The 2018 BMW 6 Series is driving off into the sunset. This will probably be the final year of the 6 Series as we know it. Come 2019, a new high-class coupe and convertible built on the excellent platform of the current 7 Series is expected to arrive, and it will be called the 8 Series. But let’s get back to the present.
The 6 Series is part of the BMW portfolio that leans more in the direction of luxurious than sporty. It’s not soft, exactly, but more of a grand tourer. It provides effortless power, gorgeous surroundings and a ride that makes an 8-hour drive an attractive proposition.
What it doesn’t do is stir the blood through the corners, since there’s no disguising the car’s considerable mass, despite a suspension tuned by some of the best engineers in the business. But it has its own attributes, especially when there’s a big V8 rumbling under the hood.
The wider 6 Series range also includes a Gran Coupe, M6 versions and a Gran Turismo, but these are all reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2018?
The coupe has been discontinued for this year. The optional M Sport package offers carbon-fiber trim that was previously only available in the M6. Sonic Speed Blue metallic paint and two-tone 20-inch M wheels also join the options list. See the 2018 BMW 6 Series models for sale near you
What We Like
Fantastic engines; long-distance cruising abilities; high-quality interior; plenty of tech; availability of all-wheel drive
What We Don’t
Less athletic than the BMW badge might imply; cramped back seat; no retractable hard top
The 640i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine making 315 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive (which BMW calls xDrive) is optional. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption for the rear-drive version at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving; all-wheel drive results in 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
A twin-turbocharged V8 in the 650i generates 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Consumption with rear-wheel drive is 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined. Adding all-wheel drive adjusts those figures to 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.
Both versions have an 8-speed automatic transmission (using BMW’s distinctive joystick-like shifter).
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 BMW 6 Series is offered as a soft-top convertible in 640i and 650i forms.
The 640i ($87,695) comes standard with a turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine, 18-in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, LED fog lights, a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers, dynamic cruise control with a braking function, rain-sensing wipers, a sport exhaust, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a self-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry/start, a digital instrument cluster, leather upholstery with sun-reflective technology (including the steering wheel), 10-way power-adjustable/heated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a 9-speaker audio system with the hard-drive-based iDrive infotainment system and a 10.2-in widescreen display, a touchpad-equipped controller knob, digital music storage, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, wireless smartphone charging and Wi-Fi.
The 650i ($99,295) adds a twin-turbocharged V8, 19-in alloy wheels, a 600-watt 12-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound system, 16-way multicontour power-adjustable front seats (adding passenger-side memory settings) and Nappa leather upholstery.
Some of the 650i’s features are available on the 640i as options. Other extras include 20-in wheels, side- and top-view cameras and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. A comprehensive M Sport Edition package contributes aerodynamic tweaks, M-design 20-in wheels, extensive M interior modifications (including Alcantara/Nappa leather trim and carbon-fiber trim), soft-close doors and ventilated front seats. All-wheel drive is $3,000 extra.
The back seat isn’t really big enough for passengers unless those sitting in front don’t mind having their chins close to their knees, or have short legs. Even then, headroom is severely limited unless the top is down.
Speaking of which, there are no complaints about the vinyl roof’s rapid power operation. It’s important to note, however, that soft tops are vulnerable to break-ins and harsh weather in ways that retractable hard tops are not. Incidentally, the heated glass rear window can retract when the roof is up and stay in place as a wind deflector when the roof is down. It takes about 19 seconds for the motors to open the roof (at speeds of up to 25 mph) and around 24 seconds to reverse the process.
The 6 Series has 12 cu ft. of trunk space with the top up. Folding the top down reduces that space by a couple of cubic feet.
The 6 Series comes with stability control, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints, four airbags (front and front-side) and roll bars that pop up automatically in emergencies. Numerous high-tech safety features are available, including a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, night vision and a collision-mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.
The BMW 6 Series has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Behind the Wheel
The first impression is how low the front seats are. They’re not hard to get into, but there’s a definite sports-car flavor here. The standard 10-way power-adjustable front seats are more than pleasant, but the 16-way multicontour seats (optional in the 640i) are so versatile and supportive that they’re virtually a must-have. Interior materials are exceptional, and the dashboard swoops toward the driver, accented by the beautiful 10.2-in iDrive screen. The only quibble is that the steering wheel seems a bit large.
The 640i’s inline 6-cylinder brings strong yet civilized acceleration. But the main event is the 650i’s spectacular twin-turbo V8, which is so quick at any speed it makes us almost question the point of the M6. The 8-speed automatic transmission is a perfect partner, upshifting seamlessly and matching revs enthusiastically on downshifts. Ultimately, though, the 6 Series is too large and heavy to really be considered athletic. Its true comfort zone is on the highway, where it’s serene and planted at all speeds.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Jaguar F-Type — Only two seats, but exceptionally capable, smooth, stylish and — with the right engine — seriously fast.
2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class — One of the jewels in Mercedes-Benz’s crown. The best of both worlds as well, since it has a retractable hard top.
Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet — Brand-new, it’s appreciably more expensive than the 6 Series, but a certified pre-owned (CPO) example could fall within the budget. It still comes with plenty of modern tech.
For long trips and short runs alike, the multicontour seats are absolutely worth the money. And selecting those extra safety features is always advisable. But you may want to wait and see what the 8 Series has to offer.