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BMW's sizzling 6 Series spied

Sixth sense: Automotive designer Bernie Walsh thinks the new 6 Series will look a lot like this.

Test versions of the 6 Series are spotted on the road in Europe

8 Feb 2002

IT'S still a year away, but the excitement is already rising as disguised test mule versions of BMW's reborn 6 Series coupe are spotted on the roads of Europe.

We've let our expert auto stylist Bernie Walsh loose on the images and here's what he thinks we'll see when the covers are whipped off the production version at the Geneva motor show in 2003.

And Mr Walsh is giving the reborn 6 the thumbs-up.

"BMW has traditionally done sporty cars and coupes well and the 6 looks to be no exception," he said.

"There's a connection to the Z9 concept car shown at Frankfurt in 1999 and the development from that has been well executed - certainly better than the 7 Series sedan." Based on the next generation 5 Series platform, the 6 is expected to be about 4.8 metres in length and seat four adults.

According to European reports, inline six-cylinder and V8 versions of the new 6 will be unveiled in 2003, followed by a power-packed V10 version in 2004, fettled by BMW's hot-rod "M" division.

The M6 is tipped to break through the 500 horsepower (370kW) barrier and boast even stronger performance than the hyper-performance Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, which has a 4.6 second 0-100km/h time and a top speed of more than 320km/h.

But the entry level version of the 6 will be the 630Ci, powered by the 170kW 3.0-litre six already used in a variety of BMW models.

According to the authoritative English Autocar magazine, this engine will incorporate the fuel- saving Valvetronic technology, not currently available on BMW's inline sixes.

The next step up is a 200kW, 3.6-litre V8 called the 635Ci and then it is on to the 245kW, 4.4-litre V8 645Ci. These two units are about to go on sale in Australia in the 7 Series luxury saloon and already incorporate Valvetronic technology.

A key aspect of the 6 package will be its relatively light weight with kerb weight tipped to start at 1600kg, which will aid performance.

Autocar reports that from the A-pillar forward the load bearing structure is largely aluminium and other extruded aluminium sections are bonded and riveted to the main steel monocoque. The strut front and multi-link rear suspension is also alloy.

Expect to see power transmitted to the rear wheels via the six-speed automatic gearbox introduced with the 7 Series, while the latest version of the SMG sequential manual will be an option.

Other new-age technologies include brake-by-wire, the hydraulic Dynamic Drive roll-bar adjustment system, ED-C electronic damping and the i-Drive multi-function control system.

For drop-top fans the good news is a convertible is also being developed, although it will not have a folding metal roof.

BMW has decided to stick with a cloth top because of concerns about packaging and weight.

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