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      09-14-2011, 09:29 AM   #1
Superspeed
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F12 640i – Experiences and driving impressions after first 4 months

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I know a lot of you guys are waiting for your coupé. To shorten the time here are my personal experiences in the convertible after several longer trips and everyday driving during 6000 km.

Delivery
I ordered the car in October 2010 without having any official pictures or price specifications, to be sure getting the car ready for the convertible season.
Delivery in May went ok and I got the first F12 on the street in Oslo (or probably in Norway).

Size
The car is about the same size as the F10 5-series (same length, 3 cm wider but 10 cm lower). So it is not overly large, but it is a guess where you have the corners before you get used to manoeuvring in tight spots. A great help when backing is the camera and sensors.

Engine and performance
This is a 640i. It’s a 3-litre 320 hp single turbo twin scroll engine (or “Twin Power” as BMW calls it). It has a nice torque according to the spec (450 NM from 1300 rpm), but in the lower range I miss some force. In the higher range however it is plenty of power, and the engine revs very smooth and willingly until it shifts at 7000 rpm. On the higher revs you get the engine sound you want to hear, it turns from very cultivated to quite race like. The sound level could be higher though, but hey, this suits a BMW. No vibrations and the engine cries for more. Acceleration is as you would expect and no reason to doubt the manufactures figure of 5,7 from 0-100 kmh. Overtaking other cars doesn’t stress you at all.

Gearshift
This is an 8-speed box. It shifts without noticing it during normal driving. In sport mode it is a little less smooth, without being uncultivated. Driving in Normal or Comfort mode reveals my other point of criticism. It downshifts too slowly, like it needs a break to think about it. To get a qualified second opinion I asked a friend with a MB CL 500 to test it, and didn’t find the shifting slower than his own car. So I guess it’s normal. I have been driving stick shift earlier, may be it is just what you are used to. Driving in Sport and Sport+ solves most of the problem anyway. Or you can put the gear lever in left position (Sport/Manual).

Handling
This is not a true sports car, but it is a great GT car. Driving in Sport mode makes the car shrink and tighten close to your body and to the ground. It is impressive how the large car can be thrown around tight turns and gives you a nice feedback on what the wheels are doing. I strongly recommend to go for all the options on chassis and steering. Normally I am driving in “Normal”, which is a good compromise of sport and comfort. “Comfort” is nice when driving on straight roads but too soft through sharp turns and hasty manoeuvres. I am 80% in Normal and 20% in Sport. Sport+ cuts off the electronic aids, and will be nice testing during winter.

Brakes
These are probably the best brakes of any car I had. I had one episode lately when overtaking a row of cars. Due to poor planning from my side I suddenly had to get the car in between two others. The space was narrow. So the other guys got angry and I got sweat - while giving heavy brake pedal and in the same time throwing the 640 in between the others. But the car acted like on rails. I felt full control and it was completely undramatic. I am not very proud of the episode though.

Soft top
The roof is completely waterproof also when washing the car with high pressure. The fabric seems to be of high quality and it folds and unfolds very smooth and precise up and down. The roof mechanism is impressive to watch

Interior and comfort
The interior certainly looks very nice. There are a lot of storage rooms and a place for two bottles or two cups, something the old 6-series didn’t have. There is a lot of space in the front, and the seats are firm but comfortable. They also give the body good support sideways.The rear passengers lack leg room. Having people there means compromising with the front passenger. I would not recommend anybody to sit behind the driver if he is of normal size. Kids would probably love the rear seats however, since they are very comfortable.
The climate control works very well and you don’t miss anything here.
The roof gives effective noise protection from traffic around you or from wind and tires. Not more noise than in a saloon car.

I-drive, instrumentation, buttons and gadgets
The i-drive is easy and intuitive. There is also direct access to important functions without using the i-drive. You will be impressed about how much you can control or set up with the i-drive system, or how much information you can get out of it. The 10,2 inch screen is big enough to permanently stay in split screen mode. I prefer having the navigation map on the left side and entertainment details on the right side of the screen.
There is a row of buttons on the dashboard that can be programmed to do what you want them to. Like presetting of radio channels or other entertainment sources, navigation functions, phone settings or whatever. Instrumentation and buttons in general is of good BMW standard, which means that everything is very you expect it to be and where it should be.

