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      01-22-2011, 09:55 PM   #1
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C&D First Drive Review: BMW 650i Convertible

Originally Posted by CarandDriver
2012 BMW 650i Convertible - First Drive Review
Think of the new 6-series as a beautiful 5-series—with all of its strengths and one major shortcoming.

If you are shopping for a 6-series convertible, please accept our congratulations. According to BMW market research, this is your third or fourth car—not ever, mind you, but currently.

To snag such customers, the Bavarians start with style. While the previous-generation 6 ushered in an almost iconoclastic era of BMW design, the new 6, styled by Nader Faghihzadeh, returns somewhat to the elegance of the first-generation 6 introduced in 1976. From every angle, the new car looks low and wide and oozes a subtle but unmistakable aggressiveness. The front end features a new fog light style—executed with LEDs—and a hint of the shark nose that had all but disappeared from BMWs. Thankfully, the 650i uses an evolution of the previous car’s fabric roof instead of a heavy folding hardtop.

Inside, the new 6 is far better executed than the old. It is more driver-oriented, befitting a car with sporting aspirations—particularly a BMW. It is easy to find a comfortable seating position, at least up front. The rear seat remains as tight as before, but it is possible to take along two friends for short distances without jeopardizing the friendship.

Twin Turbos Underhood

While Europe gets a 640i with an inline-six and will soon offer a turbo-diesel as well, the only model for the U.S. market is the 650i, powered by BMW’s 400-hp, twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8. With 450 lb-ft of torque, it simply leaves the last-gen 650i—and its naturally aspirated 4.8-liter eight—in the dust. The 2012 car always seems to have extra power in reserve, and it pulls relentlessly up to its governor, which is set at a low 130 mph for regular models and 150 mph on those with the optional Sport package.

Some credit for this car's responsiveness goes to the transmission, the ZF 8HP70 eight-speed automatic. It shifts quickly and efficiently, and its extremely tall top gear helps keep fuel consumption at acceptable levels. But if you hustle it, the 650i still slurps gas. Figure on real-world fuel economy somewhere around 12–14 mpg if you’re going to play hard.

More rewarding than talk of efficiency is the great soundtrack of the V-8. We’ve experienced this engine elsewhere, but here, BMW tinkered with the ignition timing to achieve a delicate burble in the exhaust whenever the automatic shifts. And with so many gears to choose from, it shifts a lot.

Wait. Who Wanted What?

As nicely as the eight-speed box works, we’re glad a six-speed manual is still available—in the U.S., anyway. European customers, it seems, are embracing the idea of modern automatics being sportier than manuals. It remains to be seen whether the manual transmission sells in relevant numbers here. "The Americans clamor for it, but then they don't buy it," a BMW engineer complains.

While BMW talks at length about weight-reducing technologies, this car is porkier than the one it replaces. According to BMW, it now tips the scales at a whopping 4500 pounds, up from the predecessor's 4300. The new 6 loses the old car's complex aluminum front structure, but makes liberal use of plastic and aluminum panels.

The chassis, with a multilink suspension front and rear, does an impressive job of masking the extra pounds. Equipped with the optional active roll stabilization, it provides exceptional roadholding, making it difficult to unsettle the car even on rough pavement. The stability system doesn't allow for much oversteer even in Sport+ mode, which triggers a gratuitous but legally required warning in the instrument panel when selected. You can turn off stability control almost all the way, but it will still kick in if you hit the brakes in a slide, remaining switched off after recovery. As in other BMWs, the other chassis settings are Sport, Normal, and Comfort.

Help Wanted at the Helm

Unfortunately, the electric steering is a reason to stay away from the sportier modes. As on the new 5-series, the steering is slightly numb on center and feels artificially heavy, but the synthetic feel is less noticeable in Comfort and Normal. You can tinker with the system settings individually, but no combination will charm you.

The steering feel and the V-8's drinking habits are the only drawbacks of an otherwise wonderful car that looks like a BMW should. The regular 6-series doesn’t have many competitors, although the even burlier M6 will return with a thoroughly reworked version of the same engine that could reach close to 600 hp. The somewhat-lighter 650i coupe will trail the convertible by six months. Whichever 6-series you choose for that fourth car, just be sure to spec the manual transmission.
Originally Posted by Jaypod View Post
You sound like my buddies who have AMG's - Slam the gas, slam the brakes...

Last edited by -=Hot|Ice=-; 01-22-2011 at 10:42 PM.
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      01-23-2011, 12:00 PM   #2
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So the led strips are fog lights and able to be turned off? Sounds like a good move by BMW.
Originally Posted by southlight View Post
You're low-balling
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      01-23-2011, 12:28 PM   #3

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Sigh...What a gorgeous ride.
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      01-23-2011, 12:28 PM   #4
... can I get a 1M

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"European customers, it seems, are embracing the idea of modern automatics being sportier than manuals."

^ This could be the beginning of the end of manuals.
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      01-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #5

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I find it very interesting that the manual transmission is going to be available in the U.S. but not in Europe. Of course, the BMW engineer quoted makes a snide but oh so true comment about how Americans demand the manual option and then don't buy them.
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      01-23-2011, 01:15 PM   #6
RWD only.

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This review is pretty underwhelming, just like the F10 5er's. 4500 pounds is like stage II automotive obesity. It's pathetic that comparable new-gen Audis are lighter with the inclusion of AWD. I'm hoping the coupe lands just a hair south under the two-ton mark. I can't imagine what the weight figures are gonna be for the M6.
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      01-23-2011, 01:29 PM   #7

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In US the majority of the people that buy this car are either old and retired or big juice boxes (because they can't fit into any other coupe)
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      01-23-2011, 03:08 PM   #8
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I hope not, I still prefer manual

Originally Posted by antzcrashing View Post
"European customers, it seems, are embracing the idea of modern automatics being sportier than manuals."

^ This could be the beginning of the end of manuals.
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      01-23-2011, 03:51 PM   #9
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4500 lbs!!! Major porker, hope the M6 is lighter. Beautiful car but with that weight handling can't be that great. Why can't a company as advanced technologically build a nice 4 seat full size convertible that doesn't weigh so much? A 1965 Pontiac Bonneville convertible with the legendary 421 engine weighed 3900 lbs, was a barge but very fast for its day, and even fit 6 people.
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      01-23-2011, 06:03 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by F25X3 View Post
Im new to this forum but doesnt someone from BM here? I would really like to know why the reason for the poor steering. They should be making cars that r better to drive, not worse. I xchanged my X3 for the new F25 X3 but the old one was better to drive! Why ?
Exactly my point. I am going to be in the market for my next car in a couple of years and I was just glancing at the weight of the 550i and the E550. The previous was ~4400 lbs while the latter was ~4050 lbs, and this is with the 5.5 V8. I can almost guarantee that this wieght will come down below the 4000 lb mark with theit new 4.6 TT V8. I would also wager that the new A6 V8 with quattro would be ~ 4000 lbs. Why are BMWs getting so fat?

So it seems that the Benz will be a more responsive car, with 400lbs less weight and significantly more torque. Might just have to sway that way!
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      01-24-2011, 11:09 PM   #11
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My likes and dislikes of this car.

I Like

1. The rear end design and the taillights.
2. The twin turbo engine with more power
3. The 8 speed tranny
4. Specially turned exhaust that is complimentary to a 6er coupe.
5. The interior design.
6. The led foglights that can be turned on or off.

I dislike

1. The overall front end design. Those huge headlights seem ugly and look like they belongs on Honda Odyssey minivan and not a sexy sleek 6er.

2. OMG....this car keeps getting heavier. How much more heavy can it get.

3. Electric steering....why.....what was wrong with the regular BMW steering wheels that are well known for their feel. Why are we messing up some thing that is already going good.

Overall, I am disappointed

This was the chance for BMW to fix everything that was wrong with the last 6er. Such as over weight, sub par interior packaging efficiency, so so driving dynamics among its group, and looks that were not the sexiest. I think in most areas it was a big miss instead of a hit. This sets up the mighty M6 for failure once again vs the likes of Porsche 911, or GT-R.

I guess I will be sticking to a 3er coupe for a while. If I wanted a 4500 Ib. plus car why would I give up two door. I would just get a 7 series. At least it will have plenty of room for a big porky car and it would make sense. Wow....6er seems like the lowered version of X6 with ugly lights in front. At least with X6 you get ride height for rain soaked flooded streets. To me this makes the last 6er look like a gem.
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      02-05-2011, 06:01 PM   #12

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That car is way too heavy for a manual

Manual cars should be light and agile, otherwise it isn't that fun.
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      02-06-2011, 01:12 AM   #13
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I own the last year (2010) 650 Vert. I am 44 yrs old, and have owned several BMW's. Honestly, I am glad I got the last year of the previous body style. I love the car and it handles superb. It might be heavier than most of the BMW lineup, but it is build very well and last for quite a long time.
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      02-18-2011, 04:46 PM   #14

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Originally Posted by bmwdinamo View Post
In US the majority of the people that buy this car are either old and retired or big juice boxes (because they can't fit into any other coupe)
Or just have more money than jerks that drive Acura and Infiniti models like you do.
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