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New Car Review: 2005 BMW 6 Series

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2005 BMW 6 Series Turns Heads In Beverly Hills

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for BMW

SIX degrees of Acceleration

By Nicholas Frankl
Senior Editor

It has been a long time coming, but the new 6 Series is at your dealer and ready to add some civilized excitement to your life. It follows in the tire treads of some distinguished predecessors; the BMW 327, launched in 1937; the 503 of the late

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Fifties; the awesome 3.0CS of the 70’s; the final evolution of the 2500/2800 sedans, the legendary - and still collectable - ‘original 6’ and M6 of the Eighties; the V12 850 and V8 840Ci of the ‘90s. Now with the new 6, BMW is back with a big, design-inspired, ‘sexy’ coupe and cabriolet for the 21st Century. Production of the 8 series ceased in 1997 and since then Mercedes, Jaguar and Lexus have enjoyed the rewards of flogging large amounts of SLs, XKs and SCs to an ever-increasing audience: up from 53,000 sales in 1990 to north of 245,000 in fourteen years.

BMW has enjoyed great success and practical ‘ownership’ of the small coupe and cab market with the sublime 3 series and M3, so why not take on the big coupe market where prices and profits are higher and the all important brand ‘halo’ effect more valuable? For a ‘small’ manufacturer BMW is on both a design and product roll. Already, in the past few months, we’ve seen the all-new 5 series, an X5 update and the new X3. Still to come is the 550bhp

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V10 M5 (yes I think I’ll have one of those, thanks), the 1 series and the 4 series and probably a face-lifted 7 series, too. None of this, however, was bothering my mind as I waded into the historic pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a few private laps before evening cocktails, a media presentation and dinner. I must add that if you’re ever in the area and looking for a spot of accommodation, the PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

technology that we are all to believe is the future. Well, as a small boy, at the London Motor Show, I successfully disassembled and reassembled the Talbot Rancho Mirage rear seats in under 60 seconds – to the total amazement of the attending press corps and PR staff. I also have a total surround system that I wired in my house and consider myself an early adapter of new technology, whether it be Bluetooth for mobile phones or wireless networking. That said, it took my co-driver and me 15 minutes to master the radio ON knob and discover that it has a mute button. Oh well. Whilst on the technology front, it frustrated me that there wasn’t any Bluetooth phone connectivity, nor audio input for an MP3 player, nor keyless go and intelligent cruise control. With all the confusion and criticism surrounding I-Drive the boffins have taken their eye off the ball a bit, although an optional heads-up display is coming in the summer.

Back to the business of driving the ultimate driving machine, if not the ultimate intuitive technology machine

The 6 comes in six different configurations, not counting wheel and package options, which include a six speed manual, six speed Steptronic auto and 6-speed SMG version of the manual with the cool F1 paddle shifters. All these are available in both coupe and convertible. Driving out to Pacific Coast Highway on Sunset is long and twisty and mostly clogged with traffic and, at rush hour speeds, the car certainly turned eyes in this auto fashion

I even had a couple of 7 series owners all around the car as we sped quickly to the ocean. Weighing in at 3781 for the coupe and 4178 for the convertible it does feel light on its feet. The adaptive steering works well, tightening up securely and allowing you to know what’s going on up front, whilst making parking offensively easy. The exhaust sounds are great, too, thanks to some clever engineering and active exhaust resonator. These days there’s nothing worse than a sexy, sculpted car with bags of presence and nothing to shout about on the oral stimulation front. Listen to an SL 55AMG next to a stock SL and you’ll see what I mean.

Cruising along PCH and heading for the canyons, the 6 felt tight and very responsive. Featuring the 4.4-liter V8 pumping out the standard 325bhp / 330Ib-ft.torque, it’s enough to propel the coupe to 60mph at just over 5 seconds, the conv auto at 6 seconds. Acceleration is very smooth right up to redline at 6100, with max torque available at a paltry 3100RPM. Equipped with the optional $2800 sports package - that features active steering, 19in sport wheels and run flat tires (245/40R-19 front and whopping 275/35R-19 rear) - the car is extremely sure footed and, even with the traction control off, sticks to the asphalt in even exuberant maneuvering. Twelve-way electrically adjustable seats keep you comfortable and the steering wheel is also electrically adjustable for both rake and reach, providing a comfort envelope that can suit even the most physically demanding user.

After lunch it was time to head back from Ojai and get mildly bronzed in the 2+2 cabriolet. This

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would certainly be my choice. From the side view it is a very elegant machine, with a strong long hood, short overhangs and aggressive stance. Equipped with automatic, the car felt even better than the manual. This combination is one of the best drives in open top motoring; the car just wafts along, the box is sweet and although heavier, the car feels happier in auto guise than stick. Pushing 120mph – top down – but with the rear window raised, our hair was as composed and stable as the car. As a sports tourer there are few cars that compare at any price. The rear legroom is ample, if not generous, for this size of vehicle, but the roof is a feat of engineering. Although not a hard top, like the Lexus and SL, it folds neatly into a very small space behind the seats and, once raised, allows you to increase the cargo space in the trunk by about 30%. The roof can also be activated whilst moving up to 20mph, a big plus when the showers come and it’s not practical or safe to slam on the brakes. Once up, the cabin is also extremely quiet and for all intents and purposes as good as the hard top.

Beverly Hills

I dropped off my passenger and headed off to get some street reaction. This car had not been seen in on the boulevards of Beverly Hill before so I decided to pick up a friend who writes style columns for both British and American newspapers and certainly knows ‘the scene’. First stop was “The Ivy” on Robertson, home to celebrities who do lunch

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at all hours and on all days of the week. The valet guys nearly fainted. “What is this” they inquired? “Man it’s beautiful” said Eduardo whose broad grin was soon gone as I explained I was just picking up and no he couldn’t have the keys! My friend Beverly Bloom (whose family own some fairly exotic cars themselves) was seriously impressed. Wow, it’s beautiful and it sounds great” she exclaimed. “Oh don’t take it back – let’s go straight to Vegas”!

Unfortunately, for all concerned, (except BMW, of course), I dutifully returned the car after an hour spent cruising on Sunset Blvd,

Rodeo Drive
and Melrose Av. Throughout that time, it didn’t matter what gearbox ratios the car had, nor that it was equipped with half a dozen intelligent airbags, ARS, ABS, and a Logic 7 audio system. What really mattered was feeling special driving it. And this car has that ingredient aplenty.

MSRP, $69,995 Coupe; $76,995 Convertible; including destination, base models, not including government fees and taxes.