Trunk
Trunk capacity is surprisingly good. Especially when the roof is closed. This gives you additional height in the trunk. It is also possible to load your skies through an opening from the trunk and between the two rear seats.

Build quality
This is what you expect. Everything looks massive and solid. Materials are of high quality. No rattling and shaking due to loss of a fixed roof.

Fuel consumption
From 8,5 litres/100km on country roads to 13 litres in heavy city traffic. My average after 6000 km is just below 10 litres. I think this is very good for car of this size.

Everyday motoring
This car is perfect for the long journeys and not so perfect for shopping and parking in narrow spaces.

Verdict
9/10. I love this car.

The first picture is taken the day of delivery.
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Last edited by Superspeed; 11-17-2011 at 01:12 PM.
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      09-14-2011, 12:45 PM   #2
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congrats! thx for the thorough review. Can't wait till the newer tuned N55 trickles over to the other models in the states.

Do you notice any issues with throttle tip-in or lag on the 8AT?
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      09-14-2011, 03:53 PM   #3
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SuperSpeed:

Thanks for your thoughtful review. Easy to see why you like your car so much. My butt has gotten to the point where I don't seek a true sports car, and GT is much more to my liking. So I am really eager to receive mine. It has been here in the States for more than two weeks. Maybe now that the launch is done in Frankfurt, we can have our cars!

Too bad it is so quiet. I really enjoy hearing the German V8s when they raise their voices. I expect I will be even less able to hear the engine music in my new coupe.

I have been surprised to see the car delivered with the new Dunlop 2nd Gen run flats. You didn't mention them, but others have stated they've been pleased. Did your car come with them? Any thoughts about tires?
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      09-15-2011, 07:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superspeed View Post
Engine and performance
This is a 640i. It’s a 3-litre 320 hp single turbo twin scroll engine (or “Twin Power” as BMW calls it). It has a nice torque according to the spec (450 NM from 1300 rpm), but in the lower range I miss some force. In the higher range however it is plenty of power, and the engine revs very smooth and willingly until it shifts at 7000 rpm. On the higher revs you get the engine sound you want to hear, it turns from very cultivated to quite race like. The sound level could be higher though, but hey, this suits a BMW. No vibrations and the engine cries for more. Acceleration is as you would expect and no reason to doubt the manufactures figure of 5,7 from 0-100 kmh. Overtaking other cars is doesn’t stress you at all.

Handling
This is not a true sports car, but it is a great GT car. Driving in Sport mode makes the car shrink and tighten close to your body and to the ground. It is impressive how the large car can be thrown around tight turns and gives you a nice feedback on what the wheels are doing. I strongly recommend to go for all the options on chassis and steering. Normally I am driving in “Normal”, which is a good compromise of sport and comfort. “Comfort” is nice when driving on straight roads but too soft through sharp turns and hasty manoeuvres. I am 80% in Normal and 20% in Sport. Sport+ cuts off the electronic aids, and will be nice testing during winter.
I've had three separate extended test drives of the 640i, totalling about 800 miles and completely agree with all your comments, especially with regard to the engine not being at its best until you reach higher RPM figures. This is why I've decided to go for the 640d, which has the same engine as my F10 535d. Granted, it lacks that glorious high revving sound, but performance figures are almost identical and 7.2 lt/100km (39mpg) averaged over 11k miles is hard to argue with from an economical standpoint.
With regard to the handling, as per the F10, I think it's a shame that BMW have chosen to adopt electric steering as, what would appear to be, standard policy on all but M cars because I and many others feel that the handling has suffered as a result. However, the F12 is significantly better than the F10 which, incidentally has been fitted with the F12's rack since March 2011.
As you say, it's not a sports car, but a true grand tourer and I think that's exactly what BMW had in mind at the design outset - can't wait to get mine next spring.
As to your options - am I correct in assuming that you have adaptive drive with VDC? Additionally, do you have integral active steering? I really like the AD/VDC system, but haven't driven a car with active steering.
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      09-15-2011, 01:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATX78703 View Post
congrats! thx for the thorough review. Can't wait till the newer tuned N55 trickles over to the other models in the states.

