Review: BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018)

Rating:

Incredibly smooth and refined. One of the best convertibles at minimising wind turbulance with the top down. Very well equipped as standard. Good ride quality.

Other convertibles at this level have a folding hard-top roof.

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BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018): At A Glance

BMW isn't short of quality convertibles. There's the great Z4 along with drop top variants of both the 2 Series and the 4 Series, but the ultimate BMW for open-top driving remains the 6 Series. This latest version continues the legacy of its predecessor without breaking the mould, but has some key improvements with more powerful yet efficient engines, improved room inside and increased refinement.

It also keeps the fabric roof of the outgoing model - a bit of a surprise given that the Z4 and 4 Series Convertible both now have metal folding roofs as does the BMW's big rival - the classy Mercedes-Benz SL. No doubt fitting a metal roof to a car the size of the 6 Series would mean it resembling something like the Ark Royal at the back.

It's not too much of an issue though as not only does it keep weight down (and means that boot space isn't diminished when you lower the top) which helps handling, but it also adds to the sharp styling. It's fair to say that this 6 Series has a far sleeker appearance than the car it replaces.

It's the same story inside where the 6 Series takes styling inspiration from the 5 Series but with the addition of some neat curves that flow from the dash to the centre stack. It's not a style you'd readily associate with BMW interiors but is a welcome change and adds to the more soulful feel. The switches and controls have all been updated plus there are new virtual instrument dials.

And these improvements continue throughout the car, with a far better ride helped by a newly developed chassis and a more forgiving suspension set-up. With the roof down, it's genuinely one of - if not the - most refined convertibles on the market with barely any wind turbulence in the cabin, even when you're on the motorway. And the 6 Series is equally happy being thrown into corners with nicely weighted steering, precise controls and great body control.

It's not particularly cheap, the six-cylinder 640i SE costs more than £65k new while the V8 twin-turbo 650i will set you back close to £75,000, but for that you get a well equipped and wonderfully refined grand tourer that's always a joy to drive.

What does a BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018) cost?

List Price from £46,230
Buy new from £35,870
Contract hire from £392.86 per month

BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4894 mm
Width 1894–2090 mm
Height 1365 mm
Wheelbase 2855 mm

Full specifications

The interior of this 6 Series has a more driver focussed feel than its predecessor and a dash more style too with curves you don't usually associate with BMW interiors. It's not a massive departure in terms of the layout but there are some key changes and improvements. The central section of the instrument panel is angled slightly towards the driver plus it adopts the new interior styling first seen on the 5 Series GT.

This includes new air conditioning controls set in a high gloss panel that also incorporates the stereo along with a huge display screen. There are new instrument dials too with a virtual display for the speedo and rev counter numbers along with the multifunction computer below. It looks smart but with the roof down and in bright sunshine, they can be hard to see.

The iDrive system does take a little getting used to and isn't always that intuitive. What would seem like a simple change can take a few too many clicks, but usefully there are eight 'favourites' buttons that can be programmed for anything from stored sat nav destinations to radio stations or even phone numbers. The navigation system itself is one of the best around and looks great thanks to the wide screen. It also works out routes very quickly and even the arrival/travel time is pretty much spot on.

One very clever feature (which is ideal if you do work on the go) is that you can display emails via the iDrive system. If you have BlackBerry you can check your emails via Bluetooth and it will show them on the display or you can even have them read out thanks to a text-to-speech function. The 6 Series is also available with the excellent Head-Up Display (HUD) which was pioneered by BMW. It's not a cheap optional extra at £980 but once you've driven a car fitted with it, you'll wonder how you ever survived without it. It projects your speed (plus sat nav directions) onto the windscreen in front of the driver as if it's floating a few metres ahead. All very Top Gun.

It certainly feels spacious inside and even the rear seats are more useable although they're not much good for adults on longer journeys. But that extra width makes a difference for elbow room in the front which is helped by a new electric parking brake which replaces the traditional handbrake in the old model. Despite the lower height of this new model, there's actually more headroom for both those in the front and the back too.

The seats deserve special mention as they're some of the best around. Not only do they keep you in place if you're throwing the 6 Series into corners, but they offer great support for long distance comfort so even after seven or eight hours behind the wheel, you won't ache. They are heated and have plenty of adjustment while the electric optional lumbar support (a £300 option) is worth it if you're doing lots of long journeys.

Both the standard Dakota leather and optional Exclusive Nappa leather come with SunReflective Technology, where the material is integrated with special colour pigments that reflect the infrared rays of sunlight and stop it getting too hot if you leave the car parked with the roof down (and it's actually sunny of course). Perhaps a water repellent coating would be better for the UK...

One area that's often a problem with convertibles is the boot. The 6 Series uses a fabric roof rather than a metal folding roof (which is a little odd considering both the Z4 and 4 Series Convertible have hard roofs) but it does mean that the boot doesn't shrink when you drop the roof. There's 350 litres of space - the same as a Volkswagen Golf - which is enough room for two standard suitcases or two golf bags.

The roof is of course fully automatic and there are no catches or handles to release. Just a simple push of a button below the gearlever sees it drop down in 19 seconds while putting it back up takes 24 seconds. They aren't the quickest times around, but at least it can be operated up to 25mph so you won't get caught out if you decide to quickly put the roof down in traffic or at a set of traffic lights.

