Bmw 6 Series Coupe

It continues the softening of the previous car's sharp edges, but BMW's all-new GTstill cuts one mighty imperious dash. By GeorgKacher

,2A I JANUARY 2011

Rear seats are beautifully sculpted considering you cant fit in them. But the front row is tailored for long, fast distances

GREAT PROPORTIONS, HORRIBLE detailing. Dwarfed headlamps that looked like they were sliding oif the droopy nose, the Putco-styled rump that so rudely truncated the tail-lamps. But enough of the 2003 6 Series coupe, because this is its replacement.

The numberplate may protest that it's a concept, but this is nigh on identical to the 6 Series coupe that lands in showrooms in South African showrooms in September 2011. Witnessing the unveiling of each Chris Bangle BM W was like watching anything from Quentin Tarantino: predictably gruesome. After the replacement 7 series, Z4 and 5 Series, Adrian van Hooydonk's style has become clear: keep the cartoony shapes, but finesse them, beautify' them. And the 2011 6 Series is his most beautiful BMW yet.

He's been in charge of BMW design for six years, has the 46-year-old Dutchman. 'This generation has moved slightly closer together with a family look. Some people have said their shapes are easier to digest, but they still have quite complex surfacing. They're striking at first glance. We want people to love these cars at first sight, that's vital for a premium brand.'

Van Hooydonk is much more likely to get his wish: there are nice touches aplenty. The advanced LED headlamps, complete with razor-type indicators and adaptive light system, now look neat and in proportion. The lower grille is more subtle, the trunklid less extreme. And the doorhandle incorporated in the shoulder line and the sharky nose consciously pay homage to one of BMW's finest hours, the 1972 3.0 CSL. 'The sportier the BMW, the more shark we put in! Sharp lines have always been part of what we do.'

Measuring 4894mm long and 1894mm wide, the new 6 Series is a big car, larger than its predecessor and with a fractionally higher roofline too. The car's nose is even longer than before, to accommodate powerplants in a front/mid-engine position. 'We spend time and engineering power on getting the proportions right: the longest wheelbase, the shortest overhangs. This gives BM Ws a certain dynamic - and a competitive advantage,' purrs Van Hooydonk.

Nothing's perfect, however. The bonnet's gaping cutline disturbs the front end harmony, the ornate curves along the flanks offer an unwelcome reminder of 7 Series, and the fat B-posts are much less pretty than the classical, piilarless solution that enhances Mercedes' E-class coupe.

The 6 Series remains a Grand Tourer, rather than a razor-sharp sports car. it captures the spirit of the ultimate driving machine, and it's designed to be at its best over long distances covered at consistently high speeds.'

Cabin space is marginally more generous thanks to a modest stretch of the wheelbase, but the Six is still only a 2+2-seater despite its 5 Series dimensions. Although jumping into the back is easy thanks to the power-operated front seats, once you have made it to row two, space is compromised by the dropping roofline, the wide transmission tunnel and the sub-Georg lack of legroom. The 450-litre boot capacity is unchanged.

The interior of the show car is better laid out and more functional than its predecessor's, but the mix of beige-grey and mid-brown leather looks like the work of an indecisive chocolatier. Is the glass roof featured here going to be available as an option? it's too early to tell,' responds the smiling chief designer, 'but I can disclose that the roof pillars were beefed up so that they will sustain five times the vehicle weight...' Sounds like a function for the flab to us.

Also new is the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system which features 16 speakers, including one which rises from the dashboard like a black snake from a chrome ►

Rear seats are beautifully sculpted considering you cant fit in them. But the front row is tailored for long, fast distances

basket when the radio is switched on. Sadly, this kind of high-end ICE typically costs as much as an entry-level Korean hatchback. Perhaps the most convincing touch of the new 6 Series' cabin concerns the revised centre stack which is angled towards the driver they way we remember it from the very first 635CSi coupe. There's a large flatscreen monitor which lets you access all sorts of electronic goodies from Google Earth satnav to your own music library, from connectivity with 350 types of cell phones to mobile internet access. The power-operated multi-contour integrated memory seats with optional massage, heating and cooling function deserve the seventh heaven seal of approval. And the front perches drop marginally lower to the road for an equally divine and sporty seating position.

The two-door coupe will be offered with three different engines at launch. The 64oi runs the turbocharged 3.0-lirre six with 45okW, the 6501 fields a 3ookW twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8. The flagship diesel - badged 64od - is the 23okW twin-turbo 3.0-litre six; a detuned i85kW 3.0-litre six is waiting in the wings to create a 63od. All

< engines are mated to the silky smooth eight-speed automatic

< transmission which also does duty in the 7 and X5. Above this quartet % roams the new M6, which sheds today's 5.0-litre V10 and Sequential 5 Manual Gearbox in favour of a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 and its seven-5 speed dual-clutch transmission. Despite the drop in displacement, J power climbs from 373kW to 4o8kW. You'll have to wait until 2012 g for the M6, however. There's another sting in this tail. The first 6 h Series will be the convertible rather than the fixed-head, to coincide £ with the European spring and summer spike in drop-top sales. The

1 international launch takes places in Cape Town in February 2011.

< Finally, there'll be a third Six this time around: the four-door GT,

2 which goes Merc CLS-hunting in 2012. Shown as the GranCoupe H concept back in April, the GT is very much a stretched version of

< this two-door. And you know what that means this time around? Great proportions, great detailing. Let the good cars roll.

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