2013 BMW 6-Series Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 1, 2012

With the addition of a new four-door Gran Coupe and M6 Coupe, the 6-Series lineup covers the full range of personal luxury, from soft and elegant to sharp and athletic.

Looking from the 640i and 650i Coupe and Convertible models, over to the all-new, very curvaceous Gran Coupe four-door, and to the super-performance M6, the BMW 6-Series lineup appears wildly varied in purpose, and appealing to distinctly different kinds of luxury-car shoppers. But across the entire 6-Series lineup, what these models do have in common is that they're all intensely expressive.

Each of these models do have some common architecture, but there's a very different final mix for look, feel, and functionality between each of them. Style is clearly the priority for the 2013 6-Series, whether you mean the convertible or coupe. Apparent immediately is an urgency that's as much visual as visceral, all the way from its stylized flanks to its sweeping roofline and sculpted hood. They do scream "Look at me!"--but with a politeness that would be welcomed at the country club. M cars wear their urgency on their sleeve, with big wheels, flared fenders, a wider stance, and more aerodynamic aids.

BMW backs up the pounce-ready look with turbo-6 and twin-turbo V-8 engines. A 315-hp, 3.0-liter six fits into the 640i, and rates up to 31 mpg highway. The 650i cars have a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that burns off 400 hp, enough to vault the 4,200-pound car to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. An 8-speed automatic drives the rear wheels (on xDrive 650i cars, to all four wheels) with smooth but even-tempered vigor. 640i cars have less of the 650i's muscle-car feel, but they're strong and very smooth at low revs.

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New in the 2013 model year-actually introduced as a Convertible late in 2012, but now new as a Coupe-is the new-generation super-performance M6. Just as the latest M5, it dumps the thirsty former V-10 in favor of a 560-hp BMW M twin-turbo V-8, mated to a special seven-speed M Double Clutch gearbox that offers exceptionally fast shifts. That's matched with an M specific chassis, upgraded brakes, special sport seats, and extensive M Drive controls over suspension, steering, powertrain, and stability controls; 0-60 mph arrives in as few as 4.1 seconds. It even includes two customizable setting buttons to quickly dial in a different character for a certain kind of driving.

Gran Coupe 6-Series cars have so-called "4+1" seating. It's a way of softening expectations for back-seat space, which isn't bad, but certainly doesn't make the four-doors a great choice for four passengers on a regular basis. It's far better than in two-door cars, and the Gran Coupes don't give up much, if anything, in performance, but for more than two passengers, a 7-Series or 5-Series is a better choice.

Neither the coupe nor the convertible is a legit sports car, but any 6-Series has very good handling, despite their size and weight. Willing partners on country roads, they have roomy front-seat areas with well-designed buckets and a pair of lovely luggage lumps in back, which some people mistakenly refer to as "seats." Even small kids will call you out for putting them back there.

BMW fits its iDrive interface and a 10.2-inch display in all 6-Series cars. On the options list are leading-edge technology, infotainment, and active safety, including night-vision system with pedestrian detection; Bang & Olufsen sound system; active cruise control; top- and side-view cameras; heads-up display; and a Driver Assistance Package (lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, multiple camera views, and a parking assistant). An M Sport Package is offered on those models and adds LED fog lights, high-performance tires and distinctive wheels, and an alcantara headliner.

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2013 BMW 6-Series

Styling

Whether looking at the Coupe, Convertible, Gran Coupe, or M6, the 6-Series is expressive on the outside, aggressively posh inside.

The 2013 BMW 6-Series lineup runs the gamut from coupe to convertible to four-door. They're all very expressively styled, some of the best shapes BMW sells today.

Last year, Coupe and Convertible versions made their debut, with a wider, more athletic look that tends to look just as striking whether in motion or at rest. The look, overall, exudes luxury and confidence at speed, though some interior details speak more to the luxury side.

With a profile that's otherwise lower, longer, and wider than the prior 6-Series, these models simply look ready for action and hunkered-down. The difference between front and rear end looks can impart very different impressions. An aggressively creased hood, converging into the broad nose. BMW's twin-kidney grille creates a furrowed brow, but the hood shape has a slimming effect at the front end.

