Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 20, 2016
It wasn’t always love at first sight. When the third generation BMW 6 Series was unveiled in 2012, I thought it was an ugly duckling in the midst of a dazzling BMW lineup. The curves were all wrong, the sheetmetal too bulbous, the track too wide, and it was way too heavy. The price for this full-size luxury cruiser was astronomical too, commanding a near-$30,000 premium over the 5 Series that it shares its platform with.
I told myself, what a blunder, but then it started to grow on me. The more I saw it on the road and in the flesh, the more I enjoyed its looks and stance. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment but like the acquired taste of coffee or scotch, the 6 Series suddenly flew from a stark zero to a perfect ten. I grew to love this majestic bullet.
Yes, the 6 Series shares its underpinnings with the 5 Series, but you’d never have guessed it from the first glance. The 6 is longer, wider, and a bit shorter than the 5 to offer that low slung, athletic posture. It looks like it came straight out of a wind tunnel – a sultry design inspired by sport boats apparently. The proportions are timeless, the elongated hood is muscular, and the rear is just all sorts of jaw dropping class.
The 6 Series is available in three body styles: a two-door coupe, a four-door coupe, and a convertible, each with different flavours ranging from the M6 attack dog sitting at the helm to a more exclusive Alpina B6 that tickles the fancy of those who swim in exclusivity.
There are three engines lit across the lineup, a turbocharged straight-six, and two variants of an eight-cylinder. Unfortunately, BMW’s creamy six isn’t available in a coupe or cabriolet, only in the four-door Gran Coupe. Neither is a diesel option that is only found overseas. All-wheel drive is standard on all but the M6 models, which are rear-wheel drive only.
We were given the opportunity to test drive the 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet last week, and it served to be just another reminder of how much we adore the 6. The Tanzanite Blue paint (as part of the BMW Individual customization program) offered a nice shimmer under the sun, and while those white leather seats aren’t my go-to choice for my fresh denim-loaded closet, it undoubtedly looks stunning (when clean).
Unlike the Mercedes-Benz SL 450 or the smaller BMW Z4, the 6 Series Cabriolet sticks with a traditional fabric soft-top. Be that as it may, the roof movement process is a bit lengthy compared to other vehicles, mainly because the mechanism is fairly intricate. It takes 19 seconds to pull down, and 24 seconds to put up, but it is possible to operate the roof up to 40 km/h, meaning you won’t have to pullover on the highway when the clouds start spitting.
With the roof up and overhead, the cabin is quite noisy for a grand touring cruiser – you’ll start to realize why some people prefer the superior insulation of hardtops better. The cabin isn’t MX-5 loud, but it’s still noisy enough that when lorries pass you on the highway, it will wake your passengers up from their cozy massaging seat slumber.
But it’s when the roof is down that the 650i Cabriolet excels. The lack of wind buffeting seeping into the cabin is what sets it apart from other GT roadsters like the Mercedes-Benz SL 450 and, well, that’s about it actually. The Jaguar XK Convertible is extinct, and everything else like the Bentley Continental and Aston Martin DB9 are in an entirely different price bracket.
Below 100 km/h and with the windows up, gusts of wind tickle your hair follicles rather than put it through a category five hurricane. Even at highway speeds below 120 km/h, wind turbulence is only enough to gently flutter your shirt collar – you can easily hold a conversation with your passengers using your indoor voice.
There’s even a rear glass window that can be lowered or raised independently of the roof, like a full-size version of the ones you find in pick-up trucks, which aids in circulation and blockage of wind. I’ve never experienced such a well-insulated cabin from a convertible before.
One nitpick: the 6 Series Cabriolet doesn’t offer an air scarf option like the one we found in the 4 Series Cabriolet, which are a set of fans that blow hot air around your neck to extend its use during the colder seasons, but they do make up for it with what BMW calls SunReflective technology. This is a process where they treat the convertible’s leather seats and steering wheel with a special pigment that reflects direct sunlight and keeps the upholstery surfaces nice and cool on a hot summer day. Whether the roof is up or down, your buttocks will never have to sizzle again.
Instead, it will let you focus on soaking up and admiring the minimalistic interior. The cabin design is straightforward with a driver-focused dashboard angled right towards them. The two-tone leather finish is exceptional ($5,900 for Full Merino Leather), and helps to emphasize the infotainment’s friendly interface and ease of use. The 2017 BMW 650i also brings the latest version of iDrive as well as new buttons, wireless charging, and Wi-Fi hot spot.
Those worried about the convertible’s rear seats will be glad to hear that they are usable for adults, but only if the front seat occupants can squeeze their position forward to the point that their knees just touch the dashboard. Some buyers might bring up the fact that the rivaling Mercedes-Benz SL only has two seats compared to the 6’s four, but the SL has a larger trunk as a result, and embarrasses the 650i’s narrow and bunker-like example. Those wishing to consistently (and comfortably) carpool with a party of four might want to stick with the more family-friendly four-door Gran Coupe instead.
The 6 Series is all about smooth sailing in a quiet yet confident manner. The engine in the 650i has a different character than the straight sixes we’re used to from BMW. There are no pops or burbles on overrun, no raspy farts on downshifts, nothing but silence until you gun it in Sport Mode. Only then will the twin-turbo V8 with 445-hp and 480 lb-ft come alive and charge down the straight with a proper warbling roar.
Autobahn-ready straight out of the box, the 650i Cabriolet eats up highway tarmac with ease and appetite. It revs hard through its 8-speed gearbox like a nuclear missile, while the blurring trees and digital speedometer are the only measures telling you you’re going way too fast because no matter the speed, the 650i stays serene, smooth, and seemingly inert compared to the world on the other side of the glass.
The 650i Cabriolet prefers a sober agenda though, one that includes wafting rather than carving. But if you do so choose the latter, the cabriolet is rigid and composed enough to enjoy even the most challenging of canyon roads – the wide footprint can be a bit of a handful though when caressing its long hood around the bends.
One of our criticisms is that there are too many driving modes to choose from: there is a Comfort mode and a Sport mode, both flanked by Comfort+ and Sport+ modes to balance it all out. Oh, and don’t forget about Eco Pro mode either. But without the optional Adaptive Dampers ($2,500), switching between these modes is only tailoring the steering effort, throttle mapping, and gear changes. Why not just make it simpler then and keep it between a choice of Comfort and Sport?
As with every personal luxury vehicle with a starting price above $100,000, the options are endless, and pricey. Loaded up, our 650i xDrive Cabriolet hovers above $125,000. Personally we’d skip every option and package as the cabriolet already comes standard with all of the droptop essentials like heated seats, heated steering wheel, and a wind deflector, but who are we to tell you what to do when you have $100,000 to spare.
What we will tell you though is that we don’t see much need for the hardcore M6. The 650i is nearly as loud, is just as desirable, and costs much less. The majestic two-door Coupe is still our preferred choice in the 6 Series lineup but it’s nice to know that in losing its roof, the Cabriolet doesn’t sacrifice its smooth missile antics and turns into one of the most tranquil yet exhilarating grand touring convertibles on the market.
型号 Model: 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet
顏色 Paint Type: Tanzanite Blue Metallic ($1,000)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $111,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $126,800
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,855
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,894 / 1,894 / 1,365
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,105
引擎 Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 445 hp @ 5,500 - 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 480 lb-ft @ 2,000 - 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 14.8 / 9.6 / 12.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 16.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Front 245/35R10; Rear 275/30R20