Standard equipment from launch (March 2011):

640i SE models get 18-inch Double-spoke alloy wheels with Run-flat tyres, Dakota leather upholstery with Sun Reflective Technology, an eight-speed Sport automatic transmission, Drive Dynamic Control (Normal, Sport and Sport+), electric parking brake, cruise control, keyless start, electric seat adjustment, BMW Professional Multimedia Navigation system, xenon headlights, LED front fog lights, front and rear Park Distance Control, heated front seats, automatic air conditioning with two-zone control, Sport multi-function leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, electric steering column adjustment, auxiliary input, USB audio interface, iDrive Controller with shortcut buttons, Bluetooth and voice control.

650i SE models add 19-inch light V-spoke style alloys with Run-flat tyres, quadrilateral exhaust tailpipes and dark grey Poplar wood high-gloss interior trim.

Child seats that fit a BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018) like to drive?

BMW launched the 6 Series with two high powered petrol engines but the 640d wasn't far behind, especially as it accounts for the big majority of sales. The two petrol models are the six-cylinder 640i and the V8 650i which is fitted with twin turbochargers. Despite the name the 640i is actually a 3.0-litre engine but it's fitted with a turbo and really offers more than enough performance for most with 320bhp and 450Nm of torque. The torque peaks at just 1300rpm up to 4500rpm so there's always plenty of grunt low down and you rarely have to push the engine unless you want all out acceleration.

As it's a straight-six engine it's incredibly smooth and quiet on the move plus it's relatively economical with a claimed average of 35.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 185g/km, although as with all these figures given by manufacturers, you'll rarely achieve them. On a long motorway cruise an average of around 29mpg is more realistic but enjoying that performance on a quiet road will see it drop fairly rapidly. On paper it will accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and has plenty of urgency away from a standstill plus it manages to translate that power to the road cleanly without any scrabbling for grip (in the dry at least).

Like the 650i, the 640i comes with an eight-speed Sport automatic gearbox as standard. It does seem a little over the top but the wide range of ratios works especially well in the 640i and offers effortless acceleration helped by smooth shifts. It doesn't need too much provoking in order to kick down either, so overtaking is a breeze. It come with paddles on the steering wheel for changing gear yourself while the 640i also has an engine stop/start system as part of BMW's EfficientDynamics programme of fuel saving measures.

The stop/start is fitted to plenty of BMW models from the 1 Series up, but does seem fairly laboured in the 640i and not especially smooth at restarting once it has stopped. It can be switched off although this defeats the object of having it fitted. It's not on the 650i (yet...) which makes sense as this is the real performance version of the 6 Series, at least until the M6 arrives. The V8 sounds superb on start up and has a much more purposeful noise than the smoother 640i.

The 4.4-litre V8 engine is also considerably more powerful with 407bhp and 600Nm of torque although while a 0-62mph time of 5.0 seconds is faster on paper, it doesn't seem that much quicker in everyday driving. It also feels heavier and not quite as responsive as the 640i even though the torque does peak at 1750 to 4500rpm. Economy is another issue, it'll only average a claimed 26.4mpg while emissions are 249g/km although when you take into account the power it offers, it's not actually that bad - a Mercedes-Benz SL500 only returns a claimed 24.4mpg while a Jaguar XK Convertible does 25.2mpg.

The ride is impressively smooth and more forgiving than many BMW models in M Sport trim. Much of this is down to the Drive Dynamic Control system which comes as standard. This lets you choose how responsive you want the gearbox, steering and throttle to be. There are three settings, normal, sport and sport+. In both sport modes the gear changes are made more aggressive, while sport+ also alters the stability control, allowing more wheelspin before it intervenes.

This 6 Series gets a completely new chassis that has been designed to offer comfort as well as a thrilling driving experience. Never an easy mix. It does a pretty good job, although it doesn't feel as sharp or as agile as the smaller Z4. It is however incredibly refined and 50 per cent stiffer than the outgoing 6 Series, which makes a big difference with the roof down when you go over big potholes or rough roads as there's no flexing or twsiting. It's no sports car but then it's not really meant to be, instead the 6 is a very classy grand tourer.

This sense of sophisticated is most evident with the roof down. Thanks to the retractable rear glass screen along with the wind deflector (which despite the price of the 6 Series is disappointingly an optional extra), there is barely any wind turbulence when you're on the move, even at motorway speeds, making it - for our money - the most refined convertible around.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
640d 50–50 mpg 5.5 s 148–149 g/km
640d Automatic 49–50 mpg 5.5 s 148 g/km
640i 36–36 mpg 5.5 s 183–185 g/km
640i Automatic 36–37 mpg 5.5 s 185 g/km
650i 31 mpg 4.6 s 214 g/km
650i Automatic 31–31 mpg 4.6 s 214 g/km

Real MPG average for a BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

76%

Real MPG

26–43 mpg

MPGs submitted

39

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What Cars Are Similar To The BMW 6 Series Convertible (2011 – 2018)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Keen handling, Open top, Petrol engine and Convertible.

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What do owners think?

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