Prototypes of the BMW 6-Series appear to sport a sleek profile and rakish lines. Could this attractive coupé win over those who criticised BMW design chief Chris Bangle for the look of the futuristic 7-Series?BMW enthusiasts around the globe are awaiting a worthy successor to the 3,0

CSi of the Seventies and the later 6-Series coupés that were discontinued

in 1989.

CARtoday.com reported in November last year that a CAR magazine staffer had

spotted a prototype of the Six during a visit to BMW AG’s BMW AG’s

headquarters in Munich. It appeared that the all-new Six had been heavily influenced

by the Z9 concept that first signalled BMW's future intentions a couple of years

ago.

However, company bosses deemed the styling of the Z9 - which was designed by

Dutchman Adrian van Hooydonk - too excessive. Therefore, the new 6 will look

like a toned-down version of the Z9, but feature the trademark twin-lamp headlights,

kidney-shaped grille and possibly the controversial bootlid from the new 7-Series.

It now appears BMW has learnt from its mistake with the 8-Series, which was

too big and not really sporty, and gone back to making a purist's driving machine

based on the next-generation 5-Series saloon platform. Could BMW’s 6-Series

offer a serious alternative to the Maserati Coupé, Jaguar XK8, Porsche

911 and Mercedes CLK?

Designated E63, this coupé model is likely to be launched officially

early next year, and an E64 convertible model is tipped to follow a year later.

Also said to be on the cards is a limited-edition stripped-out, lightweight

CSL version.

The original seventies CSL was stripped out and festooned with spoilers, and

is now highly collectable.

BMW's 172 kW three-litre straight-six, 201 kW 3,5-litre and 254kW 4,5-litre

V8 are expected to be offered on the 6-Series. According to 4car.co.uk, the

transmission systems will be six-speed manual or six-speed Steptronic ‘boxes.

Finer details of the styling are still being kept under wraps, but what is clear

is that the 6-Series will have a long curved nose, large double headlights,

a shark-like grille and gill-like air intakes in the front wings.

And, CAR reported in April that a 373 kW V10-engined M6 was due to be launched

in 2004. According to insiders, the engine “will build a bridge between

F1 and road cars”.

The five-litre V10 engine will reportedly rev to 7 000 r/min and provide performance

to defeat even the Mercedes Benz SL55’s 4,6 second zero to 100 km/h time

and 325 km/h top speed - that is, of course, if BMW relents and makes the M6

its first production car not to be restricted to 250 km/h. The M6 is also expected

to get the sportier SMG (sequential manual gearbox) as used in the current M3.