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The BMW 6-Series family has several different personalities, and it revels in every one. As a convertible, it's an effortless year-round cruiser, with or without all-wheel drive. As a Gran Coupe, it's a somewhat more useful four-door that looks better than any other 6er. And as an M6 (as a Gran Coupe or "regular" coupe), it can tackle Formula 1 tracks with a fierce display of speed.All those wildly different missions have something in common: they're all more evocative, more finely rendered than the car that came before them. The lumpy, chunky, pre-2012 6-Series is by now, a distant memory. It's immediately apparent that the new 6er lineup has been massaged all over, from the taut, sculpted hood to the stylized flanks. It's a polite but insistent appeal for attention, well underplayed. On the other hand, the new M6 wears a little more urgency on its sleeves--even before you fire the engine up--with its more aggressive aero work, distinctive wheels, flared fenders flush with the wheels, and somewhat wider stance.
The athletic look is backed up by turbocharged six-cylinder or V-8 engines. In the 640i, it's a 315-horsepower, 3.0-liter six—offering up to 31 mpg on the highway—while the 650i models get a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine making 400 horsepower. That's more than enough to ably motivate the roughly 4,200-pound coupe or convertible or the 4,500-pound Gran Coupe. Mated to BMW's eight-speed transmission, it sends its power to the rear wheels (or to all four wheels in the case of xDrive models) with smooth, even-tempered vigor. The 640i models have a little less of the relaxed muscle-coupe character you get in the 650i, but they're very smooth and strong without needing to be revved.
Carried over as a Coupe and Convertible, and new to the Gran Coupe, is the superbly powerful M6. The former, thirsty V-10's been dumped, and now, like the M5, the M6 propels itself behind a 560-hp twin-turbo V-8, mated to either a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with very fast shifts, or to a six-speed, rev-matching manual transmission. Zero-to-60 mph times are as short as 4.1 seconds. The powertrain's matched to an M-specific chassis, upgraded brakes, special sport seats, and extensive M Drive controls over suspension, steering, powertrain, and stability controls; It even includes two customizable setting buttons to quickly dial in a different character for a certain kind of driving. It's impossible to dial out the heft of the 6-Series, but the M6 has had some of the zingy, frantic responses zapped from its portfolio of driver-adjustable settings. It's more serene, more calm as it executes 150-20-mph braking runs, triple-gear downshifts, or 15-degree corners--and a much better high-speed tourer as a result.
All 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 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 there's not enough headroom for most adults. The rear seats in either Convertible or Coupe are best-suited to small children or luggage, though they can hold adults, particularly with the top down in the convertible, for shorter distances.
Materials and trims are exactly what you'd expect for the premium price. And if you want to customize the 6-Series' look, there's a full set of possibilities through the BMW Individual Composition program. A 10.2-inch wide-screen display and BMW's iDrive system are included on all models, in addition to most other typical luxury-car comforts and conveniences. Noteworthy options dig into leading-edge technology, including night vision; a Bang & Olufsen sound system; top- and side-view cameras; and a parking assistant. You can even simulate the M look without the brutal M power, if anyone would ever want such a thing: an M Sport Package gives the other 6-Series models LED foglamps, special wheels with high-performance tires, an Alcantara headliner, and a higher top-speed limiter.
- Exceptionally quick
- Gran Coupe's extra doors
- Convertible has well-executed lid
- Lots of driving personalities to choose from
- Rocket-like acceleration in M6
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- The scales don't lie
- Steering still feels artificial, but better
- Head room isn't great, anywhere