BMW's 6 Series Combines Luxury with Sport

Physician's Money DigestJuly15 2004
Volume 11
Issue 13

Each motor vehicle is a piece of industrial art— art in motion. From the base-priced Mitsubishi to the most expensive Lamborghini Gallardo, the designers become artists creating a fluid image. The more expensive the car, the more art and technology are integrated.

Sporty Elegance

BMW has at times put image over aerodynamics. Now the new 645Ci is a naturally attractive design in league with BMW's new wave. The 6 Series is available as a two-door coupe or convertible. It seats four: two comfortably in the front and two more somewhat comfortably in the back. At 190 inches in length and 3800 pounds, it competes well in the personal luxury market. It's a sporty car first and foremost, but it's also an elegant car with a tremendous volume of luxury technologies.

If you're considering a two-door sports car, then you should test-drive a 6 Series. Even if you don't plan on spending $70,000 for the coupe or $77,000 for the convertible, it's still an education. If you are considering buying something exotic in the $100,000+ range, such as the new Astin Martin DB9 or Bentley Continental GT, then test-drive the 6 Series.

The headlight and taillight style is different from other BMWs. It's immediately noticeable from the front with the illuminated angel eyes surrounding the xenon headlights that adjust as you turn corners. The trunk has an integrated spoiler and light-emitting diode taillights that turn suddenly extra bright during emergency stopping. It truly has the BMW signatures all around.

Fine-tuned Machine

The 6 Series offers three choices of 6-speed transmissions, all at no extra charge. You may opt for the automatic that offers a manual mode, or the traditional 6-speed manual that gives the ultimate in control with a traditional clutch and gearshift lever. The third transmission offers thrilling acceleration with a sequential manual gearbox (SMG).

The SMG gearshift looks like a manual but functions completely differently and offers the addition of two shifts on the steering wheel. The SMG is a manual transmission without a clutch pedal. The clutch automatically engages and disengages for the fastest gear changes possible. We've driven many similar transmissions from other automakers, concluding that the SMG has finally been perfected in the 6 Series.

It's not just the driveline that makes a BMW; it's the sophistication of all the rolling components. The rigid cast aluminum suspension components are attractive and light, and the suspension's geometry allows it to follow the contour of the road extremely well.

Brilliant added features, such as the active antiroll bars, keep the 6 Series flat in a turn as none we've ever driven, actuating rapidly by a hydraulic motor that works at all four wheels when cornering. Some automakers attempt the same effect by pumping up or locking the valving on the shock absorbers, but it just doesn't work as effectively as on the 6 Series.

The wheelbase is about 4 inches shorter than on a 5 Series, coming in at just over 109 inches. This makes the car more nimble and agile for urban driving. Like all BMWs, the performance controls, switches, and buttons are consistent and smooth in a way you can rely on.

The 645Ci comes in two models: a hard-top coupe and a powered soft-top convertible. When entering, you can roll down the top on the convertible with the key in the door. The structural rigidity and safety of a steel roof gets high marks. The convertible offers nearly the same rigidity and has a few more technological tricks, including a vertical rear window that works as a wind deflector when the top is down, but also goes down when the top is up to create an open-air effect. Run-flat tires are standard, as is a tire pressure sensor. Available luxury options such as heated seats and an upgraded audio system are highly recommended.

If you're looking for the sporty feel, go for the additional sport package with active steering. Standard equipment includes a moon roof, navigation system, and memory driver's seat. The new BMW 6 Series is a supreme roadster tuned just right for both the back roads and the city streets.

Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent research reporters and the founders of

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