BMW's 6 Series, which is available as a fixed-roof coupe or a convertible with a power rear window, gets a more powerful engine, new standard equipment and options, and a host of technical and esthetic refinements for 2006. In May, the high-performance 500-hp M6 version was introduced.
BMW's 6 Series has a remarkable heritage that spans more than 75 years. The lineage began with the famous 327 model in the late 1930s. It continued with the historic 503 of 1956 and the Bertone-designed 3200 CS of the early 1960s. Then, in 1977, the 3.0 CS made its American debut, and the lineup continued with the 635Csi of the 1980s. BMW built an 8 Series (840 and 850) coupe in the 1990s, and returned to the segment in 2004 with the sleek and sporty new 6 Series.
Though only in its third model year, the 6 Series undergoes several updates and upgrades for 2006, including a larger and more powerful V-8 engine, expanded Dynamic Stability Control technology, larger 18-inch wheels, new exterior and interior colors, one-button vehicle start/stop technology, and optional high-definition radio, and active steering features.
The 325-hp, 4.4L V-8 engine has been replaced by a 360-hp, 4.8L motor, thus the new name for the 6 Series models, the 650i coupe and convertible. The engine can be linked to a choice of three transmissions: a six-speed manual, a Steptronic automatic, or a Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) that allows shifting with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel (but does not feature a traditional clutch pedal), just like in Formula One racing cars. While the 6 Series shares this engine with the 550i and 750i sedans, the 6 Series is faster from a standing start to 60 miles per hour, achieving this benchmark in as little as 5.3 seconds. This is because the 6 Series features BMW's most extensive use of weight-saving materials to date, including the use of aluminum for the drive shaft and in the braking hardware. Standard equipment on this model includes Active Roll Stabilization technology, a suspension system that significantly reduces body roll when cornering.
The 650i convertible features a power top with flying buttresses that frame a powered rear-facing window. The 6 Series seats four with standard leather seating surfaces. Even the standard front seats feature 12-way power adjustment. Communication, entertainment, climate, and navigation can all be manipulated through BMW's iDrive "mouse" style controller or through voice commands.
The high-performance version of the 6 Series is the M6, a vehicle built by BMW's M (Motorsports) division. The M6, which arrived in the U.S. in May, is powered by a 500-hp V-10 engine connected to a seven-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). The M6 is a four-seat supercar that can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds.
The BMW 6 Series competes in the Large Premium Sporty segment that includes some of the most interesting vehicles on sale in the United States. The segment includes the Ford GT, with its 200 mile per hour top speed, and the 600-plus horsepower Porsche Carrera GT and Mercedes-Benz SLR.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class leads the segment with 14,835 sales in calendar year 2005. Next comes the BMW 6 Series (9,934 units in 2005), followed by the Jaguar XK, Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, Ford GT, Porsche Carrera GT, and the Mercedes-Benz SLR (200).