Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Auto: 2012 BMW 650i Convertible

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible

BASE PRICE: $91,375

ENGINE TYPE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 268 cu in, 4395 cc
Power (SAE net): 400 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 450 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm

TRANSMISSIONS: 8-speed automatic, 6-speed manual

Wheelbase: 112.4 in Length: 192.8 in
Width: 74.6 in Height: 53.7 in
Curb weight (mfr’s est): 4500 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 4.8–5.1 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 13.1 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 130–150 mph
EPA city/highway driving: 15–17/22–24 mpg

Think of the new 6-series as a beautiful 5-series—with all its strengths and one major shortcoming.

January 2011 

If you are shopping for a 6-series convertible, please accept our congratulations. According to BMW market research, this is your third or fourth car—not ever, mind you, but currently.

To snag such customers, the Bavarians start with style. Although the previous-generation 6 ushered in an almost iconoclastic era of BMW design, the new 6, styled by Nader Faghihzadeh, returns somewhat to the elegance of the first-generation 6 introduced in 1976. From every angle, the new car looks low and wide and oozes a subtle but unmistakable aggressiveness. The front end features a new fog-light style—executed with LEDs—and a hint of the shark nose that had all but disappeared from BMWs. Thankfully, the 650i uses an evolution of the previous car’s fabric roof instead of a heavy folding hardtop.

Inside, the new 6 is far better executed than the old. It is more driver-oriented, befitting a car with sporting aspirations—particularly a BMW. It is easy to find a comfortable seating position, at least up front. The rear seat remains as tight as before, but it is possible to take along two friends for short distances without jeopardizing the friendship.

Twin Turbos Underhood

Europe gets a 640i with an inline-six and will soon see a turbo-diesel as well. The only model for the U.S. market is the 650i, powered by BMW’s twin-turbocharged 400-hp, 4.4-liter V-8. With 450 lb-ft of torque, it simply leaves the last-gen 650i—and its naturally aspirated 4.8-liter eight—in the dust. The 2012 car always seems to have extra power in reserve, and it pulls relentlessly to its governor, which is set at a low 130 mph for regular models and 150 mph on those with the optional Sport package.

Some credit for this car’s responsiveness goes to the transmission, the ZF 8HP70 eight-speed automatic. It shifts quickly and efficiently, and its extremely tall top gear helps keep fuel consumption at acceptable levels. But if you hustle it, the 650i still slurps gas. Figure on real-world fuel economy somewhere around 12 to 14 mpg if you’re going to play hard.

More rewarding than talk of efficiency is the great soundtrack of the V-8. We’ve experienced this engine elsewhere, but here, BMW tinkered with the ignition timing to achieve a delicate burble in the exhaust whenever the automatic shifts. And with so many gears to choose from, it shifts a lot.

Wait. Who Wanted What?

As nicely as the eight-speed box works, we’re glad a six-speed manual is still available—in the U.S., anyway. European customers, it seems, are embracing the idea of modern automatics being sportier than manuals. It remains to be seen whether the manual transmission sells in relevant numbers here. “The Americans clamor for it, but then they don’t buy it,” a BMW engineer complains.

BMW talks at length about weight-reducing technologies, but this car is porkier than the one it replaces. According to BMW, it now tips the scales at a whopping 4500 pounds, up from its predecessor’s 4300. The new 6 loses the old car’s complex aluminum front structure but makes liberal use of plastic and aluminum panels.

The chassis, with a multilink suspension front and rear, does an impressive job of masking the extra pounds. Equipped with the optional active roll stabilization, it provides exceptional roadholding, making it difficult to unsettle the car even on rough pavement. The stability system doesn’t allow for much oversteer even in sport plus mode, which triggers a gratuitous but legally required warning in the instrument panel when selected. You can turn off stability control almost all the way, but it will still kick in if you hit the brakes in a slide, remaining switched off after recovery. As in other BMWs, the other chassis settings are sport, normal, and comfort.

Help Wanted at the Helm

Unfortunately, the electric steering is a reason to stay away from the sportier modes. As in the new 5-series, the steering is slightly numb on-center and feels artificially heavy, but the synthetic feel is less noticeable in comfort and normal. You can tinker with the system settings individually, but no combination will charm you.
The steering feel and the V-8’s drinking habits are the only drawbacks of an otherwise wonderful car that looks like a BMW should. The regular 6-series doesn’t have many competitors, although the even burlier M6 will return with a thoroughly reworked version of the same engine that could reach close to 600 hp. The somewhat-lighter 650i coupe will trail the convertible by six months. Whichever 6-series you choose for that fourth car, just be sure to spec the manual transmission.

BMW 650i Convertible  SPECIFICATIONS

Brake Type Electro-hydraulic
Brake ABS System 4-Wheel
Brake ABS System (Second Line) N/A
Disc - Front (Yes or ) Yes
Disc - Rear (Yes or ) Yes
Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness N/A in
Rear Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness N/A in
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume 10.6 ft³
Cooling System
Total Cooling System Capacity N/A qts
Cold Cranking Amps @ 0° F (Primary) N/A
Maximum Alternator Capacity (amps) 210
Engine Type Gas V8
Displacement 4.4L/268
Fuel System DI
SAE Net Horsepower @ RPM 400 @ 550-6400
SAE Net Torque @ RPM 450 @ 1750-4500
Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 112.4 in
Length, Overall 192.8 in
Width, Max w/o mirrors 74.6 in
Height, Overall 53.8 in
Track Width, Front 63.0 in
Track Width, Rear 65.2 in
Min Ground Clearance N/A in
Liftover Height N/A in
Fuel Tank
Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx 18.5 gal
Aux Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx N/A gal
Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity 4
Passenger Volume N/A ft³
Front Head Room N/A in
Front Leg Room N/A in
Front Shoulder Room N/A in
Front Hip Room N/A in
Second Head Room N/A in
Second Leg Room N/A in
Second Shoulder Room N/A in
Second Hip Room N/A in
EPA Fuel Economy Est - Hwy N/A MPG
Cruising Range - City N/A mi
EPA Fuel Economy Est - City N/A MPG
Fuel Economy Est-Combined N/A MPG
Cruising Range - Hwy N/A mi
EPA MPG Equivalent - City N/A
EPA MPG Equivalent - Hwy N/A
EPA MPG Equivalent - Combined N/A
Battery Range N/A mi
Steering Type Speed-sensing Variable Pwr
Steering Ratio (:1), Overall N/A
Lock to Lock Turns (Steering) N/A
Turning Diameter - Curb to Curb 38.4 ft
Turning Diameter - Wall to Wall N/A ft
Suspension Type - Front Sport
Suspension Type - Rear Sport
Front Tire Size 19 x 8.5
Rear Tire Size 19 x 8.5
Dead Weight Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. N/A lbs
Dead Weight Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. N/A lbs
Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
Trans Order Code 2MA
Trans Type 6
Trans Description Cont. Manual w/OD
First Gear Ratio (:1) 4.06
Second Gear Ratio (:1) 2.40
Third Gear Ratio (:1) 1.58
Fourth Gear Ratio (:1) 1.19
Fifth Gear Ratio (:1) 1.00
Sixth Gear Ratio (:1) 0.87
Reverse Ratio (:1) 3.68
Clutch Size N/A in
Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1) 3.46
EPA Classification Subcompact
EPA Greenhouse Gas Score N/A
Weight Information
Base Curb Weight 4629 lbs
Front Wheel Size 245/40R19 in
Rear Wheel Size 245/40R19 in
Front Wheel Material Aluminum
Rear Wheel Material Aluminum


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