TEST DRIVE: 2016 BMW 640d xDrive Convertible

Test Drives | July 8th, 2016 by 14
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Back in 2003 24 years had passed since the original 6 Series range went out of production. After such a long hiatus, the 6er made …

Back in 2003 24 years had passed since the original 6 Series range went out of production. After such a long hiatus, the 6er made a comeback in the shape of the E63/64 Coupe/Convertible duo under the supervision of none other than Chris Bangle. And while their design was controversial, learning from their mistakes, the peeps at BMW decided to make sure that the one that came next wasn’t going to be as controversial. That’s how we ended up with the current BMW 6 Series Convertible, one of the best looking Bavarian cars available on the market today.

We have to admit that the 6 Series, in any given body type, is a stunner. Be it the Coupe, the Gran Coupe or the Convertible, this thing is an attention magnet as you’ve rarely seen. We recently were turning heads wherever we went, but it was probably due to the BMW 640d xDrive Convertible. The Melbourne Red Metallic paint that shined bright under the summer sun also favored our every trip.

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The new facelifted model was ever so slightly changed but those small add-ons or styling cues introduced were done in exactly the right place, being noticeable in the overall package. The front fascia of the car now seems so sharp you might be tempted to back away to avoid getting cut. The LED corona rings of the headlights are also of great effect as were the 20” light alloy wheels that were exactly as rough on our backs as they were beautiful. They did look great but were they worth the price our backs paid? Well, thankfully the car was fitted with adaptive dampers, so we were able to enjoy our time spent with the 6 Series in its Comfort setting.

This car is an easy ticket to a good life. Everyone treats you like royalty and everyone is a lot nicer once they see you driving it, especially around town.

Since this was a Convertible, and the weather was great most of the time, we spent our days driving around mostly with the top down, determined to make the most out of this GT. Alas, riding with the roof folded was also yet another means of attracting even more attention upon ourselves. The red exterior of the car contrasted quite nicely with the Cognac Nappa leather of the seats with black inserts. Needless to say, driving around town in one of these, with the top down will basically invite everyone around you to stop and stare at you and the interior of the car without any sense of shame or decency. And that’s okay if you like the attention but it could become quite bothering for some people. You may say that’s one of the things that all convertibles come with but you’d be wrong. This €120,000 car attracted considerably more attention than a lot of other Convertibles I tested over the years.

So what is it like to be treated like a celebrity? Well, it will depend on you, personally. This car is an easy ticket to a good life. Everyone treats you like royalty and everyone is a lot nicer once they see you driving it, especially around town. That’s exactly where this 6 Series is least in its element, though. Being just 7 inches shy in length of the BMW F01 7 Series it’s based on, the 6 Series Convertible is not all that easy to drive around town. Chip in the 20” and your continuous struggle not to rash them against any kind of curb and you’ll soon understand what we’re talking about, especially around narrow European roads.

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Furthermore, even though our tester was fitted with adaptive dampers, it struggled to make things comfortable inside the cabin. Even Comfort+ mode was unable to avoid sending uneasy jolts through the entire body of the car over hitting potholes. Maybe smaller wheels would perform better but then you wouldn’t get the stunning look and, maybe it’s a matter of personal choice, but we’d stick with the 20” wheels and keep driving in Comfort+ mode rather than go for a different style for the rims.

So, around town you’d be assaulted by curious looks from everyone else in traffic,  jolted by potholes and you’d find it hard to navigate through narrow, tight streets due to the car’s size. But is the 6 Series Convertible worth all this hassle?

Absolutely.

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There’s a reason why this model has the highest starting price in the BMW range (excluding M cars) these days. It’s gracious, exquisite and will turn into complete madness at the switch of a button. The dual character of the car is then complimented by the possibility of riding with the top down while being wrapped in the finest leather and sitting on the most comfortable seats you can buy from BMW today. Yes, this is something you need to experience.

And since the BMW 6 Series isn’t even close to the sports car some people want it to be, the Gran Touring character of the thing reveals itself completely once you decide to leave the crowded city limits. This is where the 6 Series Convertible truly shines.

Go for a drive on a beautiful coast or breathe in some clean mountain air while admiring the sky and you soon realize that life doesn’t get much better than this. On the highway, you can even drive at speeds up to 110 km/h (70 mph) with the top down and you won’t be terribly bothered by the winds coming your way. Raise the wind deflector in the back as well as all the windows and you can raise the speed up to 130 km/h (81 mph) in absolute comfort.

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Our tester was the 640d xDrive version fitted with the soon to be retired yet brilliant N57 3-liter straight six bi-turbo diesel engine, quite a peculiar choice but only to those that are against oil burners. Truth be told, I was one of them until I had this experience, which was truly eye-opening. The mill is an absolute peach to use and the smoothness it delivers in every single situation is hard to describe in words. Chip in the abundance of torque that you simply bathe in every single time and you won’t be willing to let this 313 HP engine go, ever again.

All that twist is rather needed too in order to keep the car going at a decent rate and avoid sitting behind the wheel of a slouch. After all, the 6 Series Convertible is not light on its feet by any means. Our tester tipped the scale at 1.9 tons (4,101 lbs), which kind of explains why BMW decided to go for a soft top instead of the hardtop system used on the 4 Series Convertible that would’ve added even more weight to the mix. Even so, this is just as heavy as some SUVs and you’d be tempted to think that due to its generous size you’ll have plenty of room inside to take your significant other and another couple along for a longer trip. Well, we’re sad to tell you that you may be wrong.

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In typical GT fashion, the rear seats are rather restrictive. Sure, you can accommodate living beings back there but they’d better be children or small pets. Getting in the back is also quite troublesome, especially with the roof up, requiring some gymnastics you may not be proud of.

To top everything off, as you’d expect, most of the room in the boot is also stripped away due to the folding roof. We had trouble fitting two medium sized travel bags in there and that’s rather disappointing. That being said, the BMW 6 Series Convertible is best enjoyed in two, with the wind deflector installed over the rear seats and maybe some of your luggage thrown under it as it won’t fit in the boot. All troubles aside, you’ll soon realize that in this configuration, this car is truly a joy to drive, especially on a highway shimmying along the seaside.

As we were telling you earlier, the only diesel engine of the range is a peach and if you’re able to forget your prejudice against going for an oil burner aboard a convertible, it will serve you well.

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Excluding the ultra-fast M6, you also get two other petrol units to choose from: the 640i and 650i. And while the former, 320 HP mill might be just enough to get your adrenaline fix, it’s just as fast or even slower (in xDrive guise) than its diesel brother. At the same time, it will sip considerably more fuel in any given situation. The same is true for the 650i that, while it is the fastest choice of the three, will be bested only by the M6 in terms of thirst.

That being said, the 640d Convertible would be our pick of the 6 Series range but without the xDrive system that our tester had.

Our car, on the other hand, was extremely frugal, especially on the highway, even with the top down, showing 38.5 mpg (6.1 l/100km) at average speeds of about 75 mph. Around town the figure dropped to 23.5 mpg (10 l/100 km) which is more than decent considering the size of the car and the traffic we were dealing with.

And yes, I know that if you can afford such an expensive car, the money spent on fuel won’t be an issue but trust me when I say that range will be. The fuel tank can only be so big and when you have to stop every 300 miles to refuel you’ll realize that you can live with a diesel engine, even on a Convertible.

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That being said, the 640d Convertible would be our pick of the 6 Series range but without the xDrive system that our tester had. Chances are you’re living in a warm climate already if you’re buying such a car. If you don’t you probably also have a second, more practical car sitting in your driveway that’s all-wheel drive and you can use during winter time, leaving the drop top in the garage.

Sure, xDrive is good to have for any given situation, to offer you a more sure-footed experience but then again, the situations in which it is truly needed are seldom. Therefore, we’d spend the money a bit differently, adding the Bang & Olufsen sound system to our car, as the Harman Kardon one we had on was not powerful enough at high speeds, when wind is whooshing through your hair. Leaving xDrive behind will also cut some weight off the generous hips of the car, helping out with the fuel consumption at the same time.

Where does all of this leave us? The BMW 6 Series Convertible may seem like a really bad deal at first, with cramped seats in the back and not a lot of overall practicality. But then again, that’s not why you buy one in the first place. No, you buy one to let people know that you made it and that you can afford one, even though it doesn’t really make sense.

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It’s a rewarding experience as well. No matter how many faults it had, our heart skipped a beat every time we took a look back at it from a distance, under the warm summer sun. It’s beautiful from every angle and it’s so desirable that it almost hurt when I had to give it back, after my time with it.

In terms of competitors, there’s little to be mentioned out there. There’s the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible but if you thought the 6 Series is expensive, you need to check out the Mercedes side of the story. The more rudimentary E-Class drop top is not as posh when it comes to cruising, while the SL Class has only two seats. Then there’s the Porsche 911 but in this case, you get a much more planted feeling in exchange for a new definition of ‘cramped rear seats’ that will make the 6 Series seem like a limousine by comparison.

Then there are the American drop tops of similar size, the Mustang and the Camaro but nobody in their right mind would ever cross shop between these models. Just take a close look at the leather-wrapped dash of the BMW to realize that it appeals to a completely different demographic.

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No, the 6 Series Convertible is still in a league of its own. It’s a great cruiser that makes a statement and heals your heart with its great looks. It may not be the most practical choice out there but how many of our choices aren’t dictated by emotions instead of lucidity and logic? This may just be the perfect example of how you can go mad and yet feel good about yourself at the same time.

 

Back in 2003 24 years had passed since the original 6 Series range went out of production. After such a long hiatus, the 6er made a comeback in the shape of the E63/64 Coupe/Convertible duo under the supervision of none other than Chris Bangle. And while their design was controversial,…

2016 BMW 640d xDrive Convertible

Exterior Appeal - 10
Interior Quality - 9
Steering Feedback - 8
Performance - 8
Handling - 7
BMWness/Ultimate Driving Machine - 8
Price Point - 7

8.1

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