By Helmut Dostal
The Mexican coast around Los Cabos is an ideal setting for the media launch of a sexy new luxury car, especially when that car is a BMW cabriolet. So it was an eager group of automotive journalists that gathered at the terrace of Las Ventanas al Paraíso.
The terrace offers a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean surf, but no one was looking at the waves. The stars of the picture-perfect setting were two 2012 6 Series BMWs: one a cabriolet and the other the brand-new coupé.
The evolutionary design changes for the 2012 models are a decided improvement over the last generation of 6 Series models. The exterior reflects the refined nature of this 2 + 2 grand tourer, with a wide and low stance, clean lines and beautifully defined, all-BMW front end. This is a car with the substance and power of a 7 Series model (400 hp from a 4.4 L twin-turbo V8), packaged in an elegant, highly refined GT.
The cabriolet is fitted with a multilayer fabric top that disappears within just 19 seconds with the touch of a button. BMW’s rationale for staying with the lighter canvas roof is to maintain the perfect 50/50 weight distribution and allow for more substantial trunk space than is seen with typical hard-top convertibles. Besides, the car simply looks like a real cabriolet, even when the top is up.
The morning after my formal introduction to the new cars, it was time for some hands-on experience out on the adventurous Mexican roads from Los Cabos, north on Highway 1 to La Paz. The Mexican idea of a highway is a two-lane stretch of asphalt that is home to pedestrians, trucks, carts, chickens, goats, the odd cow and yes, even some cars. The 225 km journey to the CostaBaja Golf Club just outside of La Paz had it all: moments of dodging a herd of goats determined to lock horns with the BMW’s shiny grill, while avoiding some locals who could not quite believe the swarm of luxury convertibles chasing down the highway.
What about testing the performance at higher speeds? Well, there were stretches of empty highway that made me put my foot to the proverbial metal, listen to the blown V8 upshift with an audible “pop” and watch the numbers on the head-up display in the windshield push the local speed limit. What’s special here is the ever-present feeling of safety and control.
Did I mention the interior? BMW has excelled again at its tradition of clean, impeccably executed ergonomics, high-quality materials and functionality, including a “flat screen” 10.2-inch central display unit. Ventilated front seats add comfort to open-air driving in hot climates. The basket of available driver-assistance systems includes lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear- and top-view cameras, BMW’s Night Vision with pedestrian detection and active cruise control, which adjusts the speed of the car to a pre-set distance from the vehicle ahead.
After a leisurely lunch at the CostaBaja Golf Club, it was time to head back to Los Cabos. Again, the road traffic offered many opportunities to test the cabriolet’s stability and silky smooth transmission, which takes the car in one dynamic rush to 100 km/hr in 4.9 seconds.
What could be left on the wish list? As you are reading this, an all-wheel-drive version will be on its way to Canadian showrooms. In addition, an M-version with well over 550 hp is likely to be in the offing to get die-hard BMW fans totally excited. bmw.ca