The Truth About Cars » 400HP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:00:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 400HP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2012 BMW 650i Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-bmw-650i-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-bmw-650i-coupe/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 16:25:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433461 In an unusual twist, BMW decided to release the redesigned 650i coupé after the drop-top version we snagged last November. The reason for the coupé’s late arrival is simple; BMW tells us it accounts for only about 30% of 6-series sales. Two-door luxury cars usually drive better than their chop-top sisters, but if you have […]

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In an unusual twist, BMW decided to release the redesigned 650i coupé after the drop-top version we snagged last November. The reason for the coupé’s late arrival is simple; BMW tells us it accounts for only about 30% of 6-series sales. Two-door luxury cars usually drive better than their chop-top sisters, but if you have the cash to burn and care about driving, should you still go topless?

Like it’s convertible twin, the 650i coupé has lost the “Bangle-butt” the previous generation wore , opting for clean, simple lines, a resurrection of chrome accents and more LEDs than the Home Depot lighting isle. While the convertible strikes it’s best poses topless (due to the awkward “buttressed” look caused by the vertical rear window) the coupé looks lean and mean from every angle. Like the 6-series convertible, the 650i coupé can be had with LED headlamps. While they are not notably “better” than HIDs, they sound much cooler when you tell your friends.

BMW may not have Jaguar’s way with style, but the 650′s cabin is exquisitely assembled. From the stitched leather dash (optional, but every 6-series on the lot at my local dealer was so equipped), to the perfect wood trim,  the attention to detail is second to none. Gone are the awkward oval shapes from the 2010 650i, and in their place is a tall dashboard dominated by the ginormous, high-resolution, 10.2-inch, widescreen iDrive display. Jumping up from the 640i to the 650i brings BMW’s 24-way front seats (20 of the ways are powered and the last four are manual headrest adjustments) instead of the plebeian 10-way variety. This upgrade also opens the door to ventilated anti-fatigue thrones which use air bladders to cut road-trip butt-fatigue. While they work as advertised, the feeling of having your backside slowly groped takes some getting used to. Should faux-suede and snazzier leather be your thing, BMW would be happy to slather the headliner in acres of Alcantara and broaden your hide palate with an additional 5 colors for the princely sum of $7,700.

iDrive has come a long way since it’s introduction, and while it can still be unintuitive and overly complicated at times, it is quite simply the ultimate in-car attraction for my inner nerd. Rather than taking Jaguar’s performance-minimalism attitude to technology, the 6-series can be had with everything from radar cruise control, lane departure warning, self-parking and pre-collision warning systems that are becoming commonplace to the truly unique full-color heads up display and FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) camera system with pedestrian detection. Unlike Volvo’s system that will stop the car to prevent an impact, the 650i will let you know pedestrians are in the roadway, but it’s up to you to act on the information. I’m still unsure whether I’d rather my car took action to prevent a collision without telling me beforehand, or if I’d like my car to tell me but not take any other action at all. Sound off in the comment section and let us know what you think.

Our 650 tester was equipped with the optional iPhone dock (available for the iPhone 4, 4S and select Blackberry devices) which charges the iPhone as well as allowing an all-new feature to be used: Apple’s “video out”. While this feature is in its infancy, it may allow greater functionality in the future and here’s why: the interface you see in iDrive while in this mode is actually generated by your iPhone, not the car. Sorry Droid fans, because just about every Droid phone is different BMW doesn’t make a dock for your smartphone right now. At the moment while the dock is nice it doesn’t allow the use of your iPhone’s case and instrument cluster display isn’t capable of displaying track and playlist information while in this mode. Checkout the video link below to see “video out”  in action.

Click here to view the embedded video.