From the side BMW keeps the surfaces simple. Fenders flare mildly, the profile says all it needs to say. There's some fun interplay between concave and convex sheetmetal, which lends a low-beltline look. Massive alloy wheels seem at home in the Coupe and Gran Coupe models in particular.

The cockpit has some of the spirit of a sport sedan, but it's far from stark and intimate. It's another BMW luxury car, and it's one of the more richly appointed vehicles it builds. The instruments and controls are canted toward the driver, but in a low-key way. Trim choices, from leather to wood to suede, pitch the 6-Series into an inviting direction that's nearly as plush as a 7-Series.

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2013 BMW 6-Series

Performance

The 6-Series is athletic, but it's the polar opposite of a light-weight sports car, instead devouring highway miles and high-speed sweepers.

The 6-Series doesn't exist to record the lowest lap times or to preserve the brand's pure-bred sports-car heritage. It's a beefy, big grand tourer devoted to devouring interstates and autobahns, without losing the limber feel that lends itself to tackling tightly convoluted roads.

The 6-Series comes as either a 640i or a 650i, in convertible and coupe body styles. The 640i sports a 3.0-liter turbo-6 that builds 315 hp, while 650i cars bear a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine V-8 is the better fit to the 6-Series' relaxed sense of strength. It emits smooth, easy power, and sounds and feels more laid-back than the harder-working turbo-6.

Confident handling with good highway tracking defines any 6-Series. It's possible to push them as you'd push a small car around a corner, and they cruise without much effort at 100 mph. We wish the steering had more feedback and more natural weighting in corners. It's taken BMW longer to find its way to truly good electric power steering than it's taken other makes.

BMW fits every 6-Series with Driving Dynamics Control. It's the godhead that controls and fine-tunes shift patterns, throttle uptake, suspension damping, and stability control intervention. Drivers can pick from Sport+ to Comfor modes, depending on the road ahead and the passengers' tolerance for shenanigans. The system gives the car a really wide range of talents, from absorbent highway cruiser to tensed-up track-weekend runner.

An 8-speed automatic is standard on the 640i and 650i. It shifts seamlessly and smoothly, rising to the task of aggressive driving very well. A 6-speed manual is a zero-cost option, but it's available on rear-drive V-8 cars only. You can also order all-wheel drive on 650i Coupe or Convertible models (only with automatic); it's one of the few all-wheel-drive convertibles for sale.

The current M6 arrived in 2012 as a Convertible and in 2013, it's now offered as a Coupe. It drops the thirsty old V-10 for a 560-hp twin-turbo V-8, coupled to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox with lightning-fast shifts. That's matched with an M-tuned suspension, special sport seats, upgraded brakes, and M Drive software control over steering, suspension, powertrain, and stability control. BMW fits the M with two preset buttons so drivers can program a set of driving favorites, and engage at the flick of a button.

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2013 BMW 6-Series

Comfort & Quality

A smooth ride, quiet cabin, attention to detail make the 6-Series a standout even in the ranks of luxury grand tourers; but don't expect much usable backseat space--even in the Gran Coupe.

The 2013 BMW 6-Series models are quiet, comfortable grand tourers, and even though they offer up surprisingly strong performance, comfort and quiet--as well as a tight, well-appointed cabin--are top priorities.

Last year BMW replaced the previous 6-Series' somewhat clunky space with a well-built and intriguingly designed cabin. The driver-focused controls sees the center console canted toward the left, and the control surfaces are made of plastics and leathers that look and feel premium. The overall effect from inside is one of classiness and exuberance.

If you're taller, you might need to tuck your head a bit when getting in and out, but once you're inside that lowish roofline is no longer an issue in the Coupe. The front seats offer great back and thigh support, as in most of their lineup, while there should be enough headroom for nearly everyone. Thanks to a plethora of adjustments and comfort-enhancers in the front powered buckets, there should be no problem finding a supportive.

BMW gave the 6-Series a stretch with last year's redesign, but in either Coupe or Convertible models there's still just not enough space for adults back there. Even with the front seats scooted up for shorter folk in front, those back seats are best left for kids or cargo.

