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By Jim Flammang
October 31, 2005
Vehicle Overview BMW reintroduced the 6 Series to the U.S. market in coupe and convertible forms for 2004. The luxury sport two-doors were related to the company's 5 Series sedan.
For 2006, the 6 Series uses a new 360-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 and is now badged 650. All models now have an engine start/stop button. The standard Dynamic Stability Control system gains brake-fade compensation, brake standby, brake drying and a start-off assist feature.
Lightweight construction makes ample use of aluminum and composite materials. Dynamic Driving Control is standard. At the touch of a button, the two-level system alters steering and allows the transmission to hold gears longer.
Exterior Exhibiting what BMW calls classic proportions, the coupe is long, low and wide and features a sculptured power dome hood. Set back on the chassis, the passenger compartment has a low roofline. A large, tilting panorama glass roof is standard on coupes.
An all-aluminum suspension minimizes unsprung weight. Convertibles have a vertical glass rear window that powers up and down and serves as a wind blocker when the top is down. Standard adaptive headlights swivel to illuminate curvy roads.
Park Distance Control, Active Roll Stabilization and 18-inch run-flat tires are standard. Active Cruise Control and Active Steering, which varies the degree to which the front wheels turn, are optional.
Interior Up to four occupants can fit inside the 2+2 coupe and the convertible. With BMW's iDrive system, a console knob controls multiple comfort and convenience functions. Heated front seats, Sirius Satellite Radio and a Logic7 audio system are optional.
Under the Hood The 650's 4.8-liter V-8 produces 360 hp and 360 pounds-feet of torque. Three six-speed transmissions are offered: manual, automatic with a manual-shift provision and BMW's Sequential Manual Gearbox, which incorporates a selector lever and shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Safety BMW's Head Protection System in coupes combines inflatable tubular elements with a stabilizing sail for increased protection. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Convertibles are fitted with roll bars that deploy in an emergency.
Driving Impressions Like most BMWs, the 6 Series is a serious driver's car. The suspensions are sufficiently taut, and occupants may experience a jittery sensation while traversing certain surfaces. This excess motion doesn't really result in a harsh ride, and it's a small price to pay for such superior control.
The seats are satisfyingly supportive, snugly bolstered and more comfortable than their firm cushions suggest. Backseat space is nearly nonexistent when the front seats are moved rearward. Visibility in the coupe is acceptable, but the mirrors could be larger and the B-pillars and tapered rear quarter glass impose some limits. BMW's iDrive system is technically innovative, yet it's sure to annoy some drivers.