By Jason Allan - Updated Date: 12/6/2011
Until the new Mercedes-Benz SL shows up within the year, the 2012 BMW 6 Series is the new kid on a small block that also includes the Jaguar XK. Being the freshest counts for a lot in a segment driven more by image and style considerations than by value and practicality, and the BMW 6 Series is taking full advantage of its turn in the spotlight. It doesn't just look better than ever, it outshines its competitors in almost every measure imaginable.You'll Like This Car If...
Beyond all the power, technology and feature advantages, the 2012 BMW 6 Series is less pricey and more flexible (larger) than the Mercedes-Benz SL and enjoys a better reputation for quality than the Jaguar XK.You May Not Like This Car If...
The smaller, 2-seat 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL feels sportier behind the wheel than the 2012 BMW 6 Series, and the 2012 Jaguar XK has a richer interior.What's New for 2012
The 2012 BMW 6 Series is about as all-new as an all-new model can be. Aside from an overwhelming list of new features and technologies, the 6 Series lineup will now include a 6-cylinder turbo engine option (640i Coupe and 640i Convertible) and available all-wheel drive (650i xDrive Coupe and 650i xDrive Convertible). Later we'll see a high-performance M6 model and a first-ever 4-door 6 Series in the spirit of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7.Driving It Driving Impressions
We aren't yet traveling by jetpack, but a decade into the 21st-century we do have cars that transform at the push of a button. In Comfort mode, the 2012 BMW 650i Coupe and Convertible are high-power pleasure cruisers combining a comfortable ride with at-the-ready responsiveness. Dial it up past Normal and Sport modes to Sport+ mode, and the transmissions kicks down, the revs go up and the suspension gets tight, effectively turning the car into a smaller and lighter performance coupe. It's exactly as fast as you'd expect a 400-horsepower car of this size to be, and a small turbo step - not lag, really - is the magnificent engine's only mentionable quirk. Buyers seeking to err on the side of comfort might want to stick with the smaller 18-inch standard wheels and tires.Favorite Features
With BMW Apps and an iPhone, you can control Pandora internet radio via the car's interface and read your friends' Facebook and Twitter updates, with the promise of even more interesting functionality on the way.
4-way Adjustable Suspension
We don't think adjustable suspension has received all the credit it's due for enabling drivers to have their cake and eat it, too. And it's a perfect fit on the 6 Series, a car that's very mission is to deliver high levels of both performance and comfort.
On one hand we appreciate BMW's if-it-ain't-broke approach to interior design. Really, we do. But the thing is, we'd rather hang out in an Audi. We're sure it's causing plenty of contentious meetings in Munich, but we're starting to see more color and more interesting shapes breach BMW's heretofore impenetrable sheet metal. In fact, the 2012 BMW 6 Series might represent the pinnacle of BMW interior style. From a more practical standpoint, the back seat is neither comfortable nor inhospitable, the trunk is surprisingly sizeable and the soft convertible top doesn't impede on cargo area like a retractable hard top would. All coupes come with a glass roof that tilts open but doesn't retract.Exterior
The accept-it-or-hate-it rear end is long gone, but the 2012 BMW 6 Series is wrapped in an otherwise evolutionary new design. The face and profile are instantly recognizable, and the convertible version still has a distinctive soft top. The lines and proportions don't get our blood pumping the way the smaller BMW Z4 does, but compared to the outgoing model the sportier new 6 Series is smoking hot.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 BMW 640i Coupe includes a 315-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The standard equipment list is an impressive one, stretching to include iDrive central control and a 10.2-inch display, rearview camera and front/rear parking sensors, plus four years of the BMW Assist Safety Plan with automatic crash notification and other services.
A fully-loaded 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Convertible, the priciest 6 Series model available, includes a 400-horsepower turbocharged V8 matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Equipment highlights at the 6-figure end of the price range include Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection, Head-up Display, Bang & Olufsen sound system with retractable center speaker, active cruise control and side- and top-view cameras.Under the Hood
Never has BMW offered the 6 Series in so many flavors. The V8-powered, rear-drive 650i Coupe and 650i Convertible remain the core of the lineup, but all-wheel drive will help BMW dealers in the north move more metal, while the availability of a turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine is welcome news for those $10,000 shy of the V8's mid-$80k sticker or wanting highway fuel economy in the 30-mpg range.
3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder
315 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 (auto)
4.4-liter turbocharged V8
400 horsepower @ 5,500-6,400 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 (automatic), 15/22 (manual), 15/20 (xDrive)
The 2012 BMW 6 Series lineup starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $75,000 and tops out beyond $115,000 when fully loaded. Compared to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL and 2012 Jaguar XK Coupe and Convertible, the 2012 BMW 6 Series clearly represents more car for the money. Both the BMW 6 Series and Mercedes-Benz SL promise to hold their values better than the Jaguar XK.