2012 BMW 6 Series Convertible

7/2/2011

 

We're twisting and turning along a spectacular stretch of canyon road when suddenly we clamp down hard on the excellent vented discs that stop BMW's new 6 Series: We've got baboons in the road. Yes, baboons. A whole crew of them strutting their stuff, big red butts and all.

2012 bmw 6 series

Things are a little different south of the Tropic of Capricorn in Cape Town, South Africa and environs -- it's awash in sunshine when much of America is shoveling their driveways for the 50th time. It's a near-perfect locale for the international launch of the 2012 6 Series Convertible, a car that absolutely must be driven with the top down to experience its true nature.

 

2012 BMW 6 Series Convertible Rear Three Quarter 2
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It takes a minute to get oriented to right-hand driving on the left side of the road, but once we're out of Cape Town and into baboon country, we settle in and saddle up in the 6's cosseting leather seats, because this vehicle has got plenty of new tricks under its reworked sheetmetal sleeve.

 

The first trick is making a roughly 4550-pound beast of a car accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. In the 650i coming stateside in May, it's accomplished by activating the wonder Twin Power turbo power, BMW's stout 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 with 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque channeled through a killer ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. American purists, rejoice! A six-speed manual will be available for the tens of 6 Series buyers who opt for it. (The coupe will appear this autumn, and the M6 in mid-2012.)

 

2012 BMW 6 Series Convertible Front Three Quarters
 Click to view Gallery
Oh goodie, a stoplight. After acknowledging the enterprising South Africans hawking their wares in the road ("Nice car, mon!"), it's time to dial BMW's Driving Dynamics Control to Sport+, pop it into manual mode, and grab the well-placed paddles. It's go time. The 245/40 R19 rear meats chirp in second as the double snails furiously spool up and the V-8 roars like an African lion. Nice. Not so nice? The gas mileage. Figures should roughly match the outgoing car's 15/23 city/highway mpg with the automatic, but we're guessing 6 Series customers won't mind.

2012 bmw 6 series

Along with the X3, the 6-series is the oldest BMW on the market. Launched at the Frankfurt auto show in the fall of 2003, the current car has carried on for seven years, supported by a convertible version launched in 2004 and a very modest face lift in late 2007. Now it’s time to move on, and this is what we believe the next-generation 6-series will look like. It will be launched in late 2010 or early 2011 and draw heavily from the Gran Coupé concept car BMW unveiled at the Beijing auto show earlier this year.Stylistically, the next 6 will be less bulky than the current model, which—back in 2003—was the second Bangle-fied blow absorbed by BMW loyalists after the portly 2001 7-series. With LED running lights and BMW’s characteristic air intakes below the headlights, the next 6 will launch with styling elements that undoubtedly will prove less controversial than the outgoing model’s protruding posterior. It will look leaner, tighter, and more aggressive than the current model.

Power initially will come from BMW’s 300-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and 400-hp, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8. Europe will get a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel likely rated around 320 hp, but we doubt it will be offered in the U.S. We will, however, get another M6, which—like the next M5—will be powered by a high-output version of the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 rated as high as 580 hp. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a manual-transmission option. The current-generation V-10 M5 and M6 were launched with the automated SMG transmission only, but U.S. customers forced BMW to hastily add a six-speed manual—a lesson unlikely to be forgotten soon. If this engine portfolio sounds awfully similar to that of the 5-series, that’s because under the skin—as has been the case since the 6-series debuted in the late ’70s—the 5 is the 6′s closest sibling, even though the coupe poses as a sportier, slightly downsized 7-series.

 

 

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