BMW 650i offers all-season drop-top
By REX ROY For Sun-Times Media October 12, 2012 4:48PM
2013 BMW 650i xDRIVE
ENGINE: 400-horsepower 4.4-liter twin turbocharged V-8
TRANSMISSION: eight-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: all-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: not available
BASE PRICE: $90,000
AS TESTED: not available
The old saw “The rich are different from you and me” is fresh again in this campaign season.
F. Scott Fitgerald’s reference to the characteristics of the moneyed class rings true to this writer — especially when it comes to electing what you could park in your garage.
After spending a week driving the 2013 BMW 650i xDrive Convertible, it strikes me as the perfect car for a posturing old rich guy and his gold-digging trophy wife. While initially this might seem a condemnation, the 650i xDrive really has plenty going for it.
Like so many items purporting style, the 650i isn’t immediately beautiful — although the style grows on you the longer you look. The bodywork will get attention with the soft top up; its massive flying buttresses at the roof’s rear dominate the profile.
Like the exterior, sitting in the 650i makes the jaundiced think that Bavarian marketing people developed a luxury checklist and ticked each box. Leather. Check. Wood. Check. Big LED display. Check, actually a double check because it can be read in direct sunlight, no small trick.
There are some wonderful details inside. The gauges, for instance, read white over black in the day, but switch to orange over black at night. The needle pointers also glow brightly, making them easy to read at a glance. Given that the 650i has a twin-turbocharged V-8 under the hood, we wished for a turbo boost gauge.
Most importantly, the wide rear seat is practical in that it accommodates real people — just don’t lower the top with passengers in back. The top mechanism will clonk them in the head.
Dynamically, there is truth behind BMW’s “ultimate driving machine” tagline. Igniting the BMW’s 400-horsepower 4.4-liter V-8 results in a powerful exhaust note and a subtly thrilling V-8 rumble. With 450 pound-feet of torque and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the 650i never wants for power.
Acceleration is thrilling and its locomotive-like thrust never diminishes under full throttle. On a late-night drive common sense prevailed as the speedometer swept past 130 mph on an empty stretch of Midwest interstate, which provided the opportunity to test the massive disc brakes.
Some people may think that eight forward gears is a bit much. They’d be wrong. The 650i’s gearbox shifts seamlessly in automatic mode, so unless you concentrate on the shifts, how many gears are whirring in the transmission remains a mystery. Paddles behind the steering wheel let drivers get involved in the gear game, and in manual mode, shifts are executed with lightning speed and complete precision.
Handling is secure and predictable, but one feels the sporty capabilities on pavement that’s less than ideal. Ride quality is appropriate for a GT, comfortable but sometimes a little busy. In other words, you know you’re driving a sporty machine.
Covering dynamics brings up the xDrive portion of the 650i. Our convertible featured all-wheel drive. Should owners want to endure a Chicago winter with only a soft top above their heads, the proven xDrive system will help them slog through slush and several inches of snow almost as well as a Hummer.
For my money, I’d recommend checking out the 335i Convertible at about $53,000 and the more exciting M3 Convertible at around $70,000. Either way, one could save tens of thousands from the $90,000 cost of the 650i xDrive. But if you got it, spend it, right?
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