2004 645 New Car Test Drive
After a lengthy hiatus, BMW's big coupe is back. The all-new BMW 6 Series delivers stellar performance, brilliant handling, and that arrow-like stability that marks this marque. The new 645Ci is a Grand Touring coupe. It's a unique vehicle in the current BMW lineup.
Though it has recently expanded its line to cover a broad range of vehicles, BMW has historically been known for its sports sedans. Its coupes and convertibles date back to the late 1930s, however. They started with the beautiful 1938 327 Coupe with sweeping fenders and available two-tone paint. That was quickly followed by a specially built 328 coupe that won the prestigious Mille Miglia in 1940. For most Americans, however, this new BMW recalls coupes of the mid-1970s: the 1968 2800 CS Coupe, the 1975 3.0 CSi, the 3.0 CSL, and the 6 Series cars that debuted in 1976. The highly regarded 635CSi was a member of this last-generation 6 Series. And the 8 Series coupes of the early 1990s are also considered part of BMW's big coupe lineage.
Now, a decade later comes this new line of 6 Series cars. The 645Ci coupe and 645Ci convertible models are essentially hard top and soft top versions of the same car. Bristling with the latest in technology, they are based on the superb new 5 Series chassis but are not simply two-door versions of the sedans. The 6 Series cars are modern GTs, or Gran Turismo cars. They offer greater luxury and comfort than the Z4 sports car, yet with higher performance, more agile handling, and sportier styling than the 5 Series sports sedans. The 645Ci Coupe and 645Ci Convertible each qualify as an ultimate driving machine, yet can be driven all day in perfect comfort.
Though launched as 2004 models, the new 6 Series cars are for all practical purposes 2005 models.
The BMW 645Ci Coupe ($69,300) and 645Ci Convertible ($76,300) are nearly identical in temperament and equipment. Leather upholstery, a choice of rich interior trim, and a long list of luxury features are standard.
BMW's 4.4-liter V8 power the 645Ci models, delivering 325 horsepower to the rear wheels. A choice of transmissions includes six-speed manual gearbox (standard), six-speed automatic with Steptronic (a no-cost option), and a six-speed sequential manual gearbox ($1,500).
Options include Sirius satellite radio ($500); heated front seats ($450); park distance control ($700), active cruise control ($2,200); head-up display ($1,500). They come standard with a sports suspension, 18-inch wheels and xenon headlamps, but a Sport Package ($2,800) adds active steering, 19-inch sport wheels with run-flat tires, and sport seats. A Premium Sound Package ($1,800) includes Logic7 audio with six-disc CD changer. A Cold Weather Package ($700) includes heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a ski bag.