The Bavarian Motor Works company has come a long way since the Dixi, the company’s first production car made in 1928. The 4-cylinder Dixi produced 15 horsepower, and could bust it up to about 50 mph. The 2012 650i Coupe does a little better. With its twin-turbo 4.4-liter engine, the 650i kicks out 400 horsepower and is electronically limited to 155 mph, lest some foolishly outdrive their ability.
Most drivers don’t have the funds on hand for this car (approaching $100-grand). Those who do, however, will find it rather impractical – and fun as all get-out to drive. It’ll turn heads all over town, and better yet, it will deliver a world-class driving experience. It’s a fairly heavy car, but it can still dive into corners and launch itself to 60 mph in a mere 4.8 seconds.
Redesigned for the 2012 model year, the 650i Coupe is longer (2.95-inches) and wider (1.5-inches) than its predecessor. The result is improved driving dynamics and a firm, planted feeling on the road. And it’s easy on the eyes, too. Unmistakably BMW, the coupe’s lines flow like water from the blue, white and black logo on the hood to the back of the vehicle. BMW says the design changes for 2012 reflect the “natural movement of waves.” From the side, the car is low and lean and athletic, from the forward-sloping kidney grille past the adaptive LED headlights and along the tall, straight shoulder line.
Inside, the configuration is 2+2. The front seats are covered with exquisite Nappa leather and adjust 20 ways. A button on the seatbacks powers the front seats forward, making it easier, slightly, to get into the back seat. Still, the cramped back seat should be reserved for very short trips. In front, however, the driver-oriented cockpit is a hallmark of BMW. The company’s iDrive controller has been made much more intuitive, and there’s a 10.2-inch wide high-def screen for navigation, camera, entertainment and vehicle setting functions.
The 650i has some pretty special cameras – rear-view, side-view and top-view – that are of great use to the driver. Many drivers are familiar with the standard rear-view camera, but BMW adds fish-eye lenses to the side mirrors and front fender. The fender cams, which can be activated at speeds below 10 mph, give the driver a right/left view of cross traffic, while the side mirror cameras work with the other cameras and a computer to generate a precise, 360-degree view from above the vehicle. Imagine standing on a stepladder on the roof of the car and looking straight down. Most camera systems are useful in general, but this is one of very few systems that I would totally rely on for maneuvering in tight parking spaces.
The vehicle has not been rated for safety, but there are a host of standard features to protect occupants in an accident. All the standard features like stability and traction control and anti-lock braking are included in BMW’s Advanced Safety System. But the company has added systems like lane departure and blind spot monitoring to prevent an accident from occurring in the first place. A full complement of airbags and adaptive headlights are also standard.
The rear-wheel drive 650i is available with either an 8-speed sport transmission with paddle shifters or a 6-speed manual. Speed-sensitive power steering is precise, and settings on the center console allow the driver to select a ride ranging from “comfort” to “normal” to “sport” and “sport-plus.”
The 650i has a base price of $83,000, but with a driver assistance package, the fabulous Bang & Olufsen sound system and other extras, the bottom line on the test 2012 650i Coupe was $95,825.
If your wallet is as big as your desire to have the best, take a good long look at this car.
Engine 4.4-liter Twin Turbo V-8
Test model base price
EPA mileage rating
15 mpg city / 23 mpg highway