At 400HP and 450 lb-ft, the 650i’s new 4.4L twin-turbo engine is up 40HP and 90 lb-ft compared to the outgoing 4.8L naturally aspirated engine from last year. Thanks to the hairdryers, torque gets to the boil by 1,750 RPM and stays on strong all the way to 4500 RPM, which is quite a departure from both the previous 650i and the Jaguar XK8 and their peaky power curves. The benefit of the broad powerband and all-new 8-speed ZF automatic is obvious when you take a look at the 0-60 time, which we clocked at 4.23 seconds. This is not only 0.46 seconds faster than the convertible 650i we tested (it had skinnier tires), but also notably faster than the lighter XK8 and about equal to the 510HP XKR (wheel spin is the XKR’s enemy). The new 6 is one seriously fast beast. The only downside to the turbo charged nature of the 650i seems to be the exhaust note, the 650i just doesn’t sound as nice as the Jag’s 5.0L V8. While the new Jaguar XKR-S and BMW M6 will duke out the high-end of the turbo vs supercharger war with their 550 and 560 horsepower engines, the real performance secret is the 650i AWD which ran to 60 in 4.22 seconds due to the enhanced grip, and will post similar numbers rain or shine with very little drama. The M6 on the other hand is likely to behave similarly to the XKR-S (a review of which will be posted in the coming weeks) with 3.8-3.9 second runs to 60 amid severe traction control intervention and only on perfect road surfaces.

The 650i is a heavy car at 4,233lbs and thanks to the electric power steering, it feels like it on the twisties. While not as numb as Mercedes’ CL550 4Matic, the XK8 is by far the driver’s car, due as much to its 500lb lower curb weight as its hydraulic power steering. Despite the lack of feel, the 650i handles very well and is extremely confident in the corners. Performance-enhancing options include a “rear tire bump” from the stock 245-width rubber to 275s, an upgrade worth getting if you’re buying the RWD 650i as the extra rubber helps apply the power. Regardless of the rear tire sizing, the fronts stay 245s and as a result the 650i can occasionally feels like it’s heading for the bushes when pushed hard. The 8-speed transmission is certainly geared more toward economy than sport and the feeling becomes obvious when you slip behind the wheel of an XK with ZF’s 6-speed. Even in sport mode where the 8-speed all but locks out gears 7 and 8, the older 6-speed is far more eager to do your bidding, and Jaguar tunes the ZF transmission for fast, crisp shifts.

Our 650i started with a “reasonable” $83,000 base MSRP (the XK8 starts at $84,500 and the CL at $114,100) to which was added the following: a no-charge “fine line oak” trim, $750 cold weather package (heated seats and steering wheel), $2,900 full-LED package with 20″ wheels, $3,700 “driver assistance” package (heads-up display, blind spot warning, all-around-view cameras, self parking, and lane departure warning), $5,500 Bang & Olufsen sound system (with iPod/USB adapter and satellite radio), $2,600 night vision, $1,750 four-wheel active steering and $1,500 for the leather dashboard. After options, our total out-the-door MSRP ballooned to an eye-popping $102,845. It’s good to be king. While it’s not possible to comparably equip an XK8 due to the lack of gadgetry, de-contenting the 650i reveals a pricing structure roughly in-line with the Jag, and considerably less than the Mercedes CL550 we looked at last September.

It seems that every review of the 6-series I have read bemoans the ever-increasing weight and dimensions of BMW’s premium two-door. This reviewer however sees absolutely no problem with the portly nature of the 6-series. The two-ton-plus curb weight and long wheelbase give the 6-series a compliant ride on even the most broken pavement and the active suspension does an admirable job of adjusting the damping enough for some tail-wagging fun if required. Most importantly however; with the twin-turbo fire-breather under the hood, this nearly 4,300lb whale can dance. For the past 20 years BMW has been gradually becoming the new Mercedes, a transition which I applaud. With enough gadgets to keep Bill Gates happy and an interior that is as perfect as anything this side of Aston Martin, the 650i may just be the ultimate luxury GT, except I would never buy it. Why? Because BMW makes an AWD drop-top 650i.

