This is the startling new BMW 6-Series Cabrio. While the coupe was one of the show-stunners from the company's chief designer, Chris Bangle, in Frankfurt the other day, the cabrio will make its debut at the Geneva Show next March.
The prominent nose echoes the look of the Z4, with its rounded end, wide grille and unusual headlamp arrangement, while the tailgate and angular lamps are similar to those on the large saloons. Like the coupé, the new 6-Series Cabrio promises four seats and a generously equipped cabin. As well as being able to choose between manual and semi-automatic transmissions, drivers can expect electrically operated seats and windows - and of course the top.
Based on the 5-Series platform, the all-new 6 is likely to be impressive in terms of dynamic ability. BMW says it will be a true sports car, rather than a comfortable tourer along the lines of Jaguar's XK-range. The key to its abilities will lie in the chassis, which features Dynamic Drive. This system allows the person behind the wheel to subtly alter the suspension set-up from inside the cabin and adjust its ride and body roll.
Engine choices will be equally sporting, with entry-level models getting the 231-HP 3.0-litre unit currently in the 3 and 5-Series. A 3.0-litre diesel is also expected, but not until 2005. Two fur-ther petrol powerplants will be offered at launch - a 272-HP 3.6-litre straight-six and a 333-HP 4.4-litre V8. For maximum thrills, there will also be an M6 Cabrio - but not initially. It will appear after BMW has introduced the next-generation M5 late next year, and so is unlikely to hit showrooms until spring 2005.
But the flagship promises to be well worth the wait. With more than 500 HP and 700Nm of torque on offer from an all-new 5.0-litre V10, it will be able to sprint from 0-100 km/h in around five seconds. However, European cars will be electronically restricted to 250 km/h. Even in cabrio guise, the 6 will be much less heavy than the 5-Series on which it's based, thanks to lightweight aluminium front panels and suspension sub-frames. Expect a price premium of around £3,000 over the coupé.
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