Gran Coupe models feature four doors and what BMW calls 4+1 seating, making egress into the rear seats easier than 6-Series Coupe models. The Gran Coupe retains the driving dynamics of the standard Coupe, but its improved rear accommodations (with a wheelbase that's 4.5 inches longer and virtually all of that going to rear legroom) make it more appealing to those who regularly carry more than one passenger. That said, the Gran Coupe isn't a substitute for the 7-Series, or any of BMW's more upright sedans, really, as while legroom is okay there's still not enough headroom for most adults. For parents or grandparents who want the feel of a coupe but with a few extra seats for the weekend, it's perfect.

Even though the BMW 6-Series sticks with a fabric top in Convertible form. While rivals have gone all-in on folding hardtops, BMW's fabric roof is a better choice for convenience and for packaging, not to mention weight savings. In under 20 seconds, the fabric roof can be stowed or raised, and it fits in a smaller space than most folding hardtops. Its glass window can be opened for better ventilation, too. With the top down, the trunk has 10.6 cubic feet of space.

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2013 BMW 6-Series

Safety

The guiding hand of advanced-tech safety features makes the 6-Series one of the safer touring-coupe picks.

No crash tests have been performed on the current 6-Series.

All models come with a slew of safety technology. The brakes alone have anti-lock control; automatic brake drying; cornering brake control; and adaptive stability control.

Other safety options include surround-view cameras; variable-ratio steering; LED headlights; and night vision with pedestrian detection.

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2013 BMW 6-Series

Features

The 6-Series models shamelessly offers nearly all the luxury, appearance, and tech upgrades you'll find in BMW's flagship 7-Series.


Anyone who's shopped for a BMW will be familiar with the way features are packaged in the 2013 6-Series: The standard-equipment list is impressive, but there's lots of room to add packages or standalone options. In all, you can add more than $25k to the bottom line on a 640i or 650i, while the M6.

Some of the highlights of the 6-Series' standard equipment list include the iDrive infotainment and control system, which uses a console-mounted knob and 10.2-inch widescreen display to enable multi-function access and control of the car's systems; rearview camera plus front/rear parking sensors; and the BMW Assist telematics and help line service (four year contract).

In the 640i and 650i Coupe and Convertible models, there are abundant options to upgrade at almost every turn--in upholstery, trim, infotainment, and even advanced safety tech. Really, the list of what you can get is much longer than what you can't.

Among the noteworthy options include night-vision system with pedestrian detection; Bang & Olufsen sound system; active cruise control; top- and side-view cameras; heads-up display; and a Driver Assistance Package (lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, multiple camera views, and a parking assistant). An M Sport Package is offered on those models and adds LED foglamps; special wheels with high-performance tires; an alcantara headliner; and a raised top-speed limiter.

Through the BMW Individual Composition program you can also upgrade or customize any number of interior and exterior aesthetics.

The new M6 comes with a long list of additional performance and appearance equipment, including Dynamic Damper Control, the M Double-clutch Transmission, and special M wheels. Packages in the M6 are consolidated into a Driver Assistance Package, an Executive Package (heated steering wheel, soft door closing, active front seats, full LED lighting, a head-up display, satellite radio, and BMW Apps), and a list of standalone items.

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2013 BMW 6-Series

Fuel Economy

For such heavy, luxurious, high-performance line of models, the 2013 6-Series is quite efficient.

The 2013 BMW 6-Series models offer several different powertrains that span a difference in power and capability.

Although there's no truly green choice, the turbo six-cylinder engine in the 640i variants is quite efficient, at 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway in Coupe form, according to the EPA; the convertible scores 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

Stepping up to the V-8 engine in the 650i, the hardtops get 15/23 mpg ratings with the eight-speed automatic, while the six-speed manual scores 15/22 mpg. Soft-top models score identical numbers.

There's also an xDrive all-wheel-drive version of the new 6-Series Coupe, which pays a penalty of just 2 mpg on the highway in comparison to rear-drive V-8 models, at 15/20 mpg.

The new M6 Coupe and Convertible are also impressive--on a relative scale. Compared to the previous V-10-powered M6, the new versions offer a 23-percent improvement in efficiency, according to BMW. But even with that improvement, they're at 14 mpg city, 20 highway (16 mpg Combined).

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