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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
BMW’s original 6 Series was a deeply lovely thing with its sharky front end, delicately slim pillars and perfect proportions. This child of the 70s set an aesthetic standard that its successor, launched in 2000, was singularly unable to match.
Bluff fronted and brutal in its application of power, the second generation Six was undeniably effective, but never a car that tugged your heart strings, even in searingly rapid M6 form.
The Convertible version was a vehicle that always divided opinion. Some saw it as a bloated poseur’s car, the crass automotive equivalent of jangly gold jewellery. Look beyond the flashy gimmickry and the 6 Series Convertible was actually a very talented package. But it was never a great looking car and for any grand touring convertible to be judged an unqualified success, head-turning ability is mandatory. The latest 6 Series answers that call with some élan.
There are only two engines currently offered with the 6 Series Convertible, although it’s a dead cert that a diesel will be slotted in at some point and an M6 variant may also follow suit. For the time being, UK buyers are hardly short-changed by the powerplants on offer.
First up is the 320bhp 640i model, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six with Valvetronic variable valve control and direct injection. It’ll get to 60mph in 5.4s and powers on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. The 4.4-litre 650i hits the same electronically governed top speed, but its 407bhp V8 catapults it to 60mph in a Porsche-worrying 4.8 seconds.
Despite styling that sharply divided opinion, the old BMW 6 Series Convertible was a decent performer in terms of sales for BMW, but its faults were easy to outline. The exterior lines were unresolved, the control systems inside too complicated and depreciation was hefty. BMW has certainly addressed the first of those issues with its successor, the latest 6 Series Convertible being markedly more elegant. The latter two issues are open to debate. BMW persists with the ‘more is more’ approach when it comes to offering the driver myriad options regarding how the car drives and it’s hard to see how a large, expensive convertible is going to make a safe home for your money in these increasingly austere times.
If you’re in the enviable position of not having to worry unduly about the finer detail of your disposable income, the 6 Series Convertible looks well positioned. Less porcine than a Bentley Continental GTC, far fresher than a Mercedes SL and guaranteed to be better screwed together than a Maserati Gran Cabrio, it’s hard not to see it continuing BMW’s record of success.