BMW launches New 6-Series as a Convertible

The BMW 6 Series Concept first appeared back in September, but of course everyone already knew this was as near as dammit to the actual production 6 Series Coupé due to go on sale in 2011.

Rather than launch it as a Coupé, BMW have chosen to initially launch the new 6 Series design as convertible – a somewhat unusual decision given that most of us are heading into winter, but the car won’t go on sale here in the UK until 26 March 2011, which should give enough time for the snow and ice to depart although it’s still unlikely to be the most encouraging weather for top-down motoring.

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In BMW’s introduction to this new 6 Series they hark back to their rich heritage of past models including the BMW 327 Coupé and Sports Convertible of the late 1930s and the BMW 503 Coupé and Convertible from the 1950s, but it’s the BMW 8 Series Coupé of the 1990s that we are most reminded of when we look at this new 6 Series.

From its long sweeping bonnet and set-back passenger compartment, this is more a modern interpretation of the classic 8 Series shape than its love-it-or-hate-it predecessor.

This new 6 Series is a far more fluid design, from the “shark nose”, with a large, forward-slanted BMW kidney grille, broad air intakes, wide, contoured bonnet and muscular wheel arches sweeping through to the unique rear fins of the soft-top.

The new 6 Series’ powerfully contoured roof, set-back passenger compartment with Hofmeister kink, long wheelbase and flat waistline embody the the key design DNA of the BMW marque.

[/two_columns] [two_columns_last ]BMW 503 Convertible and 3200 CS Convertible

BMW 503 Convertible (top) and BMW 3200 CS Convertible (bottom).

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The multi-layer roof – which has been optimised once again in terms of its acoustic properties, thermal insulation and structural rigidity – uses these fins projecting out along the flanks of into the rear section, to accentuate the car’s gracefully sweeping silhouette even more elegantly than on its predecessor. This means the transition from roofline into the boot is achieved as smoothly as on a coupé. It also means that the upright, heated, glass rear window positioned behind the rear seats can be lowered separately from the roof.

The automatic opening and closing operation for the roof is activated as standard using a button on the centre console, opening in 19 seconds, with closing taking just 24 seconds. Both operations can be activated while on the move at speeds of up to 25mph and the Comfort Access option allows the roof to be opened or closed using the remote control button on the car key.

More space inside?

Anyone who has ridden as a passenger in the outgoing 6 Series will know that it was little more than a 2-seater, the rear compartment lacking both head and leg room for anyone much older than 12-years old.

BMW claims there to be more leg and headroom in the rear of the new 6 Series, but enough to function as a full 4 seater? We'll soon see...

BMW claim that the new 6 Series now offers “luxury for four”, offering greater headroom in both the front and the rear – given how sleek the new design looks, we’ll reserve judgement until we can actually sit in one – it’s disappointing to find, when upgrading from a 3 Series, that the larger coupé makes concessions for style at the expense of usable interior space.

Familiar power plants

The new BMW 6 Series Convertible is available from launch with two petrol engines: the 650i and 640i. Both offer unique character from their respective V8 and inline six-cylinder engines through the use of twin and single turbocharger technology to produce even more responsiveness and flexibility.

The new BMW 650i Convertible uses the familiar 401 bhp 4.4-litre eight-cylinder engine with its unique brace of turbochargers positioned in the V-shaped area between the cylinder banks. The 315 bhp six-cylinder engine in the new BMW 640i Convertible uses single turbocharger technology alongside petrol direct injection with Valvetronic fully variable valve control. Both models top out at a speed-limited 155 mph, with the 650i Convertible covering the 0-62mph increment in 5.0 seconds compared to 5.7 seconds for the 640i Convertible.

Where the 640i Convertible usurps its more powerful sibling is in fuel efficiency – achieving 35.8mpg on the combined cycle, while CO2 emissions are only 185g/km, proving that at BMW sporting performance does not come at the expense of economy.

Specifications and availability

The new BMW 6 Series Convertible comes with the highest ever level of standard specification on a Six. Standard for the 640i Convertible are 18-inch light alloy wheels, while the 650i Convertible comes as standard with a 19-inch light alloy wheel. Both derivatives feature Dakota leather upholstery, eight-speed Sport automatic transmission, electric seat adjustment, BMW Professional Multimedia Navigation system, Xenon headlights, LED front fog lights and front and rear Park Distance Control to name but a few of the standard specification highlights.

No prices have been released at this stage, but the BMW 6 Series Convertible will go on sale in the UK on 26 March, 2011.