Review: BMW 6 Series (2011 – 2018)
Sleek looks and more handsome than previous 6 Series. Powerful yet economical 640d has an epic engine. Amazingly refined.
More of a grand tourer than a sports car.
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BMW 6 Series (2011 – 2018): At A Glance
What do you get if you combine refined comfort, strong performance and good looks? The answer is the BMW 6 Series. It is the perfect car when it comes to covering long distances in style and now in its third generation, it seems BMW has really perfected the art of the 'grand tourer'. It's a joy to drive and a motor that's guaranteed to get attention.
This 6 Series is certainly better looking than the previous incarnation - the drooping front end has gone for starters - and it's now a sharper and more elegant design but with the same classic BMW short overhangs and long bonnet. Inside there's a similar cabin to the latest 5 Series with a high quality feel and a cockpit that's focussed toward the driver. It's even fairly practical with two rear seats that are more spacious than before (but still pretty tight) and a usefully large boot.
There's a choice of three engines with two petrols in the shape of the 640i and 650i plus the exceptional 640d. And it's the twin-turbo diesel with 313PS which is the star of the show. It's perfectly suited to the 6 Series with smooth yet punchy performance but what is most impressive is fuel economy.
Of course this doesn't come cheap with prices starting at around £60,000 but the 6 Series is at least well equipped for that money. All models have leather upholstery, electric seats, a multimedia navigation system and xenon headlights to name but a few. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is also standard fit.
There's very little else that naturally competes with the 6 Series. The Mercedes SL-Class and Jaguar XK are similar coupes (or convertibles) but neither is available with a diesel engine which makes the 640d a unique package and one that's very attractive.
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BMW 6 Series (2011 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 460 litres
This 6 Series is lower than the previous model but slightly bigger in every other area. It has better headroom than before in the front but it's most noticeable in the back.
Okay, so these seats are still not ideal for adults on anything other than a short journey, but at least they're now more useable than before with extra elbow and shoulder room. However, it's far more likely you'll use them for extra carrying space. The boot is good too and according to BMW can carry three 46-inch golf bags or two medium hard-shell cases and a flight case.
The seats are excellent offering plenty of height adjustment while the reach and height adjustment of the steering means finding a comfortable driving position is straightforward. The latest 6 Series also gets newly developed lightweight seats with an integrated seatbelt system plus an easy entry function if you need access to the back seats. Sports seats and comfort seats are available as options too.
The design of the cabin is softer than the old 6 Series with a big swoop from the passenger side of the dash into the central stack while the controls are all slightly angled toward the driver. It means that you feel surrounded by all the key elements when driving. As you'd expect of a BMW - especially one with a price tag like the 6 Series - the quality of the interior is superb and it's evident no corners have been cut. It's a wonderful cabin for long journeys and offers impressive comfort and refinement.
It's also filled with technology including one of the best integrated sat nav systems around - BMWs Professional sat nav - complete with a huge 10.2-inch screen which is one of the largest on any car. It's a really easy sat nav to use with clear instructions and it's quick to work out routes too.
The system is controlled through the iDrive control which includes a dial next to the gearlever and has eight useful 'favourite' buttons on the dash which can be programmed with anything from home on the sat nav to phone numbers via Bluetooth or favourite radio stations.
Standard equipment from launch (October 2011)
SE models gets 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch for the 650i), Daktota leather upholstery, eight-speed Sport automatic transmission, electric seat adjustment with memory, BMW Professional Multimedia Navigation system, xenon headlights, LED front fog lights and rear parking sensors.
M Sport models add 19-inch M light alloy wheels (20-inch on the 650i), black brake calipers, M aerodynamic bodystyling, high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, dark chrome exhausts, M Sport multifunction steering wheel, Anthracite headlining and sport seats.
Options include surround view, BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, Parking Assist, Lane Change Warning System, Lane Departure Warning System, speed limit display and the head-up display.
Child seats that fit a BMW 6 Series (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.
What's the BMW 6 Series (2011 – 2018) like to drive?
The main feeling you get from behind the wheel of the 6 Series is a sense of of refinement. This is one car that manages everything with minimal fuss. BMW labels it a 'grand tourer' which may be a description from a bygone era, but it does sum up exactly what this car is all about - covering long distances cross country in effortless style.
It's incredibly relaxed yet still a great peformance car and makes most sense with the new 640d engine. No surprise then that BMW reckon this model will account for the vast majority of 6 Series on the road.
Ignore the slightly misleading name - this is actually a 3.0-litre diesel engine but it's fitted with twin turbochargers to give the kind of power and performance you'd expect from a 4.0-litre diesel. It also signifies that this engine is even more powerful than the superb 635d of the previous model. It develops 313PS but what really makes it is the 630Nm of torque which gives such meaty acceleration.
On paper it will do 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds but what you're more likely to find useful is the in-gear pace it has, particularly from around 50mph. This makes it ideal for fast and safe overtaking and it's incredibly rapid along a winding section of road, yet remains calm and unflustered. Of course it's no surprise BMW has introduced this engine at the same time that Audi has launched its new BiTDI 3.0-litre engine with an identical 313PS and even more torque - 650Nm.
The 640d has a very purposeful note and a nice six-cylinder thrum, although it obviously doesn't sound as good as the petrol models. However, it's by far the best choice for everyday performance and of course there the obvious economy benefits. It's helped by an automatic engine start-stop system (that also comes on the 640i) plus an automatic active air flap control behind the grille for optimum engine performance.
The two petrols are the silkily smooth 640i - a 3.0-litre straight six engine that's fitted with a turbocharger to produce 320PS and 450Nm of torque. It's certainly the relaxed choice in the 6 Series line-up but given the performance of the diesel and the economy difference you'd go for the punchy diesel everytime.
Until the M6 arrives, the performance model is the 650i - a monster 4.4-litre V8 with 407PS which sounds as good as you'd expect, especially under full acceleration. It's also as thirsty as you'd expect with an average of 26.6mpg but it feels suitably special as the top of the range model and has staggering performance with a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds.
Driving the 6 Series is very enjoyable - if not always that involving. It's no sports car, not that BMW says it is, but if you're expecting the sharp handling of a Porsche you'll be disappointed. That said, it corners with plenty of precision and feels agile for what is still a substantial car that can carry four adults (at a push).
All models have an eight-speed Sport automatic gearbox as standard which responds rapidly when you need it to and comes with steering-wheel mounted paddles so you can change gear manually. In town the gearbox is a godsend and means that in traffic the 6 Series is easy to drive. It's also easy to park with light steering and parking sensors front and rear - useful as it's tricky to judge the extremeties.
The quality of the ride is a real highlight in the 6 Series. Firm in corners but forgiving over bumpy roads, it adds to the sophisticated feel. The newly developed chassis also comes with Drive Dynamic Control as standard which lets you choose how responsive you want the gearbox, steering and throttle to be. Adaptive Drive is available as an option and gives you anti-roll stabilisation and electrically controlled dampers that you can switch between different settings from Sport+ to Comfort.
|640d||51 mpg||5.3 s||144–145 g/km|
|640d Automatic||51–52 mpg||5.3 s||145–147 g/km|
|640i||36–37 mpg||5.3 s||179–181 g/km|
|640i Automatic||37–37 mpg||5.3 s||179 g/km|
|650i||32 mpg||4.6 s||206 g/km|
|650i Automatic||32–32 mpg||4.6 s||206 g/km|
Real MPG average for a BMW 6 Series (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.
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.
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