Fleet News

BMW 645Ci Convertible

BMW

Review

I didn't hesitate for long before ticking the 'I accept' box after learning that the car to accompany me on this mammoth trek was the new BMW 6-series Convertible.

BMW believes a large proportion of 6-series drivers will be independent businessmen aged between 40 and 55 who want 'solid reliability, value for money, brand status, outstanding design and useable performance'.

The sports and luxury car segments are experiencing massive growth and BMW expects to sell about 1,700 hardtop coupes and half as many convertibles a year. Three-quarters of buyers will be men.

The company sees its main rivals as the Jaguar XK8 convertible, Porsche 911 Carrera 4 cabrio and the Mercedes SL500 and SL350 – a rather accomplished group.

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The car was launched at the same time as the 6-series coupe, a modern day interpretation of the classic 6-series from the 1980s.

The Convertible's roof unfolds in 20 seconds and can be operated at speeds of up to 20mph. Standard equipment includes dynamic stability control (DSC), dynamic brake control (DBC), run-flat tyres, windscreen with laminated safety glass, cruise control, automatic air-conditioning, single CD player, sports multi-function steering wheel, and park distance control (PDC).

Optional equipment includes active steering (£675), adaptive headlights (£405), dynamic drive (£1,755), six-CD changer (£270), automatic gearbox six-speed with Steptronic and AGS (£1,350), leather upholstery (£950), front sports seats (£610) and professional navigation system (£1,840).

The car is made using four different bodywork materials, steel, aluminium and two plastics, a move aimed at reducing its weight.

A spokesman said: 'Low weight affords greater dynamism, improved safety, enhanced environmental compatibility and increased comfort.'

The car comes with a choice of three six-speed transmissions – a conventional manual, an automatic with Steptronic manual selection or the sequential paddle-shift clutchless SMG system.

It features 18-inch alloy wheels as standard with a range of 18-inch and 19-inch alloys available as options.

And it is powered by a silky smooth 4.4-litre V8 engine. While silent at idle, blipping the throttle produces a fabulous eight-cylinder growl, with the exhaust note tuned for aural pleasure. With 333bhp at your disposal, there are few better pleasures to be had.

Behind the wheel

MY journey, along with co-driver, started in Malaga, where the temperature had reached nearly 25 degrees centigrade while some parts of Britain were covered in snow.

Such warmth also meant we could use the car to its full potential – with the roof down, a one-touch process that could draw a crowd. In fact, it might seem obvious to say the BMW 645 Ci Convertible is a head turner but it is such a head turner that to ignore that fact would be doing it an injustice. The combination of bold lines, subtle curves and sneering front end means it attracts a lot of attention. Be warned: it's not a car to pick your nose in – you will be spotted.

Its 333bhp was put to good use after finding the motorway and reaching a relaxed cruise for blasting across Europe, the engine barely ticking over at the legal limit.

Our love affair with open-top motoring was over as far as the first local convenience store because the heavens opened as we crossed over to the French border – and stayed open.

With spray so severe you could barely see 10 yards ahead, the road conditions presented another challenge, with plenty of standing water.

However, the BMW always felt surefooted. Not once did we aquaplane as it tore through layers of water with ease. In times of cooler weather on such a long journey it's always nice to let some fresh air in but opening a side window even slightly causes obtrusive wind noise.

The 6-series answers this problem with an electrically-powered vertical rear window that can be raised and lowered with the roof open or closed. It provides decent ventilation with no noise at all. With the roof down it also acts as a handy wind guard to prevent buffeting.

Driving the 6-series convertible is an exhilarating experience, with handling unaffected by the loss of its roof. It's a car that makes the driver feel special. It offers excellent comfort and is roomier than you would imagine – boot space with the roof up is 350 litres.

I can happily report I had no aches or pains. In fact, as soon as I awoke in the mornings I couldn't wait to get back inside and on the road again. BMW stresses that passengers in the rear enjoy the same levels of comfort as those in the front but I wouldn't want to be a rear seat passenger for too long. Driving verdict

The 6-series Convertible is the perfect motorway cruiser that also provides lots of fun around town – mainly by entertaining the crowds of onlookers. It's a stunning, classy car with a superb ride quality and plenty of power, and – looking at the competition – at a decent price.

Model: 645Ci 6-series Convertible
Engine (cc): 4,398
Max power (bhp/rpm): 333/6,100
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 332/3,600
Max speed (mph): 155
0-60mph (secs): 6.1 (6.2)
Fuel consumption (mpg): 22.1 (24.6)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 310 (279)
Transmission: 6-sp man/6-sp Steptronic auto
On sale: now
Price: £55,355 OTR
(Figures in brackets for auto)

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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