Do you notice any issues with throttle tip-in or lag on the 8AT?
ATX:

The 8AT is the smoothest and silkiest there is.
However what I experience is that when pushing the pedal for acceleration it takes time for the car to respond. You would expect an instant downshift and then instant acceleration. More or less in the same moment.
Since the transmission is so soft and quiet I can't really figure out wether it is the downshift process that takes time, or if the lag is due to building up pressure in the turbo. When dring in Sport mode you are normally in a lower gear and this reduces the lag. But it can be felt even then.

Since I used to be a hard core manual driver may be my expectations to this advanced AT were just to high
And since everything else is so perfect it's easy to pick on this.

I wonder what experiences other 640-owners might have?
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      09-15-2011, 01:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superspeed View Post
ATX:

The 8AT is the smoothest and silkiest there is.
However what I experience is that when pushing the pedal for acceleration it takes time for the car to respond. You would expect an instant downshift and then instant acceleration. More or less in the same moment.
Since the transmission is so soft and quiet I can't really figure out wether it is the downshift process that takes time, or if the lag is due to building up pressure in the turbo. When dring in Sport mode you are normally in a lower gear and this reduces the lag. But it can be felt even then.

Since I used to be a hard core manual driver may be my expectations to this advanced AT were just to high
And since everything else is so perfect it's easy to pick on this.

I wonder what experiences other 640-owners might have?
On my 640i test drives I configured the car the same way I have my F10 535d. I have sport set to chassis only to firm up the suspension and quicken the steering and then when I want faster shift times and throttle response I select sport+, the difference is amazing.
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      09-15-2011, 01:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyCoupe View Post
SuperSpeed:

Too bad it is so quiet. I really enjoy hearing the German V8s when they raise their voices. I expect I will be even less able to hear the engine music in my new coupe.

I have been surprised to see the car delivered with the new Dunlop 2nd Gen run flats. You didn't mention them, but others have stated they've been pleased. Did your car come with them? Any thoughts about tires?
GC:

Traditionally the Inline6'es from BMW are even smoother and quieter than the V8's. I think the character of your engine probably suits the car better.

I once had a Porsche 928 S which was very quiet inside. So when passing rocksides or in tunnels I used to open a window to have the engine sound reflected back.
This could be a solution also for you if the Germans have done too much engineering

Yes my car is fitted with the Dunlops. Only one thing to say: They are perfect. Stable and sticking to the surface under any conditions, no matter how poor the road is or how sharp the turns are.
Because of the low profile (35 and 30) you can feel it when driving over small stones or poorly repaired asphalt. No tyre can absorb that with such a profile. I don't see it as a problem either.

Any news about delivery?
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      09-15-2011, 05:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon D View Post
On my 640i test drives I configured the car the same way I have my F10 535d. I have sport set to chassis only to firm up the suspension and quicken the steering and then when I want faster shift times and throttle response I select sport+, the difference is amazing.
Jon,

The power diesel with its high torque suits everyday driving better than the petrol engines. I can clearly understand your choice.

None of my previous cars had electric steering, so the F12 represents a new era. And I don't feel any big difference in handling and response. I ordered the active steering which also involves the rear wheels. This makes the car very stable through curves, but also gives a smaller turning circle than most compact cars (better than my Mini). It does not wizard the car into the perfect city commuter, but it helps a lot.

When it comes to chassis options I ordered the full package which I do not regret. This is a must unless your driving arena is limited to city shopping and kindergarden. It gets the best out of the car and really show the potential in a modern fine tuned chassis.
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      09-15-2011, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superspeed View Post
ATX:

Since the transmission is so soft and quiet I can't really figure out wether it is the downshift process that takes time, or if the lag is due to building up pressure in the turbo. When dring in Sport mode you are normally in a lower gear and this reduces the lag. But it can be felt even then.


The 8AT is excellent. Almost no delay or lag between shifts.
People compared it to the DCT and have no dissapointments.

There is however a little turbo lag when you punch down that gas pedal.
All the reviews say that there is almost no turbo lag, but after you get used to the car, you definitely can feel that slight delay that NA engines don't have.

It's not to do with the transmission since this lag can be felt without shifting down and just pressing the gas pedal hard on manual mode. It's not unacceptable but it is definitely there, and when turbo kicks in you feel it kick in. I understand now why some people want that last NA engines in their cars.

