Faster, lighter, and more cutthroat

The BMW 6 Series was first introduced in 1976 as a replacement for the E9 Coupe. The original 6 Series production run lasted more than a dozen years, eventually seeing the axe in 1989. After an extended period on the shelf, the nameplate made its return in 2003, offered as a stopgap for the discontinued 8 Series. A third generation would follow in 2011, and now, it’s looking like a fourth gen is just around the corner. Originally speculated to receive a downsize to help it fight the Porsche 911, it’s now believed the new 6 Series will continue on as a quick but comfortable GT car. The revelation arrives alongside new spy shots, which show us a possible 6 Series mule undergoing what appears to be the final testing phase on public streets. Under the skin is expected a new, lightened chassis, while the recently unveiled 5 Series provides the powerplant selection. New tech will adorn the cabin, and the styling looks to get a refresh as well.

It’s also possible that what we’re seeing here is in fact the new 8 Series, the large-and-in-charge full-size slated to compete against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe and upcoming Audi A9 coupe. However, this tester is looking a little too small for that, but not small enough to beat the 911, leading us to believe its business as usual for the 6 Series.

Details are still up in the air at this point, but read on for our take on what the new 6 Series will bring to the table.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 BMW 6 Series.

  • 2018 BMW 6 Series
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    347
  • Displacement:
    3.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    77000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Spy Shots

November 7, 2016 - First testing session

Exterior

The 6 Series has always been a rather handsome automobile. It’s a thick slab of German engineering, with a stance that’s wide and low, looking the part of a grand tourer to a tee. Judging by these spy shots, it looks like those characteristics will continue onwards for the fourth-generation model.

Up top, the roof appears to offer a more angled approach as it slants towards the rear end, giving the car an attractive fastback profile. In back is the suggestion of a trailing spoiler with a slight upturn on the deck lid.

Aesthetically speaking, we’re expecting the same BMW design language as before. The distinctive kidney grille in the nose looks wider than before, and will likely receive active shudders for enhanced aerodynamics. Further changes will include slimmer headlights and revamped taillights, although the taillights on this test mule don’t look they are the final production-ready units. Up top, the roof appears to offer a more angled approach as it slants towards the rear end, giving the car an attractive fastback profile. In back is the suggestion of a trailing spoiler with a slight upturn on the deck lid, which may or may not extend upwards for more downforce with new active aero.

Dimensionally, the car looks to be a little smaller than before. It’s still definitely a mid-size offering, but it’s not quite as beefy as it was previously. It’s also possible Bimmer is pulling a fast one on us, and installed extended exterior panels to hide an even slimmer body underneath, which would further emphasize the car’s position in the lineup as a sportier model underneath the forthcoming 8 Series.

It’s believed the new-gen 6 Series will carry the chassis code G14, G15, and G16, replacing the outgoing model’s designation of F12, F13, and F06, respectively. That means we should expect three body styles, including a convertible, two-door coupe, and four-door Gran Coupe. Per tradition, the coupe should be the first model out the gates, with the convertible and Gran Coupe following roughly six to eight months afterwards.

However, rumor has it the 6 Series Gran Coupe might get replaced by a grand touring iteration of the 5 Series, although that seems unlikely considering the 5 Series GT cars aren’t quite aggressive enough to adequately replace a 6 Series GC. The other alternative is that BMW will reveal a larger 8 Series coupe, effectively cancelling the 6 Series GC altogether.

Interior

The cabin layout in the new 6 Series will most likely get a fresh dash and design scheme, with swooping lines and curves that lend it a futuristic, i8-esque vibe. High on the dash will be a central display screen, most likely around 10 inches in diameter, while below will be vents for the climate control. The hard buttons will be kept to a minimum, but there will be the usual gear shifter and rotating infotainment control knob on the central tunnel.

2015 BMW i8 High Resolution Interior
- image 522671
Updated interior with i8-exclusive design
Features should include a larger infotainment screen, new instrument cluster, and sports seats

Note: BMW i8 interior shown here.

In terms of materials and trim, expect all the usual good stuff, like Alcantara, leather, aluminum, and wood accents.

In terms of materials and trim, expect all the usual good stuff, like Alcantara, leather, aluminum, and wood accents. More comfort can be had with highly adjustable electric seats with both heating and ventilation functions, plus a massage feature.

Technology should include advanced navigation systems, a heads-up display, Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. High-end audio will come courtesy of Harmon Kardon. One of the coolest features will be advanced gesture control, as equipped on the latest generation of the 5 Series. Further options for tech and comfort will be plentiful.

Also expect a good deal of semi-autonomous convenience features, like self-parking, adaptive cruise control, and autonomous braking, among others.

Step up to the sportier M6 model, and you’ll likely get the usual round of M division, go-fast inspired goodies. Carbon fiber trim is the first obvious addition, plus highly bolstered sports seats, a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, and very grippy pedals. There should also be motorsports-inspired apps to track your performance on a racing circuit, should you decide to hit some apexes on the weekend.

Drivetrain

Under the hood, it’s expected the new BMW 6 Series will get the same powerplant lineup as the new 5 Series, although options will probably exclude any ICE-only four-bangers. That means the 6 Series will get the same turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder from the 540i, with buttery smooth acceleration and a delicious metallic rasp from the twin tailpipes. Output should peak at about 350 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque.

2018 BMW 6 Series Exterior Spyshots
- image 694213
But as you probably expect, the boss of them all will be the M6, which will throw two turbos on that 4.4-liter V-8 for upwards of 600 horsepower.

Across the pond, buyers will get the option for a straight-six that sips on diesel and gets boosted by a single turbo to around 330 horsepower. Finally, after launch, BMW will probably add a 4.4-liter V-8 making around 475 horsepower. It’s even possible there will be a plug-in hybrid, which will be the only four-cylinder on offer, with a little electric motivation for emission-free motoring at a limited range, plus highly efficient mileage when dipping into the fuel tank.

But as you probably expect, the boss of them all will be the M6, which will throw two turbos on that 4.4-liter V-8 for upwards of 600 horsepower.

More grip can be had with the optional xDrive AWD system, but RWD will come as the standard appointment.

Combined with a lighter curb weight (see the following Chassis And Handling section for more info), the new 6 Series should be both faster and more efficient than before. And that’s a good thing.

Chassis And Handling

To help underline its sporting intentions, the new 6 Series should be quite a bit lighter and stiffer than the preceding model. While it’ll need to cut an enormous amount of weight if it ever hopes to compete against the likes of the Porsche 911 (something around half a ton sounds about right for that goal), it’s more likely to shed, at most, around 200 to 250 pounds in this upcoming generational changeover.

2018 BMW 6 Series Exterior Spyshots
- image 694212
This modular architecture emphasizes fewer and more versatile sub-models, and incorporates additional high-strength steel sections, plus exotic materials like carbon fiber, magnesium, and titanium, not to mention copious aluminum alloys.

A lot of the diet will be tied to the new platform and architecture. The new 6 Series will likely utilize the updated OKL modular platform, shared with the revamped 5 Series. This modular architecture emphasizes fewer and more versatile sub-models, and incorporates additional high-strength steel sections, plus exotic materials like carbon fiber, magnesium, and titanium, not to mention copious aluminum alloys.

More cornering prowess will be added thanks to shorter overhangs, a wider track, and a lower center of gravity. There will also be multiple driving modes to choose from, adaptive suspension on the options list, and high-end M-branded brakes. Expect even beefier components on the race-ready M6.

Whether or not these updates will transform the car from heavyweight cruiser to lap-time bruiser remains to be seen, but either way, it should be a relatively interesting ride in the twisty bits.

Prices

The current base model 6 Series retails for $77,600, but we expect that number to rise a bit with the new generational changeover. Dive a little too deeply into the options list, and expect the bottom line to increase substantially. Opt for the top trim, and you could be paying as much as $100,000.

The new BMW 6 Series is expected to make its big public reveal in early to mid 2017, with sales commencing in 2017 or early 2018.

Competition

Porsche Panamera

2014 Porsche Panamera High Resolution Exterior
- image 500640

Say what you will about the way the Panamera looks, how expensive it is, or all the ridiculous special editions it’s spawned; the bottom line is, it’s fast and it sells well. For a little under $80,000, you get a vehicle that combines the performance of a high-end sports car with the utility of a five-door hatchback. For an extra hundred grand, you can opt for the Turbo S model, which comes packing with 911-like performance from a 570-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8. Combining that mill with all-wheel drive can yield a sprint to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, plus a top speed of 192 mph. There’s also Porsche Active Suspension Management that adapts settings to road conditions based on three different drive modes (“Comfort”, “Sport”, and “Sport Plus”). True to Porsche form, the ceramic, race-style brakes work wonders in slowing all that speed. If this is the car BMW wanted to test against the new 6 Series, it had better come prepared.

Read more about the Porsche Panamera here.

Audi S7

2015 Audi S7 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 553145

To me, Audi is the ever-present option of practicality. That being said, the S7 is still quite fast. Under the hood is 450 horsepower from a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8, which means 60 mph arrives in just over four seconds, and top speed is rated at 155 mph. The standard quattro all-wheel-drive system is a leader in its class, the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission is quick and sharp, and the interior is every bit as luxurious and spacious as the cabin of the Bimmer. We even think it looks just as good, with understated lines that do a lot with a little. For about $84,000, you get loads of standard equipment, sufficient speed, discreet style, and a decent spoonful of practicality. On several levels, the Audi just makes a lot of sense.

Find out more about the Audi S7 here.

Conclusion

2018 BMW 6 Series Exterior Spyshots
- image 694223

Back in 2014, BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer told CAR that the 6 Series will be a “proper Porsche fighter and a car worthy of the brand’s DTM laurels.” Initially, it was thought this hinted at something to compete against the 911, but after looking at these spy shots, we’re thinking that a Panamera fighter is a better guess.

One of the car’s greatest strengths is the way it pairs relatively quick performance with comfort and style, matching ‘Bahn-storming performance with an effortless driving experience. To take on the mighty 911, the 6 Series would need a serious revamp, and even then, the end result might not be as refined as Stuttgart’s darling coupe.

But that isn’t to say BMW shouldn’t work on the performance of the 6 Series. A lighter, stiffer chassis is a great place to start, and if you pair that with the Bavarian’s latest tech offerings, you end up with a very attractive package.

Judging from these spy shots, it’s looking like we won’t have to wait too much longer for some official info. Stay tuned.

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    • * Not exactly a cheap proposition, especially with options
    • * Heavy competition from all sides
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