The BMW 650i is one of the finest Grand Touring cars there is
It’s sheer desirability that the BMW 650i convertible is all about. It looks stunning, especially with the hood down, and by Indian standards this is a full-fledged exotic. The long silhouette, those mean-looking hooded brows, the super-wide ‘V’ on the bonnet and the gorgeous skinning results in the perfect interplay of curves and surfaces. Some, however, don’t appreciate the way the rear spoiler blends with the boot.
The soft-top doesn’t take too much away from the design and the 6-series looks great even with the roof up. You expect the long doors of this car to be really heavy, but they aren’t. That’s because they are made of aluminium while the fenders and boot lid are made of plastic to help keep the weight down. Still at 1,935kg, it’s no lightweight; far from it.
Built on a slightly shortened 5-series platform, with struts and a lower wishbone up front and a multi-link rear.
The iDrive rotart control that works the climate, stereo, navigation and phone systems take a bit of time to get used to. It has everything we love about BMW cabins. You will certainly feel exclusive here. The large XXL-sized front seats are exceptionally comfy and interior quality levels are top-class too. Everything is solidly built; the buttons function with a nice damped feel and apart from the wood inserts that for some reason look out of place, there are no complaints. Luggage space, despite the folded roof, is an impressive 300 litres.
We haven’t said a word about the soft-top, but that’s because roof up it’s not too far away from a coupé. At high speeds there’s a bit of buffeting and wind noise but it’s not excessive and you can have a conversation without having to raise your voice.
Drop the roof at the touch of a button, below 32kph however, and the character of the car changes completely. Country roads with trees fluttering past feel magical, the air rushes past at hurricane speeds without entering the cabin and long drives over country roads in cooler weather are nothing short of addictive. While legroom is tight at the rear, the high-mounted seats are actually quite comfortable once you are seated, allowing for four-up motoring.
Performance & Economy
The 6-series is powered by a large-capacity 4.8-litre V8. Spin this large bore motor to 6300rpm and you will get 367bhp flowing through to the rear wheels. Still, if it’s brutal acceleration you are looking for, you are likely to be slightly disappointed, at least initially. While there is a strong and steady shove in the back, it’s not explosive. The 650i only seems to get into its stride at around 60 or 70kph, after which acceleration gets progressively stronger and stronger. 100kph comes up in 7.3 seconds, 150kph in 14.1sec, the BMW still pulling hard at 200kph that comes up in 25.8sec. For a car with a power-to-weight ratio of 190-odd bhp per tonne, you expect it to be quicker but we suspect that running on our low-octane fuel, the motor isn’t making all its claimed horsepower. It’s also important to remember that this is not the same twin-turbo motor found under the hood of the 750Li, which is much more potent.
If you’re looking for a sports car experience, you are somewhat missing the point. The 650i actually does an amazing job of being a Grand Tourer. It attains seriously high velocities effortlessly, often even on less-than-full throttle, it has massive lungs and never runs out of breath and the sometimes lazy six-speed auto ’box syncs perfectly too. Initially disappointed by the lack of punch, you tend to ignore the build-up of power and speed until whoa, you suddenly look down at the speedo which indicates a ludicrous figure. And this happens quite often.
Someone spending approximately five times the value of a regular luxury car on the 650i may not be inordinately perturbed by fuel economy which expectedly is appalling. The 3.8kpl we got in the city and 6.9kpl on the highway served to remind us that large petrols can be pretty thirsty.
Ride & Handling
Part of the reason for the discreet manner in which the Bimmer achieves its astonishing pace is the ability of this chassis to mask speed like few others can. Near-perfect weight distribution, incredible grip and well contained roll and pitch combine to give impeccable road manners. The steering is direct, accurate and bristling with feel, the brakes are perfectly weighted, and you just find yourself going harder and harder naturally.
There is a layer of underlying stiffness and some thump and a bit of kick over sharp-edged holes, but our roads are otherwise dealt with pretty well. You are comfortable in the cabin for the most part and ride quality is actually quite good. Like with most convertibles, there is a fair amount of scuttle shake and you can feel tremors through the body every time you hit a bad patch.
The key to enjoying this car is to drive considerably less than a 100 percent. The casual manner in which it lunges from corner to corner, the effortless way it cruises, and its unflappable poise makes the 6-series feel like it’s never going to break into a sweat. The impeccable handling is also helped by the fact that this suspension hasn’t been raised to deal with Indian roads. The downside is a car with its belly closer to the ground and that means you need to be especially careful over big speedbreakers, of which there is no serious shortage.
The BMW 650i is one of the finest Grand Touring cars there is.
It has the effortless performance needed to swallow entire continents in one big gulp, the levels of comfort and luxury for the front seat passengers can only be rivalled by full-fledged limos, and the electronic canvas top is nigh on perfect, giving you near-hard-top security or total exposure to the elements at the touch of a button. Refinement levels are worthy of the best, the car has a presence that just can’t be ignored and the rear seats are usable for short journeys. The 650i is also pretty comfortable being driven on our roads and in our conditions, making it a car you can use often. It may lack the agility of an out-and-out sports car and straight-line performance may not be frenzied enough if ultimate performance is what you are looking for. But then you’re looking in the wrong place. The biggest downer, however, is the sticker price, a distinctly unfriendly Rs 1.02 crore. Likely to make you think thrice, whoever you are.
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) 96.40-162.48 crore
Warranty 24 months/unlimited
Installation Front, longitudinal
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cylinder, quadcam
Power 367bhp at 6300rpm
Power to weight 189.66bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 25.83kgm per tonne
Type Rear wheel drive
Gearbox 6 speed auto
Length 4820 mm
Width 1855 mm
Height 1374 mm
Wheel base 2780 mm
Chassis & Body
Construction Two-door convertibe, monocoque
Tyres 245/45 R19 (f) / 275/35 R19 (r)
Front Independent, double joint, spring-strut
Rear Independent, multi-link steering
Type Rack and pinion with BMW active steering
Type of power assist Hydraulic
Front 348mm ventilated discs
Rear 345mm ventilated discs
City 3.8 kpl
Highway 6.9 kpl
Tank size 70 litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol 4.7-4.9 litre