The current 6 Series goes well beyond that worthy ancestor, incorporating a muscular V-8 engine, some of BMW’s most advanced chassis technology, luxury and safety features that were unheard-of in the Eighties, and the availability of a Convertible as well as a Coupe.
For 2006, the 6 Series features a new, more powerful engine; new standard equipment and options; and significant technical and esthetic refinements.
For the new model year, the models are the newly powered and named 650i Coupe, at 72495$ including destination charge; and the 650i Convertible at 79495$. (Gas Guzzler taxes apply to some versions.) Each is powered by a new 4.8-liter, 360-hp Valvetronic V8 that is also winning hearts and minds in the ‘06 750i/Li and 550i models.
Here’s an overview of what is new for ‘06:
Performance & efficiency
- 4.8-liter V-8 engine, up from 4.4-liter; 360 hp vs. previous 325, 360 lb-ft. torque vs. 330
- Active Steering now available as stand-alone option; no longer in Sport Package
- Dynamic Stability Control with expanded range of functions (DSC8+)
- New standard 18-in. Wheels, Double Spoke design, W-rated performance tires, differentiated front/rear wheel and tire sizes
Exterior design & function
- New metallic colors: Monaco Blue replaces Mystic Blue, Barbera Red replaces Chiaretto Red Ergonomics, luxury & convenience
- New interior contrast color: Black replaces former Basalt Gray with all color schemes
- Start/Stop button
- iDrive controller newly shaped, has leather insert
- Vehicle preparation for Sirius Satellite Radio becomes standard
- High Definition Radio
- Night Vision (as of March 2006 production)
- Comfort Access (as of March 2006 production)
Since “6” falls between “5” and “7,” it will not surprise that this sport Series has some relation to the 5 and 7 Series. Yet it is anything but a mere re-bodying of either of these sedans. For a perspective on how the “6“ fits into the upper end of the BMW line, consider the following:
- Compared to the 5 Series, the 6 rides on a wheelbase 4.3 in. shorter, yet is almost as long thanks to the 6’s long-hood, cabin-back proportions. Compared to the 750i, the 6 Series wheelbase is 8.3 in. shorter, reflecting the contrast between the 7’s large, commodious sedan format and the 6’s more intimate, sporting Coupe/Convertible character.
- A notably wide rear track and low height visually express the 6 Series’ sporty handling attributes.
- No sheet metal is shared with either the 5 or 7 Series.
- BMW’s most extensive use of weight-saving body materials in regular-production models results in impressive weight efficiency.
- Though all three Series use the Valvetronic V-8 engine, the 650i Coupe achieves the best acceleration because it is the lightest of the V-8 models.
- Like the 550i but not the 7 Series, both 650i models are available with all three BMW transmission types: manual, STEPTRONIC automatic and Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). All are 6-speeds.
- Whereas the 5 and 7 Series Sedans are full 5-seaters, the 650i models are 2+2s, with generous front seating space and intimate, yet inviting “occasional” rear seating.
- Thanks in part to standard run-flat tires, the 650i Coupe provides almost as much trunk space as the 550i Sedan; the Convertible trunk, with its variable softtop storage compartment, is also relatively spacious for a car with a folding top.
Under the new 650i models’ aluminum hood is a further evolution of the technologically advanced and unique N62 V-8 engine that powered the former 645Ci models. As such, this power unit continues with BMW’s revolutionary Valvetronic system, which controls engine power by varying valve lift instead of relying on a conventional throttle. Compared to conventional valvegear, Valvetronic enhances torque, power and efficiency - and now increased displacement further boosts torque and power.
Indeed, the new 650 engine achieves even greater specific power than its predecessor: With 9.1% more displacement (it’s up from 4.4 to 4.8 liters), power is up 35 hp (10.8%) from 325 to 360 hp. Likewise, its torque curve is richer; the new, higher torque peak of 360 lb-ft. (up from 330) occurs at 3400 rpm, down 200 rpm from the predecessor.
Beyond these objective data, though, the more readily experienced advance here is added urge virtually anytime the driver presses down on the accelerator pedal, especially at midrange speeds. Of the same new engine in the ’06 750i, Edmunds.com commented that It’s refined and athletic just like the old 4.4, but its torque band seems to go on forever.
In one respect, the new engine has been simplified. The previous version had a fully variable induction system, capable of varying the induction passages’ length steplessly from minimum to maximum - certainly an optimum solution, and a very elaborate one, for achieving strong performance in all rpm ranges. With the new engine’s increased displacement boosting torque, BMW’s engine engineers simplified the induction system to 2 stages, one for low to medium engine speeds, the other for high engine speeds.
The 6 Series‘ exhaust system is specially engineered to lend the V-8 engine an extra-sporty note. Actuated by engine vacuum in response to engine speed and load as well as the gear currently engaged, a movable element in the right-hand resonator is programmed to achieve the sportiest, most pleasurable engine sound within the overall legal exterior-noise limit.
The standard transmission is the heavier-duty version of two new 6-speeds recently introduced. Compared to the 6-speed used in M3 models, it is lighter, and yet robust enough to handle the more abundant torque of the V-8 engine.
6-speed STEPTRONIC automatic. This combination of torque converter and 6-speed gearbox is plenty sporty - as demonstrated by a 0-60-mph time only a tenth of a second less quick than for the manual transmission or SMG. As with all other current BMW automatics, the S (Sport) mode moves shift points upward to higher engine speeds for sportier feel and response. The M (Manual) mode enables the driver to up- or downshift at will, imparting some of the sportiness of a manual transmission. Driver-controlled up- and downshifts are effected by “tipping” the shift lever rearward or forward.
Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG): the “third way” of driving. This is an electrohydraulically shifted and clutched, electronically controlled version of the 6-speed manual transmission; as such it is utterly different from a conventional automatic. There is no clutch pedal; the driver selects the desired mode (N, R, D, S) with a console-mounted selector lever, and can execute manual shifts via that lever or two “paddles” on the steering wheel. SMG’s fundamental advantages are that it fully preserves the performance of a manual transmission while facilitating both automated and very sporty driving.