The 6 Series Convertible will be up for a generational shift in the near future

The BMW 6 Series is currently in its third-generation and went through a minor update for the 2015 model year. Just recently our photographers caught the next-gen 6 Series Coupe doing some real world testing, and just weeks later, we finally got our hands on shots of the next-gen 6 Series Convertible. The exterior of the next-gen model will change a little to freshen things up, but the real news is what’s happening below the skin. The new 6 Series is expected to shed a few pounds in the chassis department, get some new technology on the inside, and get a healthy selection of powerplants that will produce enough power to keep competing models like the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet and the Audi S5 Cabriolet at bay.

But, the 6 Series has one major problem, and that’s its starting price point. While similar offerings from the likes of Mercedes and Audi start out in the $60,000 range, the 6 Series starts out closer to $90,000. That’s a hard sell in any market, but with the next-gen model expected to debut as a 2018 model, it will at least be fresh inside and out, and will hopefully come out of the gate a little quicker thanks to that lighter chassis. We still have a while to wait before we get to see the new 6 Series in the metal, but let’s take a good look at the first round of spy shots and talk a little more about what’s coming in 2018.

Update 01/18/2017: The upcoming 6 Series convertible was caught taking advantage of the cold weather and got to play in the snow a bit. Check out our review below to see the newest spy shots and to see what else we know about the next-gen 6 Series.

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

Playing in the Snow 1-18-2017

2018 BMW 6 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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2018 BMW 6 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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2018 BMW 6 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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2018 BMW 6 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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This is one of those situations where BMW is simply putting the car through the paces in colder weather to see how it holds up and how it performs. So, the newest spy shots don’t yield anything interesting as far as any new changes or what we’ll see when BMW finally drops the camo, but it does look like it might be just a bit smaller than the outgoing model, so it’s not likely that BMW will call it the 8 Series as some sources and rumors are indicating. With the car shown here expected to be a 2018 model, it will likely debut in the next six months, so we don’t really have much longer to wait to get a real good look at it. So, with that said, stay tuned for updates – we’ll bring them to you as soon as we can.

Exterior

There’s no denying that the 6 Series is a hot (and expensive) commodity in the automotive market. And, with that kind of reputation, it’s not likely BMW will change much with the new generation. Sure, there will be some changes – the corner air intakes will take on a new design, exterior lighting will change a bit, and the side view mirrors will probably get a little smaller, but don’t expect anything too drastic. In the spy shots we have here, the new convertible is clearly sporting a face fascia, grille, and headlights. I’m not sure what’s going on in between the two grille openings, but apparently, BMW thought that would throw us off. All told, the front end of the new 6 Series is expected to get slightly wider kidney grilles, sleeker and slimmer headlights, and other minor restyling. When it comes to the hood, this test mule hints to a slight change in the direction of the body lines. On the current 6 Series, the inner body lines curve toward the nose and kind of point at the BMW emblem. On this mule, those inner lines have been straightened out. This could just be a visual gimmick, however, so take that with a grain of salt.

The corner air intakes will take on a new design, exterior lighting will change a bit, and the side view mirrors will probably get a little smaller, but don’t expect anything too drastic.

Moving over to the side profile, don’t expect anything to change at all. The current 6 Series is rather mundane as for as side styling goes, and this test mule hints that those mundane looks will carry over. We can make out a light body line down toward the bottom of the doors, and another that runs from the outer corner of the headlights back to the rear. Like the current model, that upper body line passes through the center of the door handle. It looks like the wheel arches aren’t quite as flared on this model in comparison to the current model, which could ultimately result in the next-gen 6 Series looking a little blander and losing that look of width. The one major important thing to note here is that the rear quarters are a little taller on this model, leading to the waist line being a little more upswept to the rear as opposed to being flat like we see on the current model.

Around back is where some real change takes place. The top of the current model has a window that sits upright, while the outer corners of the top extend farther back and come to rather sharp points at the rear deck lid. This new model goes with more of a conventional look with the rear window slanted, and the lower end rounded to follow the contour of the cabin. This could change by the time the car goes into production, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. It would be considered toned down compared to the current look, but I suspect it may be a welcome change. The rear decklid looks to be almost identical, but the rear taillights will likely change a bit. Like the headlights, they should be a little smaller, and if the test units here are any indication, we may see all-clear lenses. The license plate recess sits a little higher on the mule, giving the rear fascia a weird, flat appearance in the middle. Down below the exhaust outlets are integrated into the rear fascia instead of sitting underneath it and are about 50- to 60-percent larger.

