use a soft top, which saves weight even if it offers somewhat less isolation from the elements.

The 6-Series' dual interior character is summed up well by J.D. Power, whose reviewers note that the leather dashboard's "simplistic and elegant design" is "festooned with add-on pods for iDrive." Edmunds mostly agrees, calling the interior "elegantly crafted," though it has an "austere feel." The 2010 BMW 6-Series' interiors offer "elegance" that matches their "lofty pricing," says ConsumerGuide. Stereo controls are contrastingly "minimalist" in this 2010 BMW, according to MyRide.com, though, and without preset radio buttons, drivers are forced to contend with the iDrive.

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2010 BMW 6-Series

Performance

Heavy weight is the main weak spot in the 2010 BMW 6-Series/M6's arsenal of performance.

Handling and power are definite strong suits for the 2010 BMW 6-Series, but its plethora of high-tech equipment takes away much of what makes a great driver's car great in the name of refinement and efficiency. Hefty weight and a lack of feel behind the wheel also dim the 6-Series' otherwise bright light. Electric power steering and other aids are to blame for the lack of connection through the steering wheel.

Handling remains easy, "thanks to aggressive tires and a well-balanced rear-drive chassis." The BMW 6-Series also has "various stability and traction control systems" that make the car "exceptionally stable on low-adhesion surfaces" and gives this 2010 BMW "nearly neutral handling, although understeer will prevail at the limit," Car and Driver comments. Cars.com points out that the Active Steering system adds a "Sport button behind the shifter," which "quickens accelerator response and decreases power steering assist for more turning precision."

Coupe and Convertible versions of both the standard V-8-powered 6-Series 650i and the more sport-focused V-10-powered M6 are available. All models offer the same 2+2 seating layout, and the standard car comes with either a manual or sport-shift automatic six-speed transmission. The M6 is available with either a seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG) or a traditional six-speed manual transmission.

The V-8 engine that propels the 650i Coupe and Convertible is rated at 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to take the car to 60 mph in a manufacturer claimed time of 5.5 seconds for the manual transmission and 5.6 seconds for the auto. The 5.0-liter V-10-powered M6 offers a whopping 500 horsepower of output for blazingly quick times of 4.5 and 4.6 seconds for the sequential-manual equipped Coupe and Convertible, respectively. All models are electronically limited to a maximum speed of 155 mph. A new Sport Package for 2010 adds 19-inch alloy wheels and high-performance tires, a more sound-intensive exhaust system with Black Chrome tips, and a range of interior and exterior styling cues.

The BMW 6-Series is nimble and provides "sweet-sounding acceleration," says Edmunds. The 2010 BMW 6-Series has a "mellifluous V-8," coos Car and Driver. "Although there's a nice surge of power toward the top of the tachometer, there's plenty of torque available at any rpm," Edmunds remarks of the V-8, and calls it "silken and anxious to rev."

If the 2010 6-Series has one key performance weakness, it is weight. Cars.com puts the relative heft of the Convertible in perspective: "The 650i convertible weighs a significant 463 pounds extra-about 12 percent-so it comes in at 5.6 and 5.7 seconds for the manual and automatic, respectively." For the Coupe, BMW used aluminum "extensively for the suspension, hood and doors," says Edmunds. Similarly, composite front fenders and decklid help with the weight problem, "though this is still essentially a 4,000-pound car." Despite their heavy weight, the 6-Series is sure-footed and "balanced...on highways and byways," remarks ConsumerGuide, going on to note that "braking is strong, stable and straight."

Still, the 500-horsepower M6 is a stunning performer. At full tilt, it "accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds," according to Cars.com. Not all of that power is available at start-up-only 400 horsepower is generated in standard mode for easier city driving. The rest of the M6's bounty of power can be tapped through a special switch. "Hammer the throttle in a 2010 BMW M6 and the car bolts forward," Edmunds reports. ConsumerGuide sums up the performance of the two main variants of the 2010 6-Series succinctly: "The 650s have superb power and response for most any situation. Potent M6s are race-car rapid."

The Edmunds does find one thing to complain about, noting the "performance of SMG transmission is lackluster and inconsistent in automatic mode," though most reviewers find the automatic to be easy to use and predictable. The SMG is more at home in manual mode as well.

8

2010 BMW 6-Series

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 BMW 6-Series might offer real-world accommodations for only two instead of four, but those two passengers will be comfortable and satisfied.

With its 2+2 layout, the 2010 BMW 6-Series should have room for four passengers, but the rear seats are better termed package shelves, as they only offer the suggestion of actual seating space. Front passenger comfort is excellent, however, with well-bolstered and supportive seating offering plenty of room.

The cabin of the 2010 BMW 6-Series is relatively quiet. ConsumerGuide reports that the wind rush in coupes is "modest," there's "little top-down wind buffeting even with all windows lowered," and the "engines are audible but pleasing at high rpm." Car and Driver agrees, adding that the car provides a feeling of "exclusivity."

