Despite a sun-soaked and palm tree lined boulevard setting, BMW didn't bring the new 6 Series Convertible to this year's LA Show. Instead, the handsome drop-top will have its international launch here in Cape Town next year!

Design-wise, the new 6 Series Convertible is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It lifts a number of design elements from the recently-revealed 6 Series Coupé Concept – most notably that long, sloping bonnet and a strong shoulder crease that swoops down into the swage line on the flanks. Perhaps the biggest change is at the rear, where a deep bumper and distinctive horizontally-swept brake lights lend the car a more graceful appearance than its forerunner.

BMW has moved away from the folding hardtop set-up featured on its current Z4 lineup in favour of a weight-saving soft top with a double buttress design. The top takes 19 seconds to concertina into a compartment just ahead of the boot and 24 seconds to raise at speeds of up to 40 km/h.
The new 6-Series is 74 mm longer, 39 mm wider, and 9 mm shorter than its predecessor. BMW claims that this marginal growth will free up additional space for those in the rear as well asan improvement in boot space. Roof up, the new car’s boot measures 350 dm³ of luggage which drops to 300 dm ³ with the top dropped.

Much like the exterior, the cabin is not dramatically different to that of the outgoing car, but BMW claims to have paid more attention to the quality of the materials employed therein. The most noteworthy cabin feature is probably a reworked version of iDrive with a 10,2-inch display and an interface that allows emails to be filtered into the system via a Bluetooth feed from the driver’s Blackberry. As with the 1 Series convertible, a number of upholstery choices (including Nappa leather) will be offered with “SunReflective” technology that keeps the seats cooler on summer days to prevent the griddled backside phenomenon that often results from parking a convertible in a sunny spot.

Two engines will initially be offered. First up will be a turbocharged 3,0-litre straight-six earmarked for the 640i. This unit will develop 239 kW and 450 N.m of torque – good enough for a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 5,7 seconds. The 650i will feature BMW’s 4,4-litre twin-turbo V8, which is capable of propelling the Convertible from 0-100 km/h in 5,0 seconds. Both models are electronically restricted to a top speed of 250 km/h. BMW will offer both models with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the company’s 8-speed automatic transmission will be an optional extra.

All too often chopping the roof compromises a car’s handling, but BMW claims to have countered this by underpinning this model with an advanced suspension system comprising an aluminium-intensive double wishbone front axle and a multi-link rear. This set-up is augmented by the standard fitment of the company’s Dynamic Damper Control, which can be further bolstered by an optional Active Roll Stabilization system that keeps body roll in check. Integral Active Steering (an Active Steering system for the front axle with a steerable rear axle) is another feature that should lend the new 6 Series Convertible a useable blend of around town maneuverability and open road agility.

The international launch of the new BMW 6 Series Convertible will take place in Cape Town in early February 2011. It’s just one of the exciting new models outlined in CAR magazine’s “All the new cars for 2011” feature in the December 2010 issue, on sale now.