£65,435 - £78,100 Price range
31 - 50 MPG
The new 6 Series Convertible gets largely positive reviews. It may not look much different to the old one, but the experts all say it’s a much better car. It’s far more enjoyable to drive, has a choice of strong performing, efficient engines and a well-equipped interior.
In general, the convertible gets a better write-up that it’s coupe brother, where the slightly uninspiring driving dynamics are more of a problem than they are in a relaxed open-top cruiser.
There are very few complaints about the 6 Series interior – it’s a huge improvement over the previous model. Testers like the way the facia points towards the driver like a good BMW should, and the quality of materials is of a very high standard. Everything feels opulent, if maybe just a little too bland for a £65,000+ convertible.
Critics say the seats are comfortable, and with the roof down it remains an incredibly quiet and unruffled place to sit – there’s no raising of voices needed here. The rear seats are okay, but lack a little leg room. The fabric roof can be raised or lowered at speeds up to around 25mph.
Convertible cars sometimes suffer from scuttle shake, where the body flexes when cornering hard or going over bumps. No such problems here – reviewers say the 6-Series feels very solid, but not at the expense of the driving experience. It feels more nimble than the previous car, and naturally there’s high levels of grip.
Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. This is still no sports car, lacking the sort of connection you might like to feel through the steering. BMW’s Dynamic Drive system (automatically adjustable suspension, to you and me) allows you to pick between comfort, normal and sport modes.
It’s best to leave it in comfort or normal, as switching to sport causes the Six’s ride to feel more unsettled without managing to achieve any noticeable improvement to the handling. One tester sums up the driving experience succinctly, by describing it as “frustratingly aloof”.
There are only three engines to choose from in the 6-Series Convertible, but they’re all excellent. The ‘entry level’ petrol comes in the shape of the 3.0-litre turbocharged inline 6 in the slightly confusingly titled 640i. Producing 320hp, the engine is a smooth performer, with one tester describing it as “mellow voiced,” and that the strong torque it offers “suits the purpose of the car”.
The twin-turbo V8 650i adds a little extra power, but only improves on the performance figures marginally, at the expense of almost 9mpg in fuel economy. If efficiency is a bigger priority, then the 640d – a three-litre turbodiesel producing 313bhp – will be more your thing. Hardly any less powerful than the 640i petrol – but even more torquey – it delivers a highly impressive 50.4mpg on the combined cycle. Testers agree that the diesel’s all-round ability make it the best option for the 6 Series.
Whichever you choose, though, all three engines are easily powerful enough to make rapid progress, despite the car’s high weight. The only real complaint with any of them is that they’re quiet – for what in theory is a sporty car – that it detracts a little from the driving experience. All are very refined, so smoothness will never be a problem, while fuel-saving stop-start technology will save you a few quid at the fuel pumps.
All 6-Series use BMW’s slick 8-speed automatic gearbox. All the experts agree that it is an excellent transmission, which shifts smoothly, rarely gets caught out and generally suits the relaxed vibe of the car very well.
In old BMW nomenclature, something badged “40i” was easy to understand - it was a four-litre, naturally-aspirated V8. These days it’s a little more tricky, instead referring to a 3.0-litre, inline six with a turbocharger. It’s enough to put out 320bhp, which allows for plenty of performance - 5.7 seconds to 60mph, 155mph flat-out.
Testers say it’s a very smooth engine, with plenty of power and torque that allows for serene progress up to higher speeds. The engine even sounds good, with some of that straight-six howl characteristic to BMWs of old. Throw in economy 10mpg better than that of the larger, V8 650i - 35.8mpg combined, and £210 a year in road tax - and it should even offer decent running costs. That said, the diesel may be better for high-mileage drivers or those lucky enough to receive one as a company car.
While the smaller-engined 640i is recommended by several testers, there’s a lot to be said for having a creamy 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 sitting under the bonnet. It’s heavier than the 640i and therefore affects the handling a bit, but for some that’ll be made up in the even smoother feel and burble from the exhaust pipes. Testers say that at lower speeds, there’s barely any clue that something mechanical is happening a few feet away.
Instead, you’ll realise that mechanical process from the speeds you’re doing - power delivery is fairly effortless - and when filling up at the pumps, since you can only expect about 26.4mpg on average. Road tax is a little steep too at £445 a year. Still, that’s more economy than its predecessor offered so if you’re trading up, it may not seem too bad - but the other 6-Series are probably better all-rounders.
The 6-Series convertible is quite an expensive car, though it is still cheaper than its closest rival, the Mercedes-Benz SL. The Mercedes, though, is arguably the more luxurious and refined car.
You do get an awful lot of toys for the money with a 6 Series, but beware of the options list – prices can easily start to get silly once you get enthusiastic with the box ticking. Despite this, once you’ve considered the fuel economy on offer (from the diesel variant in particular) and residuals that remain strong for a car at this price point, and you have what is probably the best value car in this class.
If you’d rather not have any wind rushing through your hair, a 6-Series Coupe is also available. If you’d rather have more wind rushing through your hair, the BMW M6 Convertible offers up 552hp and 501lb-ft of barnet-ruffling shove.
This may be an expensive car, but testers say it finally feels like it too and justifies the price. Thanks to the shapely fabric roof, it is quite an attractive car, whether open or closed.
It’s no sports car, but instead a supremely capable grand tourer which offers relaxed, open-air motoring at the flick of a switch. That’ll appeal to plenty of buyers.