BMW has revealed first details of its new 6-series coupe and convertible line, the first model to carry the badging since the original was replaced by the 8-series in 1989.

Powered by a 4.4-litre V8, the revived 6 series is 4,820mm (189.8") long, 1,855mm (73.0") wide, and 1,373mm (54.1") high, with a power dome on the bonnet, low roof line, and contoured front and side panels.

Inside, BMW's controversial iDrive controller, which accesses most of the vehicle's secondary and comfort functions, is again centrally mounted. Options include a panorama roof which is larger than a normal electric sunroof.

The 4.4-litre Valvetronic V8 is shared with the 745i sedan and, in the 645Ci coupe provides 0-62 mph (100km/h) acceleration in a swift 5.6 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph. The engine produces maximum power of 333 bhp and develops 332 lb-ft (450Nm) of torque at 3,600 rpm.

There is a choice of three different six-speed gearboxes, which transmit power to the rear wheels in traditional BMW fashion. As well as a manual six-speed transmission, the 645Ci comes with an optional six-speed automatic with Steptronic or a sequential manual gearbox (SMG) with steering wheel paddles and gearshift lever.

Driving Dynamics Control (DDC) is similar to the sport function on BMW M3 and M5 models. Operated by a 'Sport' button on the centre console, DDC sharpens up throttle reaction for more responsive acceleration, as well as producing a more direct feel from the speed-related, power-assisted steering. When combined with SMG or the Steptronic automatic, DDC also shifts gears at higher revs, changing ratios in 150 milliseconds.

Weighing 1,600 kg or 3,528 lbs, the new 6 series uses a combination of aluminium, steel and synthetic materials, which are said to make a significant contribution to driving performance, with the added benefit of improved fuel economy.

The bonnet, doors and entire front body structure are made of aluminium. Front wings are fashioned from thermoplastic while the boot lid is made of sheet moulding compound (SMC).

Dynamic Drive and Active Steering can be specified as 6 series options. Claimed to virtually eliminate body roll in bends, Dynamic Drive features step motors which build up counter forces on the car's anti-roll bars, improving ride comfort while cornering. Active Steering uses a step motor to vary steering ratio according to speed. At low speeds agility is enhanced, with less steering wheel input required for a sharper turning angle. This is said to make the vehicle easier to manoeuvre in situations where drivers most need assistance, such as town driving or parking in tight spaces. As speed increases the steering becomes progressively more indirect and firm, enhancing stability and comfort, and ensuring smooth and precise handling.

Run-flat tyres are standard, allowing the car to be driven for up to 90 miles at 50 mph.

Typically of a BMW, the 6 has a vast options list including active cruise control and adaptive headlights that turn towards the direction the vehicle is steering rather than where it is pointing.

The 6 will also be the first BMW to have a Head-up Display (HUD) availabe from March 2004. This projects a variety of information directly onto the windscreen, including navigation directions, speed and the active cruise control display.

The transparent display is said to reduce fatigue over long journeys, as drivers need take their eyes off the road less often. It is also claimed to enhance safety, warning of any hazard or failure, like an open door or lamp failure.

BMW also claims the new 6 has the largest luggage compartment in its class, with enough space for two golf bags and a suitcase.

Automatic air conditioning and an audio system said to match top-of-the-range home entertainment system quality, are standard.

The 6 will make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September and goes on sale in Europe soon after. BMW is wasting no time getting right hand drive cars into production as UK coupe sales begin in December with the convertible following in 2004.

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