2011 BMW 650i convertible review, test drive
11th May 2011 7:00 am
BMW's twin-turbo 650i convertible driven!
The 50i stands for a 4.4-litre turbo V8 and 407bhp. Zero-100kph comes up in just 5.2 seconds and it can hit 200 with breathtaking ferocity. However, the BMW 650i stands for more than just gut-wrenching performance. This car aims to envelope you in elegance and grace while you tear up the tarmac.
BMW has opted for a much sharper design in contrast to the aggressive look of its predecessor. The car’s dimensions are enormous, especially when viewed side-on and the rear appears especially stunning with its elongated tail-lamps, matching exhausts and myriad surfaces embellishing the look. Peep inside and you will be greeted by an extremely well-built, black and red two-tone interior. The 650i has the regular features that adorned the previous iteration - the iDrive, paddle shifts, adjustable driver modes and the like.
In terms of space inside, the rear seats look quite generous at first, but even short people cannot be seated comfortably here. There is a prominent ridge at the rear and this makes this car strictly a 2+2. Also, getting in and out of the rear seat is a bit inconvenient as the front seats don't fold down enough and are fiddly to adjust when done.
The main attraction is the 4.4 litre direct injection, twin turbo, V8 motor. The silky smoothness of the motor is amply evident when cruising, and what adds to this is the avalanche of power unleashed as soon as the pedal is stapled to the floor. The 650i took a scant 5.2sec to go from zero to 100kph, making it one of the quickest cars we’ve tested and the wide spread of torque available actually makes it an incredibly powerful tool, especially when mated to ZF's eight-speed gearbox. The power delivery is relentless, and even though the gearbox fell below our expectations, the massive torque more than made up for its inadequacies.
BMW's Adaptive Drive is an option on this car and comes with adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars. However, despite the adaptive setup, the 650i's suspension doesn't feel well sorted. Sport was the setting of choice to attack corners but the 650i doesn't feel very committed as the stiff front end gets unsettled when zipping over broken surfaces. And the rear is set much too soft and this big convertible lacks the lithe and precise feel that makes cars like this fun to drive by the scruff of the neck. Dulling the experience to some degree is the electro-hydraulic steering. In Normal mode, it isn't very communicative and lacks the precise and meaty feel. In Sport+, the steering weight improves significantly. Still, there is vagueness at the dead-ahead position which is a bit of a pity for a BMW.
For the most part, however, this car will be used for in-town journeys. The Normal and Sport mode can be toggled for use in the city and on highway runs respectively, so you can enjoy the generous amounts of power even under changing environments.
Though we didn't do a complete fuel efficiency run, the 650i proved to be quite thirsty and never returned more than 5kpl. Driven with a heavy foot, that figure will go down even further.
Blisteringly quick, very attractive and beautifully built and equipped, the 650i is a great luxury car. A fantastic cruiser that can cover miles with utmost ease, this convertible could be the ultimate indulgence. Great for that night drive to your favourite hotel or for that early morning drive up in the hills, the 650i soft top slots perfectly into the lives of the rich and famous. It’s not a sports car though and it comes at an eye-watering price, but if you want effortless, fast, luxurious and convertible all rolled into one, then this is the car.