16 October 2003

Autocar has finally got behind the wheel of BMW’s controversially styled and hi-tech 6-series coupé.

Driving the 645Ci at the Spanish launch, Autocar editor Steve Sutcliffe gave it the thumbs up, describing it as ‘a hugely seductive everyday car, a great cruiser and a good sports GT. But no sports car.’

Munich’s newest 2+2 rides on the current 5-series chassis but manages to outpoint its saloon brother on the road. Where the Five lacks handling balance over a lumpy B-road, the 6-series feels more resolved and intuitive, with better front-end grip.

The 329bhp 4.4-litre V8 we tested is the only engine currently on offer, fitted with standard six-speed manual or optional six speed auto or paddle shift SMG ‘box. In 2005 we’ll be getting a 3.0-litre straight six and a 500bhp V10-engined M6.

Styling-wise, the 645Ci belongs to the 7-series era of BMW design. It’s at its best in profile, the long bonnet line, shallow glasshouse and dramatically sloping roofline, perfectly captures the coupé’s personality. But the clumsy, inelegant rear inherits the Seven’s bulky, added on look and is sure to be the focus of much criticism.

Inside, this two-door coupé is a full four-seater with wonderful leather buckets and a terrific driving position. The dashboard is heavily based on the 5-series, including the simplified iDrive system.

The 645Ci hits UK showrooms next March costing £49,850, putting it in the firing line of the Mercedes CL500 and Jaguar XK8. Unusually, a convertible version will also appear at the same time although prices for the ragtop have yet to be decided.

Read the full story in this week’s Autocar

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