Big, beautiful and brash, BMW’s 650i Sport Convertible is one of the most luxurious soft top cruisers on the market, but just don’t confuse that with laid back or docile. Stretch out your right boot, and the 4.8-litre super smooth V8 is all business.
- BMW 650i Sport Convertible; 4.8-litre V8 petrol; six-speed automatic; convertible - $245,100*
Bayerische Motoren Werke are what the letters BMW stand for in German. The English translation is Bavarian Motor Works and they’ve been in business for nearly 100 hundred years, building aircraft engines, motorbikes, and some of the world’s best driver’s cars.
There have been precious few automotive ad slogans throughout the years, which have been both honest in their message and possessed real heart and soul. The Ultimate Driving Machine is one such slogan and while it might seem like a brash statement to some, it hits the sweet spot for anyone who has been behind the wheel of a BMW motorcar, large or small.
It’s always been about the engine at BMW. You start with a great powertrain and build the car around it, only then can you “create a bond between the car and the driver that may last for a lifetime”.
But what the designers create around the engine in Munich matters plenty. It’s as much about creating beautifully styled bodies at BMW, as it is about building great engines. Always has been.
Take the 1928 BMW R62 motorcycle, a stunning looking bike in its day and proof that from the earliest times in the company’s history, the BMW badge has also been synonymous with style.
And when it came to their automobiles, they hit the mark from day one, with stunningly beautiful machines like the 1934 315/1 Sports Roadster, which had a top a top speed of around 125km/h from a 1.5 litre in-line six-cylinder engine.
Then came the more exotic lines of the 328 Roadster in 1936, one of the most sought after cars in the world and nominated for the Car of the Century.
The list goes on; with shapes like the Albrecht Goertz’s masterpiece the BMW 507 and the highly prized Z8 from the James Bond movie, The World is not enough.
Today’s BMW roadsters are just as desirable, no more so than my test car this week, the V8 powered 650i Sport Convertible. It’s a big coupe, with a big engine, and it has tonnes of road presence to boot. Just a few minutes behind the wheel of this car and you’ll feel like you’ve made it into the latest BRW Rich List, and that’s with the roof up.
Inside, it's an incredibly comfortable place to be, with some of the nicest leather bound pews in the business, and more technological kit on board than a NASA Space Shuttle.
Luxurious yes, cluttered, no. BMW have been careful to use a minimalist approach to luxury in the 650i Sport while being entirely functional, when it comes to the mostly metal fabricated switchgear.
The badge on the back of the car simply says “650i” but this is the Sport version, which means it’s got a superbly crafted M-sports steering wheel and several other standout features including Sports Suspension, which give this car all together sportier feel and surprisingly, better fuel economy.
You’ll notice the 19-inch light-alloy wheels (our test car was fitted with the optional forged wheels, a must if you have the extra cash) and the dark chrome exhaust tips, which again, add more sports character to the car.
There's a 6.8 percent reduction in fuel consumption (that’s now 10.9 litres/100km combined), which is due entirely to the newly introduced brake energy regeneration, which generates electric power from energy that would normally be lost in the brake system.
With a kerb weight of 1860 kilograms, the 650i Sport is no lightweight, so improved fuel economy is even more impressive than it might sound, especially when you consider that 0-100km/h takes just 5.6 seconds and top speed is limited to a rapid 250km/h.
Settle back into the superbly contoured leather seats, which, while large and sumptuous, are also suitably bolstered to hold you in place during some quick driving through your favourite curves.
That said the comfort is such that you may well be tempted to lower the fabric roof and take a leisurely drive along the coast, if it wasn’t for the fact, that this BMW has one very responsive and very willing 4.8-litre V8 under the bonnet.
Punch the throttle, and you’ll be rewarded with a positively tuned engine note, but with silk smooth power delivery, thanks to the 6-speed automatic box with paddle shifters. I found myself repeating the experience time and time again, just to hear this masterpiece on song.
But if you really want to get moving, hit the ‘Sport’ button which holds the gear ratios a little longer or better still, I found the quick-shifting paddles more my style when passing some slower moving traffic.
That’s the thing with this car, despite the fact that the 650i Sport Convertible employs a traditional fabric roof, it is so perfectly engineered and scuttle shake free, that you tend to forget it’s a soft top.
I said the 650i Sport was a big car. With a front-end width of 2060 millimetres, you tend to be rather careful where you position the car on turn in, at least until you realise that despite is sizeable dimensions, this car is as easy to handle as its 335i sibling.
And like all BMW’s, the steering is perfectly weighted, precise and quick to respond, requiring only minimal inputs, which feels entirely natural. This is a common trait on every car wearing the BMW badge I’ve ever driven and inspires utmost confidence for those behind the wheel.
It’s exactly the same story with this car. This is a lush cruiser by any standards, but the moment you have a need for speed during some serious overtaking, the car immediately morphs into GT mode and delivers race grade performance.
Traction won’t ever be an issue either despite the sizeable dollop of torque (490Nm) going to the rear wheels. The BMW 6 Series Sport has more grip than a truckload of fresh hot mix. Put that down to a super tight chassis and excellent weight balance. I tried to induce some rear wheel slip several times over, but there is just too much grip at the rear end for that to ever happen on anything but a dedicated skidpan.
Yes, I know it’s a convertible, but it’s such a good steer with the roof up, that it took me two days to finally agree to drop the fast acting soft top, and what a treat that was.
It doesn’t get any better than a leisurely boulevard cruise along Sydney’s Northern Beaches on a balmy summer’s evening in a 650i Sport Convertible. Heaven is one description, but add to that, a selection of 900 tracks from your iTunes library, played through a top shelf audio system with a 12 GB storage capacity, and I ask myself is there any point in ever raising the roof again?
The 650i Sport Convertible is a highly specced car, but the centrepiece must be the 8.8-inch wide screen display with high definition TV as part of the latest version of BMW’s much publicised iDrive system. With a 80GB hard drive on tap (say goodbye to the old school navigation DVD), this is probably the most intuitive user interface of any car today.
Of special note, is the satellite navigation, which I would bill as class leading for useability and general accuracy.
There is of course an extensive inventory of additional luxury and convenience features, which are worthy of mention, but this would require several more pages to list properly, but they include the brilliant and super safe Head-Up Display (although not unique to this particular BMW model or spec) and High beam assist, which eliminates the need to ever dip your headlights for an oncoming car).
And while the two rear seats are as well designed as those up front, there isn’t a whole lot of legroom back there, but kids or even teenagers won't have a problem.
And don’t worry about your Toni & Guy hair style, the optional glass wind deflector guarantees you arrive at your destination without a single hair out of place.
Boot space in most convertibles is usually compromised but the 650i Sport Convertible manages a creditable 350-litres of load space, which is ideal for a couple of large soft bags.
BMW have created a thoroughly desirable soft top, which while impeccably appointed, never compromises on performance or handling. In short, the 650i Sport Convertible drives as well as any serious GT hardtop.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: