BMW 6 Series

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BMW 6 Series Coupe

Road Test

BMW 6 Series 640i SE driven

Driven October 2011

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The point of a swish 60-grand coupe is to make you feel like Mr Someone. Or Ms Someone, of course. But this one is just making me feel diminished. From the driver's seat, I can't reach and get something out of the glovebox. I feel like a scale model of myself.

Why so vast? BMW is candid. It's not to give you more useful space, nor to make it grip harder or roll less. But to make it look good. It's got the beam of a 7-Series, though it's a full 12cm lower. Wide and low is the formula all car designers fight for, and here they won. Walk up to the new 6 Coupe, plip the locks and open the door, and onlookers will know you're a senior member of the Someone family.

It's not just the proportions that make it a different-looking car from the previous, experimental and spiky 6-Series. It abandons the intimidation of the avant-garde, and instead is an immediately rather beautiful car. Easily frightened Florida plastic surgeons might be the prime market, but Adrian van Hooydonk's crowd have put love into the details so it hasn't blanded out. We're loving the return of the negative-rake shark-nose grille. And inside, finish and design are back on a par with Audi.

It's not just the glovebox that's a long way away. The outside world is even more remote. Forget sensations of speed or intimacy with the road. Sure, the 6-Series can career down an autobahn at 155mph, and take corners at qualifying pace. But all the time you feel like you're sitting up in a deeply upholstered king-size bed in the Hotel de Posh, for some reason holding a steering wheel. The 6-Series convertible gives you a bit of a breeze, like you've opened the French windows onto your hotel balcony, but this coupe denies you even that.

The 6 Convertible came out first so as to catch the northern-hemisphere summer. The coupe is fashionably late, but the really tardy 6-Series doesn't arrive till next year - a four-door to rival the Merc CLS (now in its second generation) and Audi's A7.

The choice is a 640d, a 650i twin-turbo V8 and the one I'm in, a 640i turbo straight-six. It's a ruddy impressive engine, but not an adorable one. The mellow-voiced surge is implacable, but it doesn't have the pin-sharp pick-up or electrifying noise of old-school unblown BMW sixes. Still, I guess the torque suits the purpose of the car.

The test car had active four-wheel steering, and it didn't change my mind. However much they keep fitting it, I still hate it - laa laaa laaaa, not listening. There's always a vague sticky hesitation around the straight ahead. It gets better in sharp bends, but even so, it's an extra best left unticked.

Anyway, there are dozens of other options to feed your gadgetaholism. Toys to play with when you're stuck in traffic on a commute. Or better still, to support you on a really long journey. Because that's really what this car is for.

Paul Horrell

We like: Looks, tech
We don't like: Too big
The verdict: A luxury wafter and GT, not a sports coupe. Too conservative - we'll pass and wait for the i8
Performance: 0-62mph in 5.4secs, max 155mph, 36.7mpg
Tech: 2979cc 6cyl, RWD, 320bhp, 332lb ft, 1660kg, 179/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: DAB, £315
And avoid this: Active steering, £1,220

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