2010 BMW 6-Series
If you are unsure just what exactly the BMW 6-Series is, chances are you’re not alone. A giant, somewhat aggressive looking car with a whole lot of literal presence, in pictures it can appear to be more of a sports car than a pampering tourer, but up close you begin to realize that dizzying amounts of comfort are what it’s all about. Because of this, the 650i represents one of the few cars on the market that’s arguably better as a convertible than it is as a coupe – the previously compromised backseat has a usable amount of headroom with the top down and any suspicions of it being a driver’s coupe are thrown out the window. Of course, there is the noticeable issue of a $7,100 premium to be paid for the convertible version, but if the 650i falls within your price range to begin with, chances are the nine percent increase in cost won’t be too much of an issue. Pair this with a silky-smooth 4.8-liter V-8 and lavish-yet-simple BMW luxury and the 6-Series convertible adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable vehicle. Plus, unlike most convertibles, it manages to look decent with the top up, too.
What's to Like
BMW provides free scheduled maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles, so you don’t have to worry about a surprise bill for brake pads, oil changes or scheduled inspections. The new iDrive is not only easier to use than its much-maligned predecessor but manages to be, in fact, likeable in many ways, most notably its graphical presentation.
What's Not to Like
It’s easy to accept the high base price given the market the 650i Convertible competes in, but some of the options seem like they should come standard, such as heated seats (considering it’s a convertible) and smart phone and iPod/USB integration. The convertible weighs a hefty 450 lbs more than its coupe counterpart, thanks to the convertible roof and motors, as well as various chassis bracing.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
At 190 inches long, the 650i lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from BMW’s small, agile Z4. On the road, it manages to shrink around you to some extent, but you never forget that you’re behind the wheel of something that weighs over two tons. Despite the car’s heft, the 4.8-liter engine has little issue providing acceleration at any revs, thanks to its low peak torque, all 360 lb-ft of which come on at a rather low 3,400 rpm. The steering rack is accurate and weighty, though perhaps not as much so as smaller BMWs, and gear changes are as smooth as you would expect them to be in a German GT. Drop the top on a sunny day, bask in the V-8’s bellow and you’ll understand what the 650i is all about.
Engine and Drivetrain
The 650i gets its power from a smooth-revving 4.8-liter V-8 that produces 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. Power can be driven either through the standard six-speed sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters or an optional six-speed manual transmission.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
One option that makes a lot of sense on a large tourer like the 650i – that is, if you intend to spend lots of time on the freeway – is active cruise control, a system that uses radar to keep the vehicle a certain distance behind traffic. BMW also offers a night vision system that is capable of tracking objects several hundred feet away.
Key Technology Evaluation
BMW’s recently reworked iDrive system comes standard, and if you’ve heard horror stories from the past, you can relax. The new system is a substantial achievement in usability, technological integration and, er, common sense compatibility. However, we find it a bit ridiculous that iPod and USB adaptors don’t come standard in a car this price.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
With such a high curb weight and V-8 power, the 650i is a bit of a gas-guzzler. Manual transmission vehicles suffer the most at 14 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, but automatics (which is the way most cars are ordered) fare slightly better, returning 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The high point of the 650i experience, the interior, is awash in modest luxury and technology, from optional pearl leather to the large, bright iDrive control screen. An attractive and sporty two-tone color scheme graces the doors and, in classic BMW fashion, all of the ergonomics feel tailored to the driver.
Unlike some convertibles, the 650i doesn’t look ungainly from the outside, and the proportions haven’t been stretched to accommodate the soft-top roof and its related mechanisms. As such, the car looks good with the top up or down, and even riding on 19-inch wheels, it seems to hide its proportions better than the bulbous coupe.
Market Segment and Pricing
Cars like this don’t come cheap. The BMW 650i Convertible has a base MSRP of $85,550, and going overboard with the options can see that number topple close to $100K. Competition is thin, with such vehicles as the $88,150 Jaguar XK Convertible
, $88,800 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet
and the two-seater $98,500 Mercedes-Benz SL550
What We Think
BMW’s 650i isn’t the kind of car you buy because it’s functional; it’s the kind of car you buy because you enjoy spending time in it. And on the right day, with the top down and the sun shining, it’s a fantastic place to be.