9 December 2003

Revealed here is BMW’s first-ever convertible 6-series, and the photographs suggest that the sexy convertible carries off design chief Chris Bangle’s controversial lines more successfully than its coupe sibling.

Munich has ignored the current rush towards folding metal hard tops in favour of a traditional canvas roof. The vertical glass rear screen drops into the bulkhead independently of the hood.

At the March launch, just the 645Ci will be offered for £55,355. An extra 200kgs of weight over the coupe (up to a hefty 1815kg) adds half a second to the 0-62mph time, which now stands at 6.1sec for the manual and 6.2sec for the auto. Top speed is limited to the usual 155mph.

The firm’s three transmission options of manual, automatic or SMG sequential will all be available from launch, mated to the 392bhp 4.4-litre V8.

Other versions will follow 12 months later, including a six-pot 630Ci and V8 635Ci, plus a monster 500bhp V10 M6 for late 2005. However, BMW has said it won’t build a diesel 6-series cabrio.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Caravelle 2003-2015

The Volkswagen Caravelle is a rugged workhorse to carry people and luggage. That's why it is so popular as an airport taxi

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The car is described as a 2+2, but BMW claims the two individual rear seats offer enough headroom for adults, thanks to the more compact fabric hood. Boot space drops from the coupé’s 450 litres to 350 litres with the roof up, 300 with it stowed. That compares with the Jaguar XK8’s 306 litres whatever the roof position.

The all-electric hood will drop while the car is moving at up to 20mph but BMW hasn’t yet declared the operation time. A layer of noise- and heat-insulating plastic dampens road noise and keeps out the elements.

BMW also offers a wind deflector that slots over the rear seat to create a relatively draft-free interior for those in the front. It folds into the boot when the rear seats are in use. Pop-up roll-over bars are active whether the roof is up or down, and standard safety equipment includes head, side and knee airbags and inertiareel belts with pretensioners integrated into the seat.

Technical advances from the new 5-series are on the Six cabrio’s options list, such as adaptive headlights, active steering, and a head-up display that projects information into the driver’s line of vision.

The convertible will appear at January’s Detroit show. BMW GB forecasts 1000 sales a year.

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Our Verdict

Volkswagen Caravelle 2003-2015

The Volkswagen Caravelle is a rugged workhorse to carry people and luggage. That's why it is so popular as an airport taxi

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week