Diversity at its limits: The new BMW 6 Series in the South of France
Ape to Gentleman had the pleasure of being invited by BMW to put the three models of their new BMW 6 Series through their paces during two days of road trip fun and testing in the South of France.
Flying into the culturally rich city of Marseille, we spent a day driving through varying Provencal landscapes. Marseille and its surrounding areas make for the perfect test environment with open roads, tight curves, narrow streets and quaint French villages. Each different scenario allowed us to experience the depth of features that each of the new BMW 6 Series models had to offer- dynamic yet luxurious and comfortable.
In stark contrast, on the second day- we experienced the power and sportiness of the new 6 Series, at BMW’s test track for a chance to photograph and try first-hand the 6 Series flexing their muscles and showing off their diversity.
Each of three cars had varying features, we discuss them below and highlight some of our favourite ones.
BMW offered three models of the new, face-lifted 6 Series. There are several versions of the 6 Series, but we get a very special trio: The 650i Coupé, the 650i xDrive Gran Coupé and the 640d Convertible – seeing these elegant beasts sitting in the Provencal sunshine was a welcome sight, we tip our cap to the Bavarian designers back in Germany. Equally exciting, was the improved performance on offer, but we’ll come to that later.
You might expect quality as ‘standard’ from BMW, and the 6 Series is no different- both in and out, the cars are considered to the last detail with a feel of highest quality finishings. Luxury and comfort is palpable, which incidentally can all be individually customise when choosing your new car. Because of that, it was clear: all three models were totally different equipped.
BMW 6 Series 650i Coupé
First up was the BMW 6 Series 650i Coupé, equipped with exclusive individual features. Painted in BMW Individual Citrin Black Metallic, looking particularly handsome in the brightly shining Marseille sun.
Inside the car, style and comfort was evident instantly, with a driver-centric layout, clearly contoured lines and a highly detailed instrument panel. Each aspect of the 650i interior was crafted with finest-quality materials.
The 650i Coupé was equipped with a BMW individual interior finish in piano black and full Merino leather with contrast stitching in black/platinum. The Merino leather offers a sun reflective technology, which keeps your seats and steering wheel cooler- even in direct sunlight. These details maybe minor but they add to the overall comfort experience, particularly useful in the 30°C+ Marseille heat.
The 650i Coupé looked different in terms of the exterior features when compared to the other cars. It delivers a more athletic body shape and a high-gloss Shadow Line, courtesy of the “BMW Character Package: Design Pure Experience”.
A few minutes later, we hit the road. Driving around the narrow streets and coastal roads of Marseille – it was good opportunity to get a feeling for what BMW describes as “Driving Dynamics”. Cycle through the different settings, for comfort, or a tighter feel with higher revs for better road holding, high-precision steering and immediate responsiveness. These are a couple of key features responsible for BMW’s ”Sheer Driving Pleasure”.
“Driving Experience Control” offered us the choice between a Comfort Mode, for the standard engine and transmission settings, an Eco Pro Mode, which is geared towards greater efficiency, and a Sport Mode, which enables even more dynamic driving. The differences between all these modes, is most noticeable- for example on day one we drove mainly with the Eco Pro Mode. We were impressed with how fuel-efficient the day was.
One of our favourite features was planned for the second day, but we can’t resist: So we played around with the Sports Exhaust System. This thunderous noise bringing the engine sound to life and adding to the sporty design. The full-bodied sound of the Sports Exhaust System perfectly complements the vehicle’s overall athleticism. The sound can be modified using an integrated exhaust valve mechanism, which is controlled by the “Driving Experience Control”.
BMW 6 Series 650i xDrive Gran Coupé
The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé with xDrive is an absolutely exclusive car, perhaps our favourite of the three. The Gran Coupé is all about luxury and comfort combined with Driving Dynamics.
Painted in Space Grey Metallic and supplied with the M Sport Package, with an elegantly-shaped M Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel, it’s ideal for grip during quick changes of direction and, God-forbid, corrections.
The interior was finished in Black Dakota Leather and Aluminum Trim along with Individual High-Gloss Satin Chrome and Individual Roof-Lining- all part of the BMW Individual Collection.
Another notable feature, made for the hot weather was the Green Stripe Climate Comfort Windscreen which helps keep the cabin at a comfortable temperature by reducing the effects of direct and indirect sunlight. This along with climate control technology made the ride extremely comfortable. Something totally unexpected however, was the Automatic Air Conditioning with 4-zone control allowing us to individually adjust the temperature of every seat- if the driver prefers a cool climate with – let’s say – 18°C and his co-driver or the passengers in the rear want a 22°C temperature, it’s a perfectly reasonable shout.
