The best cosmetic surgeons in the world are at their happiest when nobody realises that they’ve been at work on a patient, helping them look subtly, indisputably better, younger, fitter and more confident. And so it is with BMW’s attempt at rhinoplasty on the 6 Series line-up. You’ll struggle to point out what’s different, yet you’ll have to admit that it looks good.
For the record, this patient’s kidneys have ‘had work done’, as has its chin and buttocks. Its wardrobe has been refreshed too with new colours, high-tech LED lights as standard and new alloy wheel options. Oh, and the six-cylinder versions come with more suggestively proportioned exhaust pipes.
Butwe’re not driving one of those; we’re in the 650i, the range-topper, if you exclude the uncomfortably quick M6. Not that the 650i is exactly a dawdler. It features a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 after all, putting 443bhp and 650Nm of torque to the rear wheels. It’s just that its personality doesn’t encourage you to emulate the impressive official 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds. At least not by default. Sure, the sports exhaust (now standard across the line-up) rumbles purposefully and the car feels effortlessly fast, but to unlock its inner muscle car you need to slot the gear lever over to Sport and choose the same from the Drive Performance Control switch.
Then things become a little more interesting. The throttle response ramps up a gear, the steering assistance reduces and the eight-speed automatic transmission is, as we’ve experienced in many BMWs, simply faultless. Also, if you’re one of the 25 per cent or so that bothers to pay extra for adaptive damping, it tautens up the chassis to allow it to make full use of all that performance. And, for a while, you have a lot of fun. Though take it by the scruff of its neck for too long on a tight and twisty road and it’ll soon become clear that this is quite a heavy car. Grip is high, but quick direction changes betray the weight those tyres are dealing with and you soon realise that this car is at its best when driven at seven tenths.
That, by any measure, is still rapid and the 650i makes for a satisfying cross-country ground coverer for when you’re not quite in the mood for putting every ounce of energy into the experience. Instead, revel in the high quality (and upgraded) interior, lavish standard specification and admiring glances. Better still, go for the updated 6 Series Gran Coupé, BMW’s cosmetic surgeons’ finest hour.
Power to weight: 237bhp/ton
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Engine: eight-cylinder 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol
Power: 443bhp at 5,300- to 6,000rpm
Torque: 650Nm at 2,000- to 4,500rpm
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed Steptronic sport automatic
Wheels: 19-inch alloy standard in UK
Tyres: 8.5J x 19 front, 9J x 19 rear and tyres 245/40 R19 front, 275/35 R19 rear
Price: £69,785 on-the-road
On sale date: January 2015