In its 93 year history, BMW has only produced two generations of the 6-Series: the original from 1976 to 1989, and the current model introduced in 2003. But these days a product cycle over five years is growing long in the proverbial tooth, so the Bavarian automaker is preparing to launch the third-generation 6 by 2011.

Although it is hard to tell much from the spy shots of this heavily disguised test mule, the 2011 6-Series is expected to follow the same form as the current model, although like the new 7-Series and Z4 roadster, it will feature toned-down styling to minimize the controversial "flame surfacing" technique and the so-called "Bangle Butt" that characterizes the current model.

While this convertible test mule appears to be wearing a soft-top, sources point out that the new 6 is expected to go with a folding hard hat in its next iteration (remember that mules for the original Z4 were initially spied wearing a faux canvas roof, only to have the production car carry a retractable hard-top,). It is too early to tell if that means that a hard-top convertible will be the only version offered, but given that the two-door 3 Series is offered in both coupe and cabrio bodystyles, our money is on the 6 Series continuing down both paths.

[Source: CarScoop]