The xDrive (all-wheel drive) system was great for being ‘nimble’ on the open road but we were blown away by it when pushing it to the limit on day two at the test track. The ‘intelligent’ BMW xDrive all-wheel drive system adapts to any road surface conditions, ensuring optimal traction. xDrive and “Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)” ensure that the car remains remarkably stable at all times- stability which we found to be truly staggering.
Luxury and Comfort
Given the animalistic like tendencies of the 6 Series Gran Coupé, spaciousness and comfort were not lost. Each and every detail inside the car is geared towards maximum comfort- with the driver and front-seat passenger benefitting from the sporty flair of the cockpit- the Driver Orientation System. When you are sitting inside the BMW 6 Series, there are many buttons to press, with every switch intuitively located.
Just to our right there was space for the optional, free-standing 10.25″ full-colour display which you can operate with one hand, we used the “iDrive Touch Controller”.
Notable tech included Surround View with camera-based functions; Top View, Side View and rear view camera. Cameras in the exterior mirrors and a rear view camera provide a 270° view around the vehicle. Because of the size of the BMW 6 Series 650i xDrive Gran Coupé all these cameras keep you and others outside safe.
On the first night we drove back from Aix-en-Provence after a delicious meal in this fantastic town – presenting an opportunity to trial the Adaptive LED headlights with integrated low-beam and high-beam functions which automatically adjust the light distribution to suit the driving speed, thereby dynamically illuminating the road ahead.
The BMW Head-Up Display which projects all relevant information for the journey directly in full colour and high res into the driver’s field of vision, despite being available day or night, was particularly useful at night too- allowing us to focus on the road, yet still see the Professional Sat Nav and other critical information. Seeing this for the first time feels a bit like Science-Fiction directly from the USS Enterprise. But this current technology from BMW.
BMW 6 Series 640d Convertible
In Mediterranean Blue Metallic and a Special Dakota Leather in Cinnamon Brown, the motor boat inspired design, reflecting “agility, airstream and a forward thrust” looked superb, glistening in the Provencal sunshine.
Driving a convertible on a sunny hot day near the Mediterranean see: What comes in your mind? A feeling of freedom, luxury and a day off. Most of the time we just enjoyed driving and taking the car and scenery in. The car delivered a feeling of complete control- thanks to the interplay between suspension, precise steering and driving technology. For music enthusiasts amongst you, it was also equipped with a surround sound system by Bang & Olufson.
The engine was slightly less powerful than the two 650 models but the BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder diesel engine (also available for 6 Series Coupé/ Gran Coupé) delivers a more than fast power build-up but with a low level of fuel consumption. The engine combines CommonRail direct injection and multi-stage turbocharging with variable turbine geometry.
Luxury and Comfort
One thing you instantly notice with the convertible is the spaciousness and open-air freedom while retaining a completely comfortable ‘interior’ environment in the car. Thanks to the Driver Orientation System the cockpit of the convertible exudes sporty flair all-around as well.
There was another thing which we never experienced before: This car was equipped with the mind-boggling Parking Assistant which measures potential spaces while driving past at a low speed (below 35 km/h) and at a maximum distance of 1.5 m from a row of parked cars. It works semi-automatically. Once the car finds a fitting spot for itself, we were advised by the Control Display to take care of accelerator, gears and brakes. The steering wheel moved as if by magic. Making parallel parking… a thing of the past!
Technology (ConnectedDrive Services)
As a tech loving blog, we would like to discuss BMW’s optional ConnectedDrive Services. All BMW apps like “BMW Remote” (You can control your car from the distance via your Smartphone, for example set the temperature ahead of time or lock and unlock it.) or “BMW Lap Timer” (It’s like a running app, but this tracks your performance as a driver) can be found on the App Store, and many other non-BMW apps are compatible with BMWs ConnectedDrive system. So if you have the chance to get ConnectedDrive – we would recommend it. Seriously: Do it!
One feature that is listed under ConnectedDrive is the Concierge Service. We used it on day one, where we simply called the service and they told us where to find this delightful little restaurant just outside of Marseille within a minute. In fact, you can ask the concierge whatever you like, because you have a real person at the end of the line that acts like your butler. Ask them for the football score, a restaurant location and your personal genie will answer all your questions and send GPS data direct to your Sat Nav.
While driving we played around with BMW Online. It provides access to current, localised information such as weather, news, an online Google search and also office functions. In the applications menu, it is also possible to assemble an individualised array of services such as webcams, fuel price information, parking information, as well as travel and hotel guides.
BMW has produced a superb range of cars with the new 6 Series- modern, dynamic and performance, combined with style, luxury and comfort.
Suitable for calm, serene road trips with surfaces under any conditions – tearing up tarmac when you decide it’s time to unleash the beast.
It is the luxurious sports car.
*Sponsored by BMW