The iDrive system also comes with the optional Head-Up Display. Instead of shifting your eyes to the left to see the display screen, you can view all pertinent information directly in front of you on the windshield, making the data appear as though it's on top of the hood. The Head-Up Display projects a clear, easy-to-read image that adjusts instantly to changing light conditions. The two 6 Series I drove didn't have the option installed, but based on the presentation material, it looks like a rather nifty system.
We had a full day to test out the new 6s on the winding back roads and fast-moving autopistas of southern Andaluca. Sixes? As in more than one? Technically, yes. There is only one engine offered at this time: BMW's much-vaunted Double VANOS/VALVETRONIC 4.4-liter V8, outputting 325 bhp at 6100 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm, with 0 to 60 being reached in 5.5 sec. But, there are three transmission choices: A six-speed manual as standard, a six-speed Steptronic automatic (no extra charge) and a six-speed SMG. (The SMG requires the Sport Package and has a delayed availability in the U.S.)
If there ever was a car made for the SMG, the 645Ci is it. The sequential transmission has been specifically geared for the 4.4-liter V8. The difference has to do with the Dynamic Drive Control system, activated by the Sport button, which alters the throttle response time, the gear rev limits, gearshift timing and the steering effort. Shifting is smooth and seamless; there is no noticeable lag in shift time, as there is with the Z4. Using the steering wheel-mounted paddles to change gears just adds to the fun. Concentrate on the deep, rumbly sound of the V8 as you flick a paddle back to downshift, and you just might convince yourself you're driving a BMW-Williams race car.
As much as I liked the SMG, the six-speed manual is truly the only way to go. Being able to row through the gears with a shifter built the way only BMW can-perfectly-is to experience automotive bliss. A quick twitch of the wrist and the chosen gear instantly mates and harmonizes with the V8's revs. Powershifting the 645Ci around corners, through curves, down long stretches of road is intoxicating. You'll want to find reasons to prolong the drive, just so you can row through the gears again and again. (Note: I didn't get to drive the automatic version, but based on time behind the wheel of an automatic 530i, the Steptronic in the 6er coupe should perform admirably.)
Part of that intoxication comes from the coupe's superior chassis setup, which features aluminum double-pivot-type front suspension and rear aluminum four-link integral rear suspension, both of which are sport tuned and use coil springs and twin-tube gas-pressure shocks at all four corners. The brakes are inner-ventilated discs with aluminum/cast-iron compound rotors and aluminum calipers, sized 13.7 in. in front and 13.6 in. at the rear. Both the suspension and braking systems are controlled by a variety of handling systems. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)-which includes Dynamic Traction Control-electronic brake proportioning, antilock-braking (ABS), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and cornering/braking stability enhancement all work together in concert, allowing you to get away with a very spirited driving style-and all without fear of losing control if you happen to go a wee bit too far, too fast.