The Competition

2014 Mercedes E-Class Convertible
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2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet High Resolution Exterior
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As far as competition goes, the BMW 6 Series kind of fits in its own little niche. It’s a midsize convertible, but it’s considerably more expensive than other convertibles like the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet and the Audi S5 Cabriolet. One could argue that it competes with the Mercedes SL Roadster as that starts out around $87,000, but it’s a two-seater, and that really appeals to a different demographic. Moving our attention back to the E-Class Convertible, it’s got a sleek and stylish design that screams sports car. The radiator grill is well pronounced, as are the air dam and corner air intakes. Unlike the design of the current 6 Series, there is a hexagonal mesh providing the backdrop to all of the openings on the Mercedes. Powerful body lines create a sculpted, muscular look for the wheel arches, while the gently sloped lower body line gives the car a sense of height and length. The rear end of the E-Class is more traditional (and similar to what we see in the 6 Series mule above) while the taillights are large and colored. The rear fascia is characterized by a small diffuser unit with integrated exhaust outlets and a mesh insert that runs the width of the fascia just above it.

Then there’s the Audi S5 Cabriolet. Despite the fact that the tall top is fairly upright in the rear, giving the car a roadster-like appearance from certain angles, this baby does have a back seat. The current model features Audi’s updated and massive grille up front to go with a baby air dam below and large cutouts on each corner that pretend to be corner air intakes. They are simply covered by a black plastic with a honeycomb design. It does feature LED fog lights in each corner, however, so it does have that going for it. The side profile of the S5 Cabrio is sleek, and the wavy upper body line makes the rest of the bodywork just flow together. The wheel arches are nowhere near as muscular as those on the Mercedes and look quite similar to what we might see on the next-gen 6 Series. Around back, the S5 has a rear end that is similar to that of the Mercedes. There are large, colored taillight lenses, and a diffuser-like element at the bottom. The exhaust parts are integrated into the diffuser on the S5 as well, but instead of having a single exhaust outlet, the S5 makes use of dual pipes.

When it comes to looks, the Mercedes is really the most aggressive offering, so if you’re looking for something a little more gritty, it’s definitely the one you want to go for. The S5 is a little toned down in comparison, but is quite pleasing to look at and has those unique body lines that make it stand out in the crowd. For the price, either are a better option than the 6 Series, but we’ll see how the production model looks once all the camo comes off. BMW just might surprise us.

Mercedes E-Class Convertible Audi S5 Cabriolet BMW 6 Series Convertible
Wheelbase (inches) 108.7 108.3 TBA
Overall length (inches) 185.0 182.7 TBA
Overall height (inches) 55.0 54.2 TBA
Overall width (inches) 79.3 79.5 TBA

Interior

The inside of the new 6 Series Convertible should mirror that of the coupe. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten a good look at the inside of either test mule, so we will speculate a bit… for now. Expect to see the cabin take on a fresh redesign that will bring it more into the modern times. And with a $90,000 price tag, you can bet there will be healthy doses of Alcantara, leather, polished aluminum, and fine wood available. Honestly, it’s quite possible that BMW will go the extra mile and give the new 6 Series a more futuristic cabin like that of the BMW i8. A two-tier dash with a large (possible 10-inch) display atop sounds pretty nice and the center console will be toned down to include fewer buttons and more touch sensitive controls. Seats will be power adjustable, have heating and cooling, and should get the massage feature to help you relax after a long day at the office.

2015 BMW i8 High Resolution Interior
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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.

It’s quite possible that BMW will go the extra mile and give the new 6 Series a more futuristic cabin like that of the BMW i8.

Expect to see some semi-autonomous features like automatic parking, adaptive cruise control, and emergency braking. On the technology front, expect to get (or at least have the option for) an advanced navigation system with heads-up display. Phone connectivity will be available via Apple CarPlay and USB, while a Wi-Fi hotspot should also be available. The audio system will likely be supplied by Harmon Kardon while the new 6 Series will also get advanced gesture control, just like the new 5 Series.

