2008 BMW 6-Series Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 BMW 6-Series is overwrought and overstocked with technology that distracts even from the M6’s heroic performance.

The 2008 BMW 6-Series is actually four cars: the 650i hardtop and convertible, and the M6 convertible and hardtop. They share 2+2 seating, a similar profile, and stunning performance, along with chunky curb weights and the resulting heavy feel at the controls.

The 650i gets its drive from a 4.8-liter V-8 with 360 hp, teamed with a 6-speed automated manual or a conventional 6-speed manual. Sport mode heightens shifting response and remaps the throttle and steering feel. Manual 650i Coupes can reach 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, BMW says, while Convertibles take 0.3 seconds more. Both hit 155 mph.

BMW added the M6 performance edition in 2006. Like the M5 sedan, the M6 draws power from a 500-hp V-10 mated to a 6-speed manual. So equipped, it vaults to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

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For 2008, BMW restyled the 6-Series with new LED lights, a reshaped decklid, and LED taillights, too. The 6-Series still looks squat and thick, especially from the rear. Inside it's comfortable for two passengers, but its wood and leather trim get lost in the complex sea of electronic controls. IDrive controls audio, navigation, and climate, and it's far from fumble-free. On convertibles, the canvas top is lighter and less complex than a folding hardtop.

The 6-Series has copious power and great handling, but it teeters on technology overload. Braking, steering, and suspension all are controlled by electronics, and that chips away at the emotional connection that draws us to sporty cars in the first place. A good diet and a trip to the electronic recycling bin would help the 6-Series buff its sports-car luster.

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2008 BMW 6-Series

Styling

The 2008 BMW 6-Series has a distinctive look that’s not universally pleasing.

The 2008 BMW 6-Series is actually four cars: the 650i convertible and coupe, and the M6 convertible and coupe. They share a profile, 2+2 seating, and impressive performance, as well as hefty curb weights and a heavy feel at the controls.

To TheCarConnection.com, the 6-Series still seems squat and thick, especially at the rear end. Edmunds says it has a "great personality." Cars.com says it has a "humplike trunk." Car and Driver says it has "unique looks." Slight updates this year left the 6-Series "essentially unchanged," according to Road & Track. M6 coupes get a carbon-fiber roof, while convertibles and coupes get a deep front air dam, says Cars.com says.

Inside the BMW 6-Series, the story is a little less controversial. Car and Driver says updates here are "barely worth noting." Consumer Guide says the cockpit has an "elegance", and Edmunds agrees, though it says the "elegantly crafted" interior has an "austere feel."

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2008 BMW 6-Series

Performance

The 2008 BMW 6-Series has plenty of raw power and technology to aid its performance—though the M6’s SMG transmission needs a rework.

The 2008 BMW 6-Series has stunning performance, especially as a 500-horsepower M6.

The 650i gets its drive from a 360-hp, 4.8-liter V-8 mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automated-manual shifter, which has no clutch pedal but uses a single clutch to shift in either standard or Sport modes. BMW says the 650i Coupe hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while Convertibles take 0.3 seconds longer. Both are limited to a 155-mph top speed.

The 6-Series has a "mellifluous V-8," says Car and Driver. 'There's plenty of torque," Edmunds reports of V-8 cars. The engine, they say, is "silken and anxious to rev." Cars.com points out the convertible carries "463 pounds extra," so its acceleration is notably slower. BMW uses aluminum in the suspension, hood and doors, Edmunds says, though it's still a 4,000-pound car.

The high-output M6 joined the lineup for 2006. Power comes from a V-10 mated to a 6-speed manual. Zero-to-60 mph times check in at 4.5 seconds. The M6's 500-hp V-10 dials back output to 400 hp on start-up, to make urban traffic smoother. A switch turns on the extra power: "Hammer the throttle," Edmunds says, "and the car bolts forward.

The 650i can be had with either a 6-speed manual or automatic, says ConsumerGuide, while the M6 offers the 6-speed "or a 7-speed automated manual." They describe the latter's action, in which gear shifts happen "via the floorshifter or steering-wheel paddles." Edmunds calls the automatic manual's performance "lackluster and inconsistent."

"Sweet-sounding acceleration" emanates from the engines, but the 6er is even better at handling, Edmunds says, thanks to "a well-balanced rear-drive chassis." Car and Driver adds it's "exceptionally stable on low-adhesion surfaces." Cars.com says a new feature "quickens accelerator response and decreases power steering assist", which gives the car "more turning precision." Though these cars are too big to be "sports-car agile," they are "balanced," ConsumerGuide says.

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2008 BMW 6-Series

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 BMW 6-Series is snug for four, but two fit perfectly amid the top-quality materials and construction.

The 2008 BMW 6-Series has exceptional luxury and high-quality materials, but its token rear seats are just that.

The 6-Series has a "comfortable and quiet" interior, Car and Driver says. A wide console "imparts a cozy cabin feel,"ConsumerGuide says. The 6-Series provides good leg and head room "for all but the very tall." Passengers get "firm, supportive seats." Edmunds thinks the cabin has a "somewhat austere feel." Two passengers fit fine, but four aren't comfortable, Car and Driver notes.

"Interior storage is poor," ConsumerGuide points out. Car and Driver reports the 6er's cabin has "less rear headroom, less cargo space" than rivals. Edmunds says the 13-cubic-foot trunk remains a "healthy" 12.4 cubic feet in convertibles, though that figure falls to 10.6 cubic feet with the top lowered.

"Fit and finish are excellent," Cars.com says. ConsumerGuide voices concerns, noting that the keyfob "regularly set off the alarm." Edmunds calls the cockpit's materials "top-quality."

The quiet environment lets just enough engine noise in, and the sound is "pleasing at high rpm," ConsumerGuide says. The wind rush in coupes is "modest," they add.

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2008 BMW 6-Series

Safety

The 2008 BMW 6-Series has advanced safety systems, but crash-tests scores aren’t available.

Even though the 2008 BMW 6-Series has not been tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, it ranks high for safety systems.

MyRide.com touts them as including "active knee protection airbags."

Convertibles come with "rollover protection," Edmunds says. Options, they add, include "night vision" and a "lane departure warning system."

ConsumerGuide says even with these features, "Aft visibility is tricky."

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2008 BMW 6-Series

Features

The features of the 2008 BMW 6-Series can make any car fanatic smile with delight—with the exception of iDrive.

The 2008 BMW 6-Series comes as either a convertible or as a coupe. Edmunds notes standard features include 18-inch wheels, leather, 12-way power front seats, Bluetooth, and eight-speaker CD audio. Navigation is standard, as well as power features, and convertibles get power-operated fabric tops.

Two option packages dress up the 6-Series. Sport cars get sport seats, 19-inch wheels and distinct trim, while a cold-weather package adds a heated steering wheel and heated seats. Free-flow options include satellite radio, upgraded leather, variable-ratio steering, adaptive cruise control, keyless ignition, and a head-up display.

BMW's iDrive system runs navigation, climate, and audio systems. It has six memory presets that help drivers grow used to its knob-controller interface. It's a love-hate prospect; the minimalist controls remove a lot of long-standing, commonly understood interfaces such as a volume knob. At the same time the system forces drivers that might not be familiar with the interface to use it-or else. Edmunds says the latest version of iDrive is better than previous versions, and says it offers voice commands as a third input option.

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