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 1.81 Seconds

0-60: 4.23 Seconds

0-100: 10.56 Seconds

1/4 mile: 12.7 Seconds @ 110.2MPH

2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, shifter, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, front, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, side, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, LED headlamps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, LED headlamps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, LED foglamps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, side, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, side, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Exterior, rear, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, gauges, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, gauges, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, safety systems, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, Bang & Olufsen speakers, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, intercooler, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, gauges, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, panoramic cameras, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, front cameras, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive apps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive apps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive apps, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, media dock, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, media dock, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, iDrive controller, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, center console, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, steering wheel controls, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Trunk, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Engine, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, Photography by Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW 650i coupe, Interior, Bang & Olufsen speakers, Photography by Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2012 Infiniti QX56 Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-infiniti-qx56-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-infiniti-qx56-take-two/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 21:58:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425908 If you thought high gas prices and a questionable economy meant the era of big SUVs was over, you’d be wrong; 2011 saw large SUV sales in the US grow 3.7% with a 7.4% growth in the luxury SUV segment. If you are one of those people with six-figure salaries and snow-filled school runs, the […]

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If you thought high gas prices and a questionable economy meant the era of big SUVs was over, you’d be wrong; 2011 saw large SUV sales in the US grow 3.7% with a 7.4% growth in the luxury SUV segment. If you are one of those people with six-figure salaries and snow-filled school runs, the Cadillac Escalade is probably on your short list. But what about the person who isn’t ready to look “gangsta” while dropping Jimmy Jr. off at softball practice? Infiniti might just have the answer: the all-new, all-enormous QX56. Michael Karesh snagged a QX56 from a dealer back in March 2011, and in December Infiniti tossed me the keys to a 7-seat QX to see what the behemoth is like to live with for a week.

The luxury SUV formula is simple (and almost universally applied); take a mass-market SUV, add bling, softer leather, and wood trim (real or fake, take your pick). The Cadillac Escalade is the best known example. The Caddy borrows so heavily from the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon that it’s hard to tell them apart unless you’re looking at them head-on.  Toyota/Lexus uses the same formula to make the LX570 out of the Toyota Land Cruiser.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, Nissan/Infiniti may have been listening. While Infiniti’s last generation QX was a tarted up Nissan Armada, this time around the QX is a re-badged Nissan Patrol. Same story different names you say? Not quite, the Patrol has never been sold in America, and in all likelihood never will be. You see, the Patrol is not some budget Nissan, it’s Nissan’s flagship SUV in markets where Infiniti doesn’t exist. This sounds strange to the average American buyer, however it is perfectly normal (in many markets) for a single brand to compete in the budget-compact market and the full-size luxury niche at the same time.

Outside, the QX looks big. Really big. Infiniti attempted to put the QX on a visual diet by adding the Infiniti signature grille and “bubbly” hood treatment. The nip/tuck works to some extent and made me believe the QX56 is smaller than the competition, until I parked between an Escalade and GL550. At over 208-inches long and 80-inches wide, the QX56 is 6-inches longer and more than an inch wider than the Escalade (if want an SUV that rivals river-barges, Cadillac’s Escalade ESV is 229-inchs long). The QX is so large that while on the freeway I came too close to a pair of Smart Fortwos and accidentally pulled them into orbit. While I find the quarter-panel “portholes” an awkward styling job, the rest of the slab-sided QX is more attractive in my mind than the sedate LX570, the angular GL or the Escalade.

The super-size theme continues inside with wide, flat-bottomed front seats, a large center console between the front and second row seats (in the 7-seat QX) and large expanses of real wood trim. Anyone who owns or has driven a late model year Infiniti will feel immediately at home inside the QX as Infinit’s interior design department still chants the “same sausage, different sizes” mantra, and I’m OK with that. Parts quality inside the QX is extremely high with all the major touch points lacking the plastic feel the Cadillac is burdened with. Still, budgets are a way of life and back in 2010 when I reviewed the redesigned M56, I loved the “knurled” rings around the speedo and tach, the QX borrows the style but not the 3-D plastic bits opting instead for a painted-on faux knurl. Other than the painted gauge bling, the QX’s cabin is  easily on par with Mercedes’ GL and Lexus’s LX.

Under the QX’s bulbous hood beats but one engine option: the lightly re-worked 5.6-liter direct-injection V8 VK56VD. While the V8 is shared with the M56 sedan, exhaust differences reduce the output by 20HP and 4lb-ft to 400HP at 5,850RPM and 413lb-ft at 4,000RPM. Despite the downgrade in twist, the new engine is more powerful than all of the competition except the Escalade’s 403-horsepower, 417lb-ft 6.2-liter pushrod V8. Despite being down on displacement versus the Caddy, Infiniti’s direct-injection and variable valve timing tech help the QX’s V8 not only deliver its peak torque earlier than the Caddy’s 6.2L V8, but it doesn’t run out of breath as easily either.

As a result of the advantageous torque curve, high horsepower and a well matched 7-speed transmission, the QX56 recorded a faster 0-60 time than the 2011 Infiniti G37 convertible we tested recently. The QX boasts an 8,500lb towing capacity (slightly higher than Escalde), and in a back-to-back test with a friend’s 2011 Caddy and the same trailer, the QX felt far more composed going up steep grades with a 5,000lb trailer. The fast acceleration times and improved towing feel are largely due to the 7-speed automatic which spent less time hunting than GM’s 6-speed. Overall, the QX transmission’s shifts are fast and crisp like other Infiniti products (with rev-matched down-shifts), however the unit is programmed to be up-shift happy for fuel economy reasons. Fear not piston heads; romping the go peal will still trump the EPA. All 400 ponies are routed to the tarmac via the rear wheels or an optional all-time four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case. Sadly the terrain selection dial (ala Land Rover) from the Nissan Patrol didn’t make it into the QX.

Out on the road, the QX’s 121-inch wheelbase (5-inches longer than Escalade), independent rear suspension and standard 60-series rubber help the QX deliver a fairly compliant ride. Upgrading to the 22-inch wheel package drops the aspect ratio on the tires to 50 but improves the look of the vehicle whiel taking a slight toll on harshness over rough pavement. If handling is a priority for you, look beyond the 22-inch low profile tires and shop the   300lb lighter Mercedes-Benz GL550 or a crossover. Compared to the LX570, the QX delivers better grip than the Lexus, but slots firmly between the base Escalade and the Escalade with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control. Does any of this matter? I say no. Let’s face it – as long as a large SUV handles as well as a 1980s minivan it has succeeded in my book.

While Green Peace will never give a thumbs-up to any full-size SUV, the 5,850lb QX56 manages to win the award for the most fuel efficient “full-size non-hybrid SUV,” delivering 14 city MPG and 20 highway MPG. (The Escalde and GL450 both scrape the bottom at 13 MPG city/18 MPG highway.) During our 640-mile week with the QX56, we averaged a respectable 15.2MPGs in mixed driving and a daily commute over a 2,200ft mountain pass and our best highway mileage of 22MPG was achieved during a 48-mile run on level highway.

 

Lately Infiniti has been taking nanny state to the next level with “prevention systems” rather than just “warning systems.” As much as I may dislike systems that take control at any time (as opposed to systems that take control when you are inattentive), when you are driving a living room sized vehicle aroundm it’s probably a good idea for the nannies to kick in early. Sure, the Lexus LX has a pre-collision system and the Mercedes GL can be had with lane departure warning, but the QX takes electronic prevention to a whole new level. “Lane Departure Prevention” not only tells you when you cross the line without signalling, it will actually use the brakes to “steer” you back in your lane. Similarly, “Blind Spot Avoidance” will act (more drastically) to keep you from side-swiping that motorcycle or Smart car in your blind spot. While the Lane Departure system’s intervention is a gentle tug, the Blind Spot system is more of a shove