2016 BMW 650i Coupe
2016-02-05 by David
The luxury coupe is back in fashion, and would you believe it, BMW was already there waiting for us to realize. Sitting pretty as the grand tourer of choice for the teutonic set is the BMW 650i Coupe, sixteen feet of twin-turbo excess that - for $90k or thereabouts - will alternately cosset and hurtle you and three of your family, lovers, or friends. At a time when BMW's big sedans are all looking a little similar - is that a 5 Series, or a 7, or maybe perspective playing tricks with a 3? - the 650i Coupe stands apart. It's actually one of three body styles the 6 Series is available in: you can also have a soft-top Convertible, or a slinky four-door Gran Coupe which drags out the wheelbase too.
In hard-top form, it's a handsome and imposing yacht of a car. Classic coupe proportions emphasize the aggressive kidney grille and frowning LED headlamps, and if the chrome is too much for you then the Black Accent package - not part of this particular car - ditches it for more subtle trim.
Inside, the front seats are more like supportive thrones, with a degree of adjustability you might not have experienced since your last trip to the dentist. The dashboard rises up and around you like a wave, deeply cowled and sprouting a large, widescreen 10.2-inch display atop the center stack.
The 6 Series has been around a few years now, and BMW keeps ramping up the standard-fit gadgetry to keep it competitive. Most of it can be controlled via the iDrive knob - which also shifts like a joystick and can be scrawled upon for letter-by-letter text entry - but there's no shortage of physical buttons either, neatly laid out in broad, horizontal slices. Standard, you get navigation, a Harman Kardon surround sound audio system, 20-way power front seats with leather, parking sensors front and rear, rain-sensing wipers, and adaptive LED lights.
BMW had ticked a few options boxes on this particular car, mind, starting out with the $1,700 Driver Assistance Plus package that throws in active blind spot detection, active driving assistant, and the useful side/top view cameras that help navigate the not-inconsiderable car into tight parking spots.
The rear seats aren't exactly welcoming for adults, but they're not impossible. If you're around 5'8 or under, and you have a similarly sized person in front of you, there's just enough space into which you can slot your legs. Actually accessing those rear seats is arguably more tricky, demanding no small amount of contortion around the B-pillar; just tell your passengers that it's yoga practice for the subsequent leg-slotting.
When left in the Comfort+ setting, the 650i Coupe wafted smoothly, and in the Sport and Sport+ modes from the adaptive shocks - dubbed Driving Dynamics Control - gave the most driving interest. You won't mistake it for a Porsche, but you can push the M Sport suspension harder than you'd expect, and still cling serenely to the corners.
Steering feel is a little desensitized from the road - this is, after all, more of a long-distance champion for the luxe set - and downright anesthetized in Comfort+, but the BMW resolutely goes where you point it. Better is the 8-speed automatic transmission which, once you've manhandled the oddly-shaped stick into place, proves determined to pick the right gear at the right time, and does a darned good job at it. Shifts are fast, and though you can take over with the steering wheel paddles, the auto will likely outsmart you. BMW's attention to detail and quality in the cabin is first rate, there's plenty of room in the trunk, and the V8 can be by turns sporty and serene. Even the 20 mpg combined economy (17 in the city; 25 on the highway).