What is it?
It’s hardly surprising that for this mid-life refresh, BMW has left the looks of the 6 Series pretty much untouched. Unlike the contentious Chris Bangle design from the 2003 re-launch, the current 6, to these eyes at least, is an elegant beast.
However, there are a few subtle design tweaks, plus the new 6 Series gains some extra equipment, interior trim upgrades and a more efficient version of the straight-six diesel engine for 2015.
What’s it like?
Those exterior styling changes mainly affect SE models, which gain a full-width air scoop in the front bumper with additional chrome inserts. At the rear, again there’s more chrome trim, plus larger exhausts. M Sport models, with their more aggressive styling, stay largely unchanged.
Although the new 6 Series remains the same price as the outgoing model, BMW has added value by giving customers more kit. LED headlights and extended leather trim across the dashboard and doors are all standard as is the TFT instrument pack.
We’ve been driving the 640d Coupé in M Sport trim. Its power delivery off the line is deliciously smooth, making it a docile thing to drive around town in comparison with the more urgent 650i we tried earlier in the year.
It’s no slouch out on the open road, though. Power stays at 309bhp, which is enough to launch you from zero to 62mph in a punchy 5.3secs. However, all that torque – 465lb ft to be precise – being available from just 1500rpm, makes it feel almost as fast as the more powerful V8 in the gears. Apart from a little low-end diesel clatter, it sounds great too, with a meaty straight-six growl at full chat.
The 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine is now Euro 6 compliant and more efficient. Unbelievably, considering the performance potential and weight of the 6, this engine should deliver up to 52.3 mpg (with 18in wheels) according to BMW, which gives a potential touring range of a staggering 786 miles.
The eight-speed auto gearbox works beautifully. Up-changes are slick and thanks to its GPS-based awareness of the surroundings, it will select and hold on to the right gear (mostly) for any given bend or long downhill stretch. As a result, you tend to ignore the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
BMW claims to have fettled the electric steering’s mapping and the suspension’s damper settings, in a bid to sharpen the handling whilst taking out some harshness from the 6’s ride – it’s not been a complete success. The steering still doesn’t feel very linear, being either too light dead-centre or too heavy as you pile on lock, depending on which mode you select.
It’s also very camber sensitive. You can be holding onto the steering wheel mid-bend, feeling it load up in your palm, only for the weight to suddenly vanish, then reappear again, making it darn tricky to hold your chosen line.
Our M Sport test car was fitted with stiffer suspension and 20in wheels as standard. If you set the suspension to Comfort mode this will take the sting out of general surface imperfections, but here in the UK we have more specialist road surfaces too, mainly ranging from bad to appalling.
Even in Comfort, over such surfaces the 6 starts to crash and thump in a way that doesn’t suit its grand touring character. Stiffen it up further in Sport or Sport Plus and it starts to become really cruel unless the road ahead is dead smooth.
Being such a big car, the 6 has never felt overly wieldy. That said, you can hustle it along a B-road, where it displays decent body control and a playful rear-end when the mood takes you. The brakes shed speed quickly when required to as well.
If you were to do a 6 Series pros and cons list, cabin ambience would definitely be on the former. The new leatherwork and high-gloss centre console elevate what was already a top-notch interior; the comfortable multi-adjustable seats, fabulous driving position, generous space up front and BMW’s unbeatable iDrive infotainment system seal the deal.
Should I buy one?
It may not be as sporty as a Porsche 911 or ultimately as comfortable as a Mercedes S-Class Coupé, but the 6 Series still has huge appeal.
If you are going to buy one, then the 640d is the one to go for. Its superb engine delivers the same performance as the 640i, all but matches the 650i for real-world pace, but will still get you to the south of France on a single tank of fuel. It will look great parked up in Cannes, too.
BMW 640d Coupé
Location Gloucester; On sale Now; Price £65,895; Engine 6-cyl, 2993cc, twin-turbo, diesel; Power 309bhp at 4400rpm; Torque 465lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1815kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 5.3sec; Economy 52.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 143g/km, 26%
What is it?