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Spy shot BMW 6 Series convertible

Even in the exotic $200,000-plus class the porky German coupe and convertible are far from stars, with just 62 delivered down under by the end of November - a 42 per cent slump from the same time in 2008.

But the lacklustre results in Australia have not slowed development of the upcoming replacement for the current 6 Series in Europe.  The droptop Six has just been caught by Carparazzi in the Arctic at the start of the latest winter testing season.

Surprisingly, the Cabrio is out first and it comes with a folding canvas roof and not one of the popular coupe-convertible hardtops.  BMW, Benz and Audi have now all gone canvas on recent droptops, mostly because it frees luggage space and also because it makes it easier to put people into back seats.

Carparazzi says the Cabrio test car has a fake rear window sitting inside the fins used at the trailing edge of the folding roof, something carried over from the previous model.  The shape, too, is very similar to the outgoing 6 Series despite changes to almost every panel.

The Six is currently only sold as a V8-powered 650 in Australia but the global line-up will run to a 630, 650 and 635d when the new model arrives.