2009 BMW 6-Series Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
April 16, 2009

The technological burden the 2009 BMW 6-Series carries is a distraction from the car’s Herculean performance.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the 2009 BMW 6-Series in order to bring you an expert opinion here in this Bottom Line. To help you make the best possible purchase decision, TheCarConnection.com has also researched available road tests on the new BMW 6-Series—including the M6—and have gathered highlights in a Full Review.

There's no denying the raw power and ultimate handling of BMW’s 6-Series, but the model teeters on the edge of techno overload. Electronic add-ons for the steering, braking, and suspension take away some of the feel that makes sportscars emotional purchases—and add heft and confusion to the car. A good diet, kicked off with a trip to the recycling bin for some of the electronics, would help the 6-Series regain some sportscar luster.

The four versions that comprise BMW’s 6-Series include the 650i coupe and convertible, and the V-10-powered M6 coupe and convertible. All models share a common profile, a 2+2 seating arrangement, and truly impressive performance, along with hefty 4,000-pound curb weights and a heavy feel at the controls.

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In 2006 a high-performance M edition was added to the line, and like the M5 sedan, the M6 is propelled by a 500-horsepower V-10 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission that can reach 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds.

A 4.8-liter V-8 with 360 hp moves the 650i. The V-8 is coupled to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed "automatic sports transmission" that offers paddle shifting and a choice of a Sport mode that speeds up gear changes and retunes the car's accelerator and steering for optimal response. With the manual, BMW says the 650i Coupe will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while the Convertible takes 0.3 second more. Both models are limited to 155 mph.

The 6-Series looks thick and squat, especially from the rear, even though BMW reshaped the 6-Series' front and back ends with new LED lights and bi-xenon dual round headlights last year. The decklid was reshaped with a new spoiler and LED taillights, too. Inside it's a little better and reasonably comfortable for two (the rear seats are a mere suggestion), but the wood and leather trim almost gets lost in the BMW 6-Series' complex array of electronic controls. There's the iDrive that works audio, navigation, and climate control; six memory buttons in case you forget where you are in its programming; a lane-departure warning system; and a head-up display all competing for your attention. The convertible top is canvas, not a folding hardtop (which would likely add even more weight).

For 2009 BMW saw fit to add a few electronic gizmos, including Dynamic Cruise Control, Programmable Memory Keys for quick access to iDrive functions, a smartphone adapter, and power-folding exterior mirrors. The expanded BMW Assist includes TeleService, which automatically notifies the BMW center when the vehicle needs service.

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2009 BMW 6-Series

Styling

The styling of the 2009 BMW 6-Series is certainly unique, but not necessarily crowd pleasing.
 

The four versions that comprise BMW’s 6-Series include 650i coupe and convertible, and the V-10-powered M6 coupe and convertible. All models share a common profile, a 2+2 seating arrangement, and truly impressive performance, along with hefty 4,000-pound curb weights and a heavy feel at the controls.

Last year BMW reshaped the 6-Series' front and rear ends and decklid but it still looks thick and squat, especially from the back. ForbesAutos considers it a “sleek design,” and Car and Driver calls its “unique looks” a “high.” Cars.com says “the humplike trunk, probably my least favorite attribute, blends in from most viewing angles.” Edmunds refers to its “controversial styling” and defers on insults: “let's just say the 2009 BMW 6-Series has a great personality.”

There are additional style features, such as "taillights and front turn signals lit with LEDs, a third taillight integrated into the spoiler on the trunk hatch, and lengthier reverse lamps and reflectors," says ForbesAutos. Car and Driver points out the "vertical face of the trunklid grows more concave" as it curves up "to meet the trailing edge of the plateau." Road & Track notes the "unique profile" of the BMW 6-Series "remains essentially unchanged."

Cars.com says, “Side sills are aerodynamically contoured. Forged aluminum 19-inch wheels were developed specifically for the M6, and an 'M' logo is present in the ornamental side slats.” The M6 edition gets a carbon-fiber roof in coupe trim. “Changes to the basic 6 Series design include a modified front air dam with large secondary intake openings that provide additional engine-cooling air.”