Edmunds greatly enjoys the "top-quality cabin materials" and "optional Harman Kardon sound system." Cars.com says, "fit and finish are excellent, and so are the materials," but ConsumerGuide has serious questions about the car's electronics quality, pointing out that "pressing the keyfob's trunk-release switch regularly set off the alarm system" in their test car. Specific details of the interior that differ from the previous series include a "wide console" that "imparts a cozy cabin feel," remarks ConsumerGuide.

Car and Driver notes that despite the lack of rear passenger room, there is "Good headroom and legroom" up front in the 2010 BMW 6-Series "for all but the very tall," and ConsumerGuide describes the standard buckets as "firm, supportive," though "heavy side bolsters" can make it tough to get in and out of the car. Edmunds doesn't care for the overall atmosphere, saying that the "cockpit has a somewhat austere feel compared to its competitors."

Interior pockets and storage space aren't abundant, but are adequate for a typical highway jaunt, though ConsumerGuide bemoans the fact that there's "just one cupholder" in the front and rear. Cargo space in the trunk is actually fairly good at 13.0 cubic feet, thanks in part to the oddly styled decklid, which doesn't impinge on the available space. The Convertible has less space than the Coupe for obvious reasons, but it's still adequate for overnight trips or golf outings, at 12.4 cubic feet with the top up and 10.6 cubic feet with it down. Car and Driver says the BMW 6-Series compromises utility-"four passengers rather than five, less rear headroom, less cargo space"-to amp up the "style and sportier dynamics," though that perspective neglects its grand-tourer intentions.

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2010 BMW 6-Series

Safety

Despite a lack of safety testing from the recognized authorities, buyers can take comfort in BMW's advanced safety equipment, both standard and optional.

There are also no compromises when it comes to safety in the 2010 6-Series, which boasts a range of standard features, including Active Head Restraints, Active Knee Protection, Active Head Protection (Coupe), Rollover Protection System (Convertible), and a full complement of airbags, electronic stability and traction control, and a state-of-the-art safety cell and crumple zone structure. Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has tested the 2010 BMW 6-Series, however.

The vast array of high-tech safety features doesn't go unnoticed by reviewers, but ConsumerGuide finds "Aft visibility is tricky in coupes" and similarly restricted in "top-up convertibles."

An optional night vision system with a far-infrared camera that can spot potential roadside obstacles such as pedestrians is available, as is a lane departure warning system. A full slate of airbags, including two-stage front and side-impact airbags for front seat passengers, active knee protection airbags, and seat belt pretensioners, are standard. Road & Track points out the "Brake Assistant" system that can coordinate with the standard stability control system and optional adaptive cruise control to "pre-load the brakes" if the computer thinks the driver "is possibly getting into a position where he/she might need additional stopping power."

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2010 BMW 6-Series

Features

The complex but feature-packed iDrive system aside, there's a lot here for any techno-geek to love.

Features abound in the 2010 BMW 6-Series and M6, with an available moonroof on Coupe models, and a fully power-actuated multilayer soft top on the Convertibles, plus optional sport seats as part of the new Sports Package, a special sun-reflective interior treatment for the Convertibles, a wide range of interior styles and décor, and of course, electronics like heads-up display, dynamic cruise control, and much more.

Eighteen-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, bi-xenon headlights, 12-way power front seats with driver memory settings, Bluetooth hands-free, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod integration to the eight-speaker CD stereo system, plus an auxiliary input jack are also available. On Convertible models, the top is a power-operated multilayer canvas soft top, rather than a sturdy-but heavy-folding hardtop. Satellite navigation and full power features are also standard equipment.

A pair of options packages-the Sport Package and the Premium Sound Package-is available. The Sport Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels and high-performance tires, a more sound-intensive exhaust system with Black Chrome tips, a special range of colors, including Imola Red and Carbon Black Metallic, a unique hood with a raised "power dome" center, a high-gloss Shadowline interior trim around the side windows, special sport seats, and an Alcantara anthracite-colored headliner in the Coupe. The Premium Sound Package upgrades the standard stereo to a Logic7 system with 13 speakers (11 in the Convertible), digital sound processing, simulated surround sound, a six-disc CD changer, and USB adapter for iPod or MP3 players.

The new fourth-generation iDrive system adds an 8.8-inch high-resolution display, improved menu structures, more intuitive operation, and even more functionality while building on the depth of features that has made iDrive famous-and infamous. Voice recognition should make it a bit easier to get data into the system, while a HUD and the larger display combine with BMW's voice prompting nav system to ease the process of getting info out as well.

Most reviewers take potshots at the iDrive system, but Edmunds weighs in with some half-hearted praise, noting that it "reduces button clutter to a minimum," but remains "confusing" to operate. The iDrive is such a common peeve because it is used to control audio, navigation, and climate controls, making it central to the user experience. Six memory buttons offer shortcuts in case you forget where you are in its programming; plus, there's a lane-departure warning system and a head-up display, all configured and controlled through the iDrive. Even the simpler functions, like tuning the radio, can be tough: "In addition to the minimalist stereo controls on the center of the dashboard," MyRide.com pleads of BMW, "consider adding a tuning knob and a row of radio station preset buttons."

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