Review: 2016 BMW 650i Convertible

October 31, 2015

As introduced in its 2003 second-gen iteration, some magazines called it BMW’s Bad-Boy. We have seen through the years, bad-boys sometimes grow up. Along the way, they become more refined but still maintain a little sass and swagger. The 2016 BMW 650i Convertible seems to tick all of those boxes, but just to be certain we had to check it out.

What is it?
Now in its third generation, the 2016 BMW 650i convertible sits at the pinnacle of the brand’s personal sports car range. A two-door, four-passenger convertible, it is available in a variety of flavors and powertrain options. Our sampler was powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 engine that sounds like it was lifted from a NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar. Power from the twin turbocharged direct injection engine hits a peak of 445 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and 480 lb-ft of torque between 2,000-4,500 rpm.

All that torque is sent to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with launch control, which can be switched either by the gearshift selector lever or steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

While the standard 6-Series suspension is no slouch, our range topping 650i included Dynamic Damper Control, which changes the suspension set up via sensors that read the road surfaces hundreds of times per second. Our 6 also included adaptive drive with active roll stabilization to further enhance road control.

Partially tied in with the suspension system is the BMW Driving Dynamics Control switch located just to the left of the gear selector lever. Through this switch, the driver has the ability to change throttle, suspension, and transmission parameters ranging from Comfort, Eco-Pro, Sport and Sport+ settings, depending on their mood and that of their passengers.

Interior comforts abound from this very driver oriented cockpit and include standard navigation and a rather stately 10.2-inch HD screen. That widescreen view displays vehicle, audio, climate, smartphone integration and BMW ConnectedDrive technology, all which are accessed through the console-mounted iDrive controller knob.

Our 650i was ordered with the Executive package as well as the Black Accent package. Those option groups included such items as soft close automatic doors, front ventilated seats, heads up display, LED fog lights, and 20-inch painted alloy wheels.

For buyers watching their wallets with a concern for style over power, BMW offers a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine. For those in the snowbelt, there are xDrive all-wheel-drive models and finally a four-door Gran Coupe version. For extreme power users there is the M6.

What’s it up against?
Decisions, decisions…

This segment is chock full of desirable vehicles including the ultra slick Jaguar F-Type in its various iterations, the new C7 Corvette, and the Porsche 911. To a lesser degree, buyers may be interested in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible. Perhaps it comes down to how much loose change you can find under the sofa cushions?

How does it look?
Similar to the previous generation, the 2016 650i builds on its predecessor’s good looks and refines it further. The signature BMW kidney grille returns with revisions to improve cooling to the hi-revving engine. New fog light surrounds move further out and emphasize the 650i’s width, while a revised rear fascia does the same.

The one-touch convertible roof with its sweptback and buttressed profile is one of the better-looking examples of a topless cruiser that we have seen. In the closed position, it is almost as quiet as the standard coupe. It is enhanced through the addition of a functional rear window that disappears into the trunk. Speaking of trunk, it has the cargo-hauling capacity of 12.4-cubic feet.

And the inside?
BMW has always been known as a driver’s car and the 650i is no exception. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not luxurious as well. To that end our tester was equipped with cognac and black hued Nappa leather, which is treated to reflect UV rays. Fineline
wood trim veneers dress up the cabin and assist in accenting the single needle tan stitching that is seen throughout the cockpit.The tilt and telescoping multifunction steering wheel enabled a comfortable driving position that we found suitable for an extended ride. When we dropped the top on this BMW sports beast, the ventilated surfaces of the multi-contour seats kept us cool during those waning days of summer.

And as if our senses weren’t stimulated enough, there was always the Harmon-Kardon HD audio system to back us up.

But does it go?
Sporting an exhilarating powertrain, the BMW 650i and its 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 offered acceleration as potent as a just-ingested dose of Viagra, meaning step on it and almost instantly you are beyond the reach of most, if not all of the also-rans. Banging through the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with sport mode functionality and steering wheel mounted paddle shift levers had us channeling our inner boy racer soul, especially when engaging the 650i’s launch control.

Handling was sporting without being bone-jarring. We found the steering was instantly responsive, with nary a slight bit of play. On an extended road trip to Gainesville, Florida we found a car with lightning quick reflexes and the well sorted handling that encourages you to drive at 11/10ths through twisty turns and sweepers. Credit that to the dynamic damper control system, which changed up the spring rates on the fly in milliseconds, while working in conjunction with the adaptive drive system with active roll stabilization.

Cruising at speed in this ultimate driving machine, the 650i’s multi-layer convertible roof did its part to keep outside noise at bay. The end result was almost as quiet as a mausoleum, well a BMW mausoleum. The company states naught to 60 mph comes in 4.5-seconds. Terminal velocity is reached at a governed 150 mph. Fuel economy is 17 city/25 highway with a 20 mpg average.

As they say on the TV commercials, if euphoric behind-the-wheel behavior continues beyond four hours, you are encouraged to seek medical attention. We think you’ll attract other types of attention as well.

Leftlane‘s bottom line
A refined luxury beast, the BMW 650i Convertible does double duty with the roof up, as a sports coupe, and with it stowed, as an al-fresco, all day cruiser. Offering tons of refinement and a dose of bad-boy sass, it definitely earns its place as a motoring classic.

2016 BMW 650i Convertible base price, $95,400. As tested, $101,650.
Black Accent Package, $1,400; Cold Weather package, $400; Executive Package, $3,300; Black Accent Package, Smartphone Integration, $200; Destination Fee, $950.

Photos by Mark Elias.

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