The interior of the BMW 6-Series is more along the lines of what you’d expect from BMW. The 6-Series' "leather-wrapped dashboard comes across as a simplistic and elegant design festooned with add-on pods for iDrive," says J.D. Power. Cabins within the 2009 BMW 6-Series models possess an "elegance" that matches the "lofty pricing," says ConsumerGuide. Edmunds agrees, deeming the interior "elegantly crafted," though the cockpit has an "austere feel." Car and Driver calls minor tweaks to the BMW 6-Series "barely worth noting." Stereo controls are "minimalist" in this 2009 BMW, though, and without preset radio buttons, drivers are forced to contend with the iDrive, warns MyRide.com.

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2009 BMW 6-Series

Performance

The M6’s SMG transmission in the 2009 BMW 6-Series lineup is the only weak point in a collection of models with plenty of raw power and technology.

Last year’s Sport Package wasn’t loud enough, so BMW cranked up the decibel level on the exhaust of the M6 with the 2009 Sport Package. The Package also includes additional character lines and a raised center section on the hood, as well as dark chrome exhaust tips.

The BMW 6-Series is nimble and provides "sweet-sounding acceleration," says Edmunds. 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 2009 BMW "nearly neutral handling, although understeer will prevail at the limit," Car and Driver adds. Cars.com explains that with the Active Steering option, “A Sport button behind the shifter quickens accelerator response and decreases power steering assist for more turning precision; both deliver noticeable differences.”

A 360-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 powers the 2009 650i. The 2009 BMW 6-Series has a "mellifluous V-8," says 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." As if that weren't enough, MyRide.com notes the 4.8-liter engine in the 650i "makes 360 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 360 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,400 rpm" and "accelerates the latest BMW to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds."

The 650i’s engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed "automatic sports transmission" that offers paddle shifting and a choice of a Sport mode that speeds up gear changes and retunes the car's accelerator and steering for optimal response. With the manual, BMW says the 650i Coupe will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while the Convertible takes 0.3 second more. Both models are limited to 155 mph.

There’s no doubt that the 6-Series has a weight problem. “To keep its weight in check, aluminum is used extensively for the suspension, hood and doors,” Edmunds says. “Thermoplastic front fenders and a composite deck lid do their high-tech best to keep the 6 Series feeling spry, though this is still essentially a 4,000-pound car.” Cars.com states, “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.”

The 500-horsepower M6 exhibits stunning performance. Like the M5 sedan, the M6 is powered by a V-10 engine that comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission; it can reach 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. The M6 is even more impressive with a "500-horsepower V10," says ConsumerGuide. This screamer “accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds,” Cars.com states. “At start-up, the engine produces a 'comfort-oriented' 400 hp, which is more suitable for urban traffic.” The additional 100 horsepower can be accessed through a special switch. “Hammer the throttle in a 2009 BMW M6 and the car bolts forward,” Edmunds reports.

According to ConsumerGuide, the M6s offer the standard "six-speed manual or a seven-speed automated manual transmission." The seven-speed is basically a manual that lacks a clutch. Instead, "gear changes take place via the floorshifter or steering-wheel paddles." Edmunds gripes “performance of SMG transmission is lackluster and inconsistent in automatic mode.”

Too big-boned to be "sports-car agile," the 6-Series models are sure-footed and "balanced...on highways and byways," says ConsumerGuide. Plus, "braking is strong, stable and straight." The M6 in particular is “as confident as Randy Moss slicing through the Miami Dolphins secondary,” Edmunds crows.

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2009 BMW 6-Series

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 BMW 6-Series exudes luxury and comfort, but where it technically seats four, it realistically seats two.

Besides its cartoonish rear seats, the 2009 BMW 6-Series is an exceptional luxury vehicle with high-quality materials.

The 2009 BMW 6-Series is relatively quiet. ConsumerGuide reports that the wind rush in coupes is "modest" and there's "little top-down wind buffeting even with all windows lowered," and the "engines are audible but pleasing at high rpm." The interior of the 2009 BMW 6-Series is comfortable and quiet, contends Car and Driver, adding that the car provides a feeling of "exclusivity." Specific details of the interior that differ from the previous series include a "wide console" that "imparts a cozy cabin feel," says ConsumerGuide.

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 voices a real concern with the electronics' quality. For instance, "pressing the keyfob's trunk-release switch regularly set off the alarm system."

The BMW 6-Series is spacious enough for two people, but four adults fitting in the car may seem a bit of a stretch. Limited backseat space is a problem for Car and Driver as well. "Good headroom and legroom" are available in the BMW 6-Series "for all but the very tall," and passengers will enjoy the "firm, supportive seats," says ConsumerGuide. However, the "heavy side bolsters can impede entry and exit" in and out of the car, ConsumerGuide adds. But Edmunds doesn't love it, stating the "cockpit has a somewhat austere feel compared to its competitors."

Edmunds also notes that trunk space is 13 cubic feet and a "healthy" 12.4 in the convertible, though that drops to 10.6 cubic feet when the top is lowered. "Interior storage is poor," says ConsumerGuide with "just one cupholder" in the front and rear. Car and Driver echoes the sentiment, claiming 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."

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2009 BMW 6-Series

Safety

The advanced safety systems in the 2009 BMW 6-Series should help it perform well, even if there aren’t real test results to prove it.

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has tested the 2009 BMW 6-Series.

According to reviewers, the 6-Series ranks high for its safety systems, but even with all of these excellent safety precautions in the BMW 6-Series, ConsumerGuide mentions, "Aft visibility is tricky in coupes" and restricted in "top-up convertibles."

Convertible versions of the 2009 BMW 6-Series come standard with "a rollover protection system," says Edmunds, and optional features include a "night vision system that uses a thermal imaging camera to spot potential obstacles" and "a new lane departure warning system."

MyRide.com points out that the 6-Series is equipped with "two-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for front seat passengers, active knee protection airbags, and dual threshold deployment of the seatbelt pretensioners." And Road & Track adds to that list, explaining, "Brake Assistant which, working in conjunction with the car's optional radar-based active cruise control and the stability control systems, will pre-load the brakes should the system decide that the driver is possibly getting into a position where he/she might need additional stopping power." Both systems work together to load the brakes of the BMW 6-Series in case the driver needs additional stopping power.

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2009 BMW 6-Series

Features

Besides the questionable iDrive system, the 2009 BMW 6-Series is littered with enough features to make any car fanatic giddy.

According to TheCarConnection.com's experts, the 2008 6-Series had a little something for everyone, and for 2009, BMW sweetens the deal by upgrading the 6-Series’ Sport Package with a sportier-sounding exhaust system. Also, an improved BMW Assist now includes a Safety Plan for four years at no additional cost and TeleService, which automatically notifies the BMW center when the vehicle will need service.

According to Edmunds, the 2009 BMW series is available in both coupe and convertible body styles. Standard features on the BMW 6-Series include "18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, leather upholstery, 12-way power front seats with driver memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker CD audio system with iPod integration and a regular auxiliary audio jack." The convertible top is canvas, not a folding hardtop (which would likely add even more weight to the hefty 6-Series). A navigation system is also standard, as are power features.

In addition, notes Edmunds, there are two option packages for this 2009 BMW: the Sport package, which includes "19-inch alloy wheels, enhanced exterior trim and sport seats," and the Cold Weather package, which includes "heated seats and steering wheel." Stand-alone options for the BMW 6-Series include different leather trim, HD and satellite radio, Active Steering, adaptive cruise control, BMW’s head-up display, and keyless ignition/entry.

Only Edmunds shows some love for the iDrive on the BMW 6-Series, though not wholeheartedly. It is better than previous versions but still difficult to operate. There are some cool features, however, such as "voice command." You can also unlock the door "by just touching the door handle." The iDrive works audio, navigation, and climate controls; six memory buttons in case you forget where you are in its programming; a lane-departure warning system; and a head-up display, all competing for your attention. MyRide.com professes a love/hate relationship with the controls for the iDrive on the 2009 BMW 6-Series. With the radio dials directly below the climate controls, it's hard to manage them while on the road. "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." ConsumerGuide says, "drivers otherwise grapple with iDrive's many menus and settings—a real distraction."

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