Un­flus­tered so­phis­ti­ca­tion

BRIAN BAS­SETT cruises in the BMW 650i Auto con­vert­ible, de­spite lack­ing an is­land home

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

THE Chris Ban­gle era at BMW re­sulted in a num­ber of con­tentious de­signs, which pro­voked ar­gu­ment amongst fans of the brand and the 6- se­ries did not es­cape lightly.

It had what came to be known as the “Ban­gle Butt” and Jeremy Clark­son once com­mented that, if you vis­ited friends with a 6- se­ries, you should re­verse out of their drive­way to pre­vent them from see­ing what he called the car’s di­vi­sive rear end.

The new 6- se­ries launched in 2014 has how­ever had its prob­lems sorted out by the new de­sign di­rec­tor Adrian van Hooy­donk and has re­sulted in a flash car which tells ev­ery­one that you have a se­cond home in Mau­ri­tius.

We ex­press our thanks to An­thony El­lis, dealer prin­ci­pal at SMG Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, for al­low­ing us to spend a few days with the car.

Styling

Many cars are dis­tinc­tive, but only a few can be de­scribed as beau­ti­ful. The flow­ing, dy­namic lines of the 650 con­vert­ible make it one of the few.

The car has a sharp- nosed front end with the usual kid­ney grille, flanked by Adap­tive Xenon headlights with high beam as­sist and fog lights flank­ing an air scoop at the base of the front end.

All lines sweep to­wards the rear, giv­ing the car’s de­sign a feel­ing of power and dy­namism. LED re­peater lights are in­te­grated into the side gills, adding char­ac­ter to the ve­hi­cle.

The doors are of the soft close au­to­matic va­ri­ety and the car hun­kers down on its 19- inch, light al­loy wheels with run­flat tyres.

The “Ban­gle Butt” has made way for a so­phis­ti­cated rear end and the rear tail light clus­ter is typ­i­cally BMW, with a flash­ing func­tion so those be­hind can tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a light tap on the brake and a hard stop.

The roof is ro­bust and drops in 19 sec­onds, while clos­ing in 24 sec­onds.

In­te­rior

The in­te­rior is a nice place to be. With the roof up it is quiet and cozy. With the roof down the ride is al­most quiet, if you have the op­tional wind de­flec­tor.

The typ­i­cally- BMW in­stru­ments are an­gled a few de­grees to­wards the driver and the cen­tre con­sole has an in­trigu­ing twist, which is Teu­ton­i­cally per­fect in ex­e­cu­tion and makes the con­trols much eas­ier to use.

There is also a heads- up dis­play, which pro­vides a wide va­ri­ety of in­for­ma­tion and makes driv­ing safer.

The cen­tral stack is topped off by a screen, which re­flects the au­dio, tele­phone, nav­i­ga­tion, re­vers­ing cam­era and com­puter sys­tems, al­though I was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that this did not fold away, as in the Z4.

The leather fin­ishes are su­perbly done and the en­tire in­te­rior ra­di­ates qual­ity and care. Ac- cess to the rear seats is easy, even for an old man like me, and the de­gree of rear com­fort of­fered is ac­cept­able.

The rag­top takes lit­tle space and even with the roof down you will be able to fit equip­ment for two golfers into the large boot, while with the roof up the space avail­able is con­sid­er­able.

The in­te­rior also has BMW’s Sun Re­flec­tive Tech­nol­ogy, which pre­vents over heat­ing of the seats and fad­ing of the in­te­rior. What I re­ally liked about the in­te­rior was the un­flus­tered feel­ing it com­mu­ni­cated to pas­sen­gers and the con­se­quent re­laxed driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The 6- se­ries is a safe ve­hi­cle with six airbags pro­tect­ing var­i­ous parts of the body, as well as the usual seat­belts and ISOFIX child seat at­tach­ments.

There is ABS with EBD, a re­in­forced body shell, as well as Dy­namic Sta­bil­ity and Trac­tion Con­trol, a Roll- over pro­tec­tion sys­tem, Ac­tive Head­rests, a run­flat in­di­ca­tor and safety bat­tery ter­mi­nal. The car has cen­tral lock­ing and an alarm sys­tem, but it is bet­ter never to leave the car with the roof down.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The 650 is a big car, but once you get mov­ing you for­get all about its size.

The eight- cylin­der, 4,4 litre 330 kW/ 650 Nm, twin- turbo petrol en­gine is a cross be­tween blunt grunt and day- to- day ef­fi­ciency. The adap­tive chas­sis set­tings make for light steer­ing and the but­tery- smooth eight- speed gear­box is im­pres­sive in terms of shift qual­ity and speed, while its breadth and abil­ity are re­ally sat­is­fy­ing.

Top speed is gov­erned to 250 km/ h and 0- 100 km/ h comes up in around 5,6 sec­onds.

Fuel con­sump­tion will be in the re­gion of 12,9 l per 100 km, but put your foot down, as you will be tempted to do in this pow­er­ful car and your fuel con­sump­tion will rise.

I drove the 650 in Dur­ban dur­ing rush hour and in the qui­eter cen­tre of Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and found that the car han­dles beau­ti­fully. Park as­sist sorts out your par­al­lel park­ing prob­lems and the GPS tells you where to go.

On bad roads in the Mid­lands the car is sta­ble be­cause of the ac­tive damp­ing and will re­ally move when prod­ded. On the open road it comes into its own and is the arch high speed cruiser.

Costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The 650i, auto con­vert­ible will cost you around R1,6 mil­lion new, but there are ways to lower that price, like one- or two- yearolds and demo mod­els.

The car comes with BMW’s iconic, ex­tend­able, fiveyear/ 100 000 km mo­tor­plan, which cov­ers ev­ery­thing but tyres and fuel. Also look at Mercedes Benz CLS, Porsche 911 Cabri­o­let, Maserati GT Grand Cabrio, and Jaguar XJ, amongst oth­ers.

PHOTO: BMW

The ‘ Ban­gle Butt’ has made way for a so­phis­ti­cated rear end and the rear tail light clus­ter is typ­i­cally BMW.

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