BMW is prepping a Nurburgring lap time-hungry 6 Series.
It wasn't so long ago that BMW held a reign of terror on the performance car world, outstripping Mercedes and Audi with its angry V10 and V8 M cars that seemed to strike the perfect balance between luxury and delivery of outrageous driving thrill. The M division is still a heavy name in the industry, but AMG has been on the offensive and the world-beating two-door GT is symbolic of how far the brand has come as well as a signal of where it intends to go in the future.
The new trend, it seems, is to gun after Porsche. With the Panamera now being the luxury rocket of choice for elites who take pride in bouncing off of apexes cleanly before handing the keys to a valet at a white tie event, Mercedes had to jump on the bandwagon and deliver the four-door AMG GT Concept. Where does that leave BMW M? With a few luxury sedans and coupes, stupidly fast SUVs, and an M6 Gran Coupe that turns heads but falls just a bit short of the Panamera's inexplicably sexy ire. Speaking with Kate Alini, Product Manager of BMW North America for the BMW 6 Series and BMW 7 Series at the 2017 New York Auto Show, we learned that BMW is headed down the same route.
The 6 Series has been the subject of much talk lately. Speculation says it will morph into more of a Porsche 911 competitor and build an 8 Series to scoop up the grand touring crowd, although previous bad news indicated that BMW would axe the 6 Series Gran Coupe in favor of the uglier Gran Turismo body style. While Alini didn't specify which statements would become truth (although she did give a firm no for to a 6 Series wagon), she alluded to a revolutionary 6 Series sedan that would shed its comfort focus and turn into much more of a driver's car. "The next iteration of the 6 will surprise a lot of people. It will be a showstopper for sure." Not that luxury will be absent, just that performance will be much higher of a priority.
"In terms of luxury, it will deliver a perfect balance of high end fit and finish on the interior and be striking from the exterior. The next 6 Series is going to be much more of a driving-oriented vehicle though, less for cruising and better at handling." In our experience, BMW tends to know what it's doing when setting up sports car suspension that also offers comfort on the autobahn, so it's not far-fetched to expect the German automaker to build the next 6 Series as more of a Porsche Panamera and four-door AMG GT competitor. So far it's not too far off the mark. A 2014 comparison between the M6 Gran Coupe, Mercedes CLS63 AMG, and Audi RS6 saw the Bimmer take the second place podium above the Merc.
The Porsche Panamera, however, has raised the bar, bringing Nurburgring lap times and drop-dead gorgeous styling into the mix (on the second generation). The 6 Series is a looker though it could use improvement in this writer's humble opinion, but performance will be the differentiating factor. Alini alluded to something we all expected, the migration of the Cluster Architecture frame that the 7 Series and G30 5 Series has, to the rest of the lineup. With a stiffer, lighter skeleton and the possibility of an upcoming M5 with an all-wheel drive drivetrain being added to the parts bin, the 6 Series could well come equipped to do battle directly with the Panamera.
Porsche may be a little ahead of the curve in terms of combining raw power with efficiency, especially so with the 680 horsepower Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, but Alini claims that the rest of the BMW lineup is ready for the addition of electricity. With any luck, we'll be seeing an agile, comfortable 6 Series Gran Coupe in the near future that uses the latest technology the BMW 7 Series has while being boosted by gas-saving and EV-mode capable electric motors. Now remind us, who said the future had to be boring again?