Recession? What recession?
As a journalist, part of my job is to observe the world objectively. As an automotive journalist, my job is to see the world through the eyes of would-be drivers, providing them with insights and observations about everything from powertrains to pricing.
So when a car that toes the line of $100K comes across my radar, I immediately take notice. And let’s be blunt: in these economic times, taking notice can come with a degree of initial skepticism. Can this car--the 2012 BMW 650i convertible- really be worth it?
For most drivers, the answer would be “no,” but for a select few that will have the good fortune to get behind the wheel of this performance automaker’s 650i convertible, as I did recently, the answer will be “yes, yes, oh my goodness, yes.”
A Two-Step Process
If you’re considering (or simply salivating over) the Bavarians’ latest high-end soft top, there are two steps to the process. First, put aside any thoughts of practicality. The 2012 BMW 650i is strikingly good-looking on the outside and in the sumptuous cockpit. It’s also highly-equipped, not to mention uber powerful – but, it’s not made for toting groceries or driving the kids to school. Starting at $91,535, this two-door, four-seater just wasn’t made to do your dirty work.
Second, read the owner’s manual - twice - and watch the DVDs, listen to the salesperson and ask for any in-dealer training sessions that are available because this ride has a long list of technologies that require some getting used to, especially if this is your first Bimmer. A joy-stick-like knob is the master controller for many functions; it’s intuitive for drivers who enjoy video games and spend quality time on the Internet, whereas others will likely need to practice when the vehicle is stationary.
All wrapped up in a striking package
The exterior of the 2012 BMW 650i is stunning. The hood is sculpted by dual lines that extend back from the headlamps, which integrate the brand’s signature double-round eyes and kidney-shaped grille. The sides are also scooped out slightly for a slenderizing aerodynamic look, and the rear is finished with dual trapezoidal-shapes exhaust pipes. The nose is slightly snubbed, while the back end tapers and tucks to make the overall profile look svelte.
What we drove
We drove an Alpine White 2012 BMW 650i, with a cinnamon brown Napa leather interior that was punctuated by contrast stitching, a leather console, oak wood trim, and ceramic controls. The cream-colored exterior was beset by a black soft top; BMW’s “fin” style roof (so called because of the “fins” that project out along the flanks of the car and then integrate into its rear section) opens and closes via a button on the dash, or can be controlled remotely by a button on the car’s key fob. The drop-top opens in under 20 seconds, and closes in 24 seconds and can be activated at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Take note: many red lights stop traffic for 30 seconds, so we found this allows plenty of time to lose your cover and let the sun shine in!
Priced at $103,525 (with $875 destination charge), our ride came with a cache of upscale standard amenities and a collection of options, that included a Cold Weather Package (heated steering wheel, ski bag and heated front seats); Driver Assistance Package (auto high beams, land departure warning, active blind spot detection, side and top view cameras, parking assistant, and heads-up display); Premium Sound Package; and 20-inch wheels with performance tires and Active Roll Stabilization to keep the rubber underneath the ride.
The 2012 BMW 650i derives its potent power from a 4.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 that makes 407 hp and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is matched to turbochargers and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, but powertrain management is calibrated so that average fuel consumption can stretch to 26 mpg – top of the class for its model type, says BMW (EPA figures rate the BMW at 16/24 city/highway). Mated to the V-8 is an eight-speed automatic transmission, that is engaged through BMW’s unique iDrive gear shift, along with steering-wheel-mounted manual transmission shift paddles that allow you to keep both hands on the wheel when shifting the responsive self-shifting style.
Standard are Driving Dynamics Control and Dynamic Stability Control that monitor and enhance motoring, plus supply start-off-assistance, brake fade and brake drying, and traction control to mitigate errant driving maneuvers and assist with accident-avoidance.
The 2012 BMW 6 Series convertible comes with BMW’s Drive Dynamic Control, a system that lets you select suspension settings, using a button on the center console. Ride settings are NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT+ modes; COMFORT setting is also offered as part of an option package that includes Adaptive Drive, which is designed to stabilize and firm up the car’s response to fast direction-change situations.
Floating-caliper brakes have inner-vented discs that are backed by a host of handling and braking technologies, including ABS and integrated traction/stability control. Standard wheels are 18-inch light-alloys, rimmed with runflat tires.
Room to relax
Configured to seat four, the 2012 BMW 6 Series convertible has more legroom and headroom (that’s with the roof closed) than last year’s model. An optional ski bag has an opening in the rear seat backrest and holds two sets of skis; while not large, the trunk can fit a couple sets of golf clubs.
During our weeklong test drive of the BMW 6 Series convertible, access to the rear seat was our only significant complaint. Integrated into the back of the front buckets is a handle that is designed to release the front seat back and propel the seats away from the rear, giving a clear path for admittance to the back. For us, it was always a protracted process, especially when we installed a booster seat in the back to give a young performance-car devotee a wind-in-the-hair ride.
The 2012 BMW 650i convertible has a 7-inch (or optional 10.2-inch) freestanding navigation/infotainment screen that looks nearly as thin as a flatscreen monitor. This system, along with air vents, audio system and air conditioning controls, are all angled slightly towards the driver for ergonomic ease, when motoring. Standard on the navigation system is Real Time Traffic Information to aid your commute or Sunday drive. Our model also came with an upgraded, optional Premium Sound Package.
Serious inquiries only
The base price for the 2012 BMW 650i convertible starts $91,375 and tops out well above $105,000 depending on the options and packages you choose. It comes with a 4-year/50,000 full maintenance program and 4-year/unlimited mile BMW Roadside Assistance.
BMW provided the vehicle for this review.