Competing Comfort

2014 Mercedes E-Class Convertible Interior
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2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet High Resolution Interior
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2016 BMW 6 Series Convertible High Resolution Interior
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The interior of the current 6 Series isn’t horrible, but it isn’t great either. Take the Mercedes E-Class Convertible, for example. A two-tier dash supports an all-new instrument cluster and infotainment display for 2017 and features a two-tone look that contrasts dark and light colors. Lower trim levels get an instrument cluster with analog gauges and a seven-inch display, while upper trim levels get a fully digital, 12.3-inch display that matches that of the infotainment display next to it. The important thing to remember about the E-Class is that the features in the cabin are catered to the driver. Technology includes touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, voice control, and LED lighting that can be had in no less than 64 colors. Leather and wood inserts are available to give the cabin that upscale look, while a Burmester sound system with 23 speakers is available for the right price.

Deciding to go with the Audi S5 will afford you luxuries like a flat bottom steering wheel, a floating infotainment display, ambient lighting, brushed aluminum pedals, partial leather seats, and an optional virtual cockpit. As with other models in this segment, the S5 Cabriolet gets its fair share of nice materials, including wooden inserts. And, believe it or not, there’s 13.4 cubic-feet of cargo space. Top range trims come complete with things like Audi Connect, MMI navigation Plus, an 8.3-inch display, DVD drive, 10 GB of flash memory, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system that pairs 755 Watts of power with 19 speakers. All told, the S5 is another strong proposition to the 6 Series, especially when you go with the upper trim levels.

All told, the BMW 6 Series does ultimately cost more in entry-level form, but as far as interior amenities go, you really have to go with the higher trim levels of its competitors – or select the right option boxes – to get something equal all the way around. So, you might pay more to get into a 6 Series, but you’ll end up paying close to the same amount to get the same features in a higher-range model. Finally, the pricing of the 6 Series starts to make a little sense.

Mercedes E-Class Convertible Audi S5 Cabriolet BMW 6 Series Convertible
Headroom front/rear (inches) 36.8/35.5 40.0/36.3 TBA
Legroom front/rear (inches) 42.0/30.1 41.3/31.9 TBA
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 54.1/47.8 54.3/46.8 TBA

Drivetrain

2018 BMW 6 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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As is the case with the current 6 Series Convertible, it will likely come in two different trims here in the U.S. The 640i and 640i xDrive should get a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, inline-six while the 650i and 650i xDrive should get a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo, V-8. In the current model, the 3.0-liter delivers 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, while the 4.4-liter delivers a cool 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet. With that said, we’re expecting the new-gen model to get a bump up in power all the way around, so the 3.0-liter will likely be massaged to deliver something in the range of 350 horsepower and 340 pound-feet, and the 4.0-liter could see an output increase to the tune of 475 horsepower and 500 pound-feet. Shifting duties for each engine are handled by an eight-speed “sport” automatic transmission. xDrive models also get all-wheel drive, while non-xDrive models are stuck with rear-wheel drive.

Next-gen 640i models should be able to hit the 60-mph sprint in about 5.2 seconds (a 0.1-second decrease) while the 650i models should make the same sprint in around 4.4 seconds. Top speed will naturally be limited to 155 mph. Fuel economy should remain the same across the board, so expect the 640 to pull around 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. The 650i, on the other hand, should achieve 17,24,and 19, respectively. The Chassis of the 6 Series is also expected to shed somewhere around 200 or 250 pounds, so that should help in the fuel economy and performance department as well. It should also be noted that the 6 Series could see a plug-in hybrid model with this generation which may also be available on convertible models as well.

The Competition

If you care about power output and performance more than looks, then you’ll find that you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck if you look to the 6 Series’ competition. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get more power. Take the E-Class Cabriolet for example. It, like the current 6 Series, is available in two trim levels. The E400 makes us of a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, V-6 that delivers a decent 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the E550 is powered by a 4.7-liter, turbocharged, V-8 that delivers 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy for the 3.0-liter comes in at 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway while the 4.7-liter drops down to 17 and 26, respectively. On the performance front, the entry-level E-class can hit the 60-mph sprint in 6.3 seconds while the range-topping model does it in just five seconds flat. Compared to the 6 Series, the E-class is a bit slower, but then again that extra second will cost you $30,000 in the 6 Series as well. Like I said, more bang for your buck.

The Audi S5 is a completely different animal really. It’s only available in one trim and with one engine here in the States. You get a 3.0-liter gasoline unit that delivers 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The engine is light-weight, though, as it makes use of an aluminum block and cylinder head. Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the S5 Cabriolet can hit 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and tops out at an electronically limited and very German 155 mph. On the fuel economy front, you can expect to get 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. Again, the S5 is significantly cheaper that the 6 Series and provides more power compared to the 640i. It will lose in the 60-mph sprint by 0.1 seconds, but you’re still paying 30 grand less, so it’s really not all that bad.

Mercedes E-Class Convertible Audi S5 Cabriolet BMW 640i Convertible BMW 650i Convertible
Engine 3.0-liter V6 biturbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, inline-six 4.4-liter Twinpower Turbo V-8
Horsepower 329 HP @5,250 - 6,000 RPM 333 HP @ 5,500-6,500 RPM 315 HP @ 5,800 RPM 445 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 354 LB-FT @ 1,600-4,000 RPM 325 LB-FT @ 2,900-5,300 RPM 330 LB-FT @ 1,300–4,500 RPM 480 LB-FT @ 2,000–4,500 RPM
Transmission 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic Seven-speed S tronic 8-speed Sport Automatic 8-speed Sport Automatic
EPA city/highway/combined 20/29 18/26/21 20/29/23 17/24/19
0 to 60 mph 6.3 seconds 5.3 seconds 5.4 seconds 4.5 seconds
Top speed 155 mph 155 mph 130 mph 130 mph
Curb weight 4,145 Lbs 4,310 Lbs 4,250 Lbs 4,490 Lbs

Note: Current BMW 6 Series models listed here.

Prices

Compared to the cars it competes with, the 6 Series is already heavily overpriced anyway. In entry-level, convertible form, you’ll be asked to pony up at least $85,100. Meanwhile, the 650i commands $96,500. Going with all-wheel drive will add an extra $3,000 to each model. With that said, I wouldn’t expect pricing to go up much at all, and will likely remain about the same. With models like the Audi S5 and Mercedes E-Class starting out significantly cheaper, it’s pure brand loyalty that really keeps the 6 Series going, so if you’re new to this segment, don’t think twice about going with either competitor – you definitely get more for your money all the way around.

BMW 640i Convertible $85,100
BMW 640i xDrive Convertible $88,100
BMW 640i Convertible $96,500
BMW 650i xDrive Convertible $99,500
Audi S5 Convertible $61,100
Mercedes E400 Cabriolet $62,600

Note: Current BMW 6 Series models listed here.

Competition

Mercedes SL Roadster

2017 Mercedes Benz SL-Class
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There is one other vehicle tat competes with the 6 Series convertible in at least one way. That’s the Mercedes SL Roadster, and it’s an evil little car. The thing that really sets it apart, and why it isn’t considered a primary competitor is because it only offers seating for two. It is, however, sporty, powerful, fast, and well worth a look if you don’t need a back seat and were planning to spend $90,000 anyway. It’s actually available in four different trim levels, with the entry-level model – the SL450 – coming in at $86,950. In this form, it comes with a 3.0-liter V-6 that is massaged to deliver 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. 60 mph comes fast at just 4.9 seconds, while top speed is limited to the usual 155 mph. Then there’s the SL550 that utilizes the 4.7-liter V-8 with 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. 60 mph in this beast comes even quicker at just 4.3 seconds. This trim will set you back $110,800 at the time of this writing.

For those of you who are really wild, the AMG SL63 and SL65 come in at $151,250 and $219,850, respectively. The SL63 uses a 5.5-liter V-8 that produces a cool 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet while the SL65 uses a 6.0-liter with 621 ponies and 738 pound-feet. 60 mph comes in as quick as 4.0 seconds for the 63 and 3.9 seconds for the SL65. Obviously, these two models are well out of the range of anyone seriously considering a 6 Series, but the SL450 isn’t a bad option if you want a little more power, quick acceleration, and an alternative in the same price range. You’ve just got to be willing to give up the back seat!

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2018 BMW 6 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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At this point, we haven’t seen enough of the new 6 Series Convertible to really draw an accurate conclusion, but if BMW expects it to live on and not suffer another discontinuation, it really needs to step up its game or drop the price a bit. Comparable models from Mercedes and Audi are significantly cheaper and offer very similar power with just a minor drop in performance. The new 6 Series could benefit from a little bit of the BMW i8’s interior DNA and could end up with a more aggressive look in the front and rear. Hopefully, that will be the case, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. In the end, it will always be cheaper to go with an E-Class Cabriolet or an S5 Convertible, but there is also something about driving a BMW that you just can’t duplicate in any other model. Maybe it’s the overall feeling of the soul and pride that goes into building the car, or maybe it’s that everything seems to fit and feel just right. I can’t say for sure, but one thing is certain, you have a tough decision to make if it’s truly a toss-up in your opinion.

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