Don't blink or you'll miss it; the updated BMW 6-Series is more about price tweaks and added value than rewriting the $300k rule books
WHAT IS IT?
A mild update to BMW’s flagship sports car, the 6-Series. It applies to the Coupe, Gran Coupe (four-door) and Convertible.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
We had the chance for a quick spin ahead of its arrival in dealerships.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Audi A7
THE WHEELS VERDICT
More of a good thing, done slightly better. But start saving…
PLUS: Elegant cabin looks special; great roadholding; fantastic V8
MINUS: Heavy; 20-inch alloys don’t deal with small bumps well; expensive
THE WHEELS REVIEW
THERE aren't many four-doors these days with pillarless windows, but the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe is one. The sleek quad aperture 'coupe' that is the top seller of the trio of 6 Series body styles – siblings include a real Coupe and a Convertible – is all about making you feel special.
That's something it does brilliantly, from the scaled 7 Series interior to the lashings of gear, with this update bringing plenty of extra equipment. Active headlights with “Selective Beam” high beams block out other vehicles while retaining high beam, more active safety features (lane departure warning and self-parking) and digital radio also join the well-appointed leather-lined list of standard kit.
Then there’s the presentation. The digital instrument cluster is a class act, combining the adjustability of a colour screen with four real circular rings around the main gauges to bring it to all to life.
The centre stack is clean and refreshingly functional, teaming nicely with the broad colour screen and iDrive controller.
Existing 6 niggles remain. It's light-on for storage up front, limited to covered cup-holders and a long but shallow centre console. Even the door pockets are slim.
Rear seat occupants will be similarly constrained, while also putting up with minimal under-seat foot room and adult-welcoming head room. The high window line and low floor, while cementing the sporty flavour up front, do little for the comfort factor.
The Gran has five seats, but between the camel hump centre base and ventilation system joined to that rear pew it'd be a flexible and understanding participant who volunteered for the jump seat.
Visual changes outside are minimal; new bumpers and mildly revised kidney grilles are it, although the new hues (four paints previously reserved for the Individual options list) and M Sport 20-inch rims add to that specialness.
The price is pretty special, too. The range stretches from $177,900 for the 640i Coupe, also offered in the BMW 640i Convertible body style, to $308,600 for the M6 Convertible. That M6 line-up now picks up the Competition Pack standard, for 441kW (up 29kW) and 700Nm (up 20Nm), unique 20-inch wheels and tyres among other go-fast goodies.
Still, even the $238,900 ask for the 650i Gran Coupe we tested is a deep dig.
With its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 belching out 330kW and a hearty 650Nm, it also gets a new exhaust with more beef. Dial up the Sport mode and there's a pleasant rumble, yet still without the bark of an AMG.
Then again the 650i is the next tier down and is more about brisk touring and effortless punch than cutting hot laps.
For that the V8 does a superb job. It's loaded with torque anywhere in its rev range and spins freely. It's a beautiful engine and makes light work of any conditions.
The eight-speed auto is also a ripper, happily holding lower gears and leaning on that 650Nm when it makes sense, before darting down a couple of ratios to tap into the full 350Nm.
Our brief wet road drive had the stability control working hard up a snaking hill. Even at 70km/h it wanted help to contain the slipping and sliding, more an indication of the engine’s thrust than any traction issues.
Not that the 6 is lacking in cornering talent – far from it. The 20-inch wheels on our 650i held on well, while the direct steering and flat cornering stance cement the heavy (think 1.8 tonnes) five-seater as highly capable.
Less endearing is the way it deals with sharp bumps, even in its most sumptuous Comfort+ mode that softens the dampers, the low profile rubber catches most imperfections, something exacerbated once you dial up the firmer chassis by choosing Sport.
But Sport does bring much appreciated additional enthusiasm to the throttle thanks to a sharper feel. Combined with the weightier steering it's a machine that pampers through long, sweeping corners.
The breadth of ability of the 650i makes it a better everyday bet than the more focused, track-ready M6.
And if you see the interior more as snug than cramped – or you’re happy not to use them much – the Gran Coupe is a tempting alternative to BMW's flagship limousine.
Classy and quick, luxurious and slick. At a price.
Model: BMW 650i
Engine: 4395cc twin turbo V8
Max power: 330kW @ 5500-6000rpm
Max torque: 650Nm @ 2000-4500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto
Kerb weight: 1795kg
Fuel consumption: 8.6L/100km
On sale: Now