First Drive: 2012 BMW 6 Series Coupe

2-door lovers, rejoice!

by on Jul.01, 2011

BMW has been building coupes for more than 80 years.

This review has been updated to reflect new information about pricing and the U.S. availability of the BMW640i Coupe.

BMW aficionados know the Bavarian brand has a long tradition of building coupes – dating back to 1928, shortly after the onetime aircraft maker entered the automotive business.

It all began with the Model3, which was based on a design borrowed from Austin’s Dixi 3. It took nearly another decade before BMW was ready to go it alone, introducing the 327, its first coupe in the modern sense, in 1937. In total only 179 units were built before production was ended, in 1941, as war swept through Europe. But it established BMW’s reputation for building some of the world’s most desirable 2-doors, an image that it intends to bolster with the upcoming launch of the all-new 2012 BMW 6-Series Coupe.

Subscribe Now!

The launch of the coupe follows the debut of the well-received 6-Series Cabriolet, which BMW wisely chose to roll out first, hoping to catch buyers desperate to enjoy the summer sun.  Two Coupe versions will be available, initially, the big, V-8-powered 650i, and the smaller, but still peppy 640i.

Other variants will follow, including an all-wheel-drive offering, though there appear to be no plans – at least not yet – to bring the 640d, with its 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder diesel, to the States.  All-Wheel-Drive, or as BMW prefers, xDrive, will be added to both Coupe and Convertible in September 2011.

BMW decided to go with the new 6-Series Cabriolet first, following up with the new Coupe, while an M6 is still under development.

No surprise, the initial variants of the 6-Series Coupe share the same powerplants as the 6-er Cabriolet.  For American consumption, there’s the big 4.4-liter V8 of the 650i, making a neck-snapping 407 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.  That will deliver you to 60 in just 4.8 seconds and take you to a top speed of 155 mph – if you can find a place to push into triple digits in the States.

During a first drive of the new 6-Series Coupe, availability was limited to the 640i — which we have now confirmed will also be available in the U.S. in Coupe form — and to be honest: who would need more? (Though, no doubt, if I’d have a choice, the V-8 still makes my heart flutter.) But back to the six-cylinder power plant: it delivers 320 hp at 5,800-6,000 rpm and  332 lb-ft of torque between 1,300 and 4,500 rpm, sprints from zero to 62 mph in 5.4 seconds and reaches a (limited) top speed of 155 mph.

A familiar layout to the new 6-er Coupe's interior.

Cruising on the Autobahn close to Munich the BMW 640i Coupe proved comfortable and quiet. Notwithstanding a weight of 3,660 pounds, acceleration was swift making passing on two lane roads effortless and confidence-inspiring.  No matter what you demand, there also seems to be more power in reserve.

According to Heinz Krusche, BMW’s chassis expert, the coupe is set up for sportier driving than the convertible. That is why BMW offers no optional sport suspension for the Coupe. People who want to take the ‘6’ to its limits will have to wait for the M6 variant that’s also in the planning stages.

The 650i Coupe will be the first version earmarked for the U.S. market.

I did not miss a special sport package, though, since the Coupe’s handling is precise and agile. There is hardly any roll and with its electro-mechnical steering it works the corners with pleasure, staying absolutely neutral at higher speeds, higher than most drivers will ever push to.

I felt instantly at ease in the well-executed cabin with high quality leather and the familiar layout and ergonomics of the BMW console, wheel and instrument panel.

It was also easy to find the right seating position. While I could not see the end of the long nose, but that is no problem. The size feels right and not overdone and I never had the feeling that the car is too big.

Plenty of cargo space for the Coupe.

The European version of the 650i starts at $ 93,000.  We’re waiting for BMW to finalize prices for the U.S. version, but it should come in about $8,000 under the $91,375 MSRP of the 650i Cabriolet.

That’s not cheap, but considering the package, the performance – and the heritage – we expect to see plenty of folks lining up as soon as the first of the new BMW 6-Series Coupes reach U.S. showrooms.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.