2012 BMW 650i Convertible: Topless Engineering
Written by Kimatni D. Rawlins
We all know that convertible weather is most appreciated when the forecast is bright and sunny. A soft breeze doesn’t hurt either. For no one wants to be stuffed in a coupe with the air conditioning on when Mother Nature is cooperating. Dully noted; so Automotive Rhythms (AR) headed to the southern tip of Mexico in Los Cabos to enjoy topless German engineering at its finest.
The BMW 6 Series is no stranger to the editorial and lifestyle teams at AR. In 2007, we took delivery of a long-term 2008 650i Convertible. Into its second model generation then, the Bavarian drop-top was very popular on the scene with its menacing profile and dandy 360-horsepower 4.8-liter V8. Requests from music artists and celebrities alike to assimilate our loaner BMW arose from all angles; especially for video shoots. However, the interior was not on par with its fellow countrymen and iDrive was still controversial to most. But there are only a few luxury performance cabriolets on the market to choose from including the Mercedes-Benz SL and Jaguar XK.
Evolution now brings to market BMW’s third generation 6 Series Convertible with more power, performance, intelligence, safety and technology. Let’s begin with the vehicle’s distinctive characteristics. For one, the 2012 650i Coupe and Convertible are two totally different vehicles. BMW did not simply chop off the roof of the coupe to manifest the convertible -- the two were designed and engineered separately for their intended needs. Specifically with the convertible, when the Black or Beige multi-layer canvas roof is up the cabin is perfectly quiet with not much wind noise. It opens in 19 seconds and returns in 24 seconds and can do so while the vehicle is moving up to 25 mph. I would like to see that time reduced since 24 seconds is a long time if the clouds decide to suddenly burst. The SL and its hard-top retractable roof takes only 12 seconds. Let’s give BMW the benefit of the doubt since the 650i Convertible is a 4-seater and requires a larger roof. This is also the same reasoning why BMW stuck with a soft-top over a hard-top. A heated rear window plays double duty allowing fresh air into the cabin when the top is up and keeps air disturbance to a minimum when the top is down.
To explore the sophistication of the $91,375 650i Convertible, BMW set up a pleasing 6-hour drive from Los Cabos to La Paz for lunch at the Clubhouse at Costabaja Marina & Golf Course and back. My drive partner Jason Allan and I ventured off from the magnificent Las Ventanas al Paraiso Resort in a Vermillion Red Metallic 650i with a black top and Ivory White Nappa leather interior with the optional contrast stitching. Vermillion Red, Cinnamon Brown and Black are the other interior hues. It was a gorgeous day in Mexico and provided for a great amount of dynamic drive time. Jason drove first which allowed me to become acquainted with the newly sophisticated touches and finishes of the 650i. I especially like the novel 10.2” iPad like screen display which is wrapped in chrome and mounted within the top of the dash. It brings the iDrive operated navigation, entertainment, phone and vehicle information features closer to both driver and passenger. I’m also a huge fan of the current iDrive which is simple to control and far more advanced than any other control system on the market. Some of my colleagues think otherwise, but that’s because they haven’t spent true time with it! The 80 gig hard drive is special but I had no CDs or USB with music or photos to rip to it. So we rocked The Joint on SIRIUS as loud as the base system would allow while I laid back in those new performance and 20-way adjustable, leather sport seats. We even noticed the sturdier and deeper cup-holders. An optional and specifically 650i Convertible designed Bang & Olufsen sound system will be introduced in the fall. Expect the unit to adjust your final tally an additional $5,500 or so.
Jason took it easy on the Mexican roads in route to our first stopover. Checking out a fleet of convertibles in Cabo was a sight to see. The emotions and gestures from the locals was prime for reality TV; especially when the next most luxurious vehicle was an older model Chevy Tahoe. I prefer the vehicle in Black. There’s something special about a dark convertible. Today’s 650i is lower, wider and longer than the prior model and instills softer lines. It looks much more dynamic on the go than sitting still. BMW will definitely lose some traditional fans as well as simultaneously gain some. I’ve already heard arguments from both sides. I don’t mind the new styling, and I’m sure the M6 will make up for any lost expectations. One thing that sets off the Bimmer’s physique is the optional 20” rims which BMW says they fought hard for. Normally the European market gets all the goods first and most times soley!
At the rest stop we mingled with our pals discussing the first leg of the journey. So far so good. Jason jumped in the rear to evaluate its roominess. “Can you stay back there for a road trip,” I asked. “I can make it to dinner,” he said with a smirk. It was now my time to drive.
At the heart of the new 6 Series Convertible is the virtuous and familiar 4.4-liter direct injection twin-turbo V-8 engine with 400-horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm. It’s the same engine in the 2011 5 Series which we toy around with quite often. We have smoked many of your favorite nameplates out there including the 2012 Audi A8. I used the paddled shifters to keep the 8-speed sport automatic in the proper gears for my acceleration around slow moving traffic and out of tight mountain roads. A few times I scared Jason on the edge of steep overlooks which already had flowers and well wishes for obviously someone who didn’t have Integral Active Steering which allows the rear wheels to turn with or against the front axle depending on speed; Roll-Over Protection System with two high-strength rolls bars; a Dynamic Stability Control system with Dynamic Traction Control mode; Active Roll Stabilization and Dynamic Damper Control for ultimate body control while cornering at elevated speeds. So you see, Jason had nothing to worry about. And if I did have to brake hard, such as the moment when we entered a small town and drove slowly over a set of camouflaged speed bumps before accelerating again, the advanced braking system would have done the rest. “Speed Bump!,” emphatically yelled Jason. Instantly I pressured the brake all the way to the floor to save the oil pan! Wow, I didn’t notice that last one. The floating-caliper brakes with vented discs and the corresponding Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) brought the vehicle to a complete stop instantaneously. Afterwards I was on it again switching the vehicle between comfort and sport depending on the road surface. We didn’t mind the long hours. What else would you rather spend your time doing?
The coupe and x-Drive all-wheel drive arrive in the fall. Maybe now I can handle the 6 Series with ultimate flow in the Jersey snow just as much as my delightful fun in the Cabo sun.