One another thing that's different from the reviews; the convertible top is really nice but its sound blockage from the surroundings can never be compared to the non-converts. When it's really quiet at night and a car goes by, sometimes I look at the rear mirror to see if my back window is slightly open. It's tolerable but it does feel less concealing than all the reviews I have read.

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      09-15-2011, 06:53 PM   #10
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Thanks for the great write-up.

For you guys stateside waiting on V-8 cars, they're louder and there is NO hesitation when you stomp on the gas pedal. I was driving in town today in sport mode and reminded myself this car can get going in a hurry. Thankfully, the brakes work well too.
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      09-16-2011, 04:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superspeed View Post
Jon,

The power diesel with its high torque suits everyday driving better than the petrol engines. I can clearly understand your choice.

None of my previous cars had electric steering, so the F12 represents a new era. And I don't feel any big difference in handling and response. I ordered the active steering which also involves the rear wheels. This makes the car very stable through curves, but also gives a smaller turning circle than most compact cars (better than my Mini). It does not wizard the car into the perfect city commuter, but it helps a lot.

When it comes to chassis options I ordered the full package which I do not regret. This is a must unless your driving arena is limited to city shopping and kindergarden. It gets the best out of the car and really show the potential in a modern fine tuned chassis.
Thanks Superspeed,
The F12 I drove had AD/VDC as does my current F10; I completely agree that it's one of the car's best features and will definitely be ordering it for my F12.
My test car didn't have the active steering and, as some reviewers have commented, I found the on-centre feedback to be lacking and feeling somewhat detached - very much like my F10.
It's not bad enough to put me off the car and I'm very encouraged to read your favourable comments on the active steering. My dealer said he'd source a test car with this option and I'm really hopeful that it'll transform the car for me. I'll let you know what I think when I've driven it.
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      09-18-2011, 11:49 AM   #12
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SuperSpeed,

Thanks for the great review. The waiting is terrible and I am looking forward to getting my mine. I have already planned about 3 trips where instead of flying to Dallas, I will use the time to break in the car and learn the toys. I have a friend in an M3 who did this drive MUCH faster than I can imagine.
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      09-18-2011, 01:50 PM   #13
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Great car! Congratz!
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      09-18-2011, 03:58 PM   #14
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Congrats on the car and the front page feature.

I bet it's an awesome car to drive.

I have yet to see one in real life.
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      09-18-2011, 04:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Houston Bimmer View Post
SuperSpeed,
Thanks for the great review. The waiting is terrible and I am looking forward to getting my mine. I have already planned about 3 trips where instead of flying to Dallas, I will use the time to break in the car and learn the toys. I have a friend in an M3 who did this drive MUCH faster than I can imagine.
Houston,
They have been incredibly slow to bring out the coupe. At least your patience will be rewarded.
Driving is so much better than flying. You have access to the owners manual through the i-drive, so it is easy to check out all the gadgets and functions while driving (careful...). Even after lots of testing I am surprised still finding new cool functions.
Hopefully you will have your car in a few days. Good luck.

Remmib:
I've seen your car in other threads. It's a beauty. Keep up the good work.
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      09-19-2011, 12:47 AM   #16
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Nice choice, and thanks for posting the real driver feedback, it is much appreciated sir!
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      09-19-2011, 09:55 AM   #17
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I haven't seen any F12/13 in Norway yet. Good to know there is some though

Sat in one of these while in München, was a beautiful car!
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      09-19-2011, 12:15 PM   #18
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I haven't seen any F12/13 in Norway yet. Good to know there is some though
Happy to contribute!
I have a past in Narvik btw.....
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      09-19-2011, 02:49 PM   #19
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Thank you very much for the great write up.
Lovely wheels btw, style 356?
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      09-20-2011, 12:02 PM   #20
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Great writeup best of luck with the car. Great choice on the wheels.
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      09-20-2011, 12:40 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by EdwinF10 View Post
Lovely wheels btw, style 356?
Wheels are style 356:
Front: 8,5 x 20 - 245/35-20
Rear: 9 x 20 - 275/30-20

Tyres: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT Runflat
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      10-03-2011, 03:30 AM   #22
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Is the back seat usable? I mean is there a room for the heads of the passengers? Yesterday I`ve tried the Coupe and the back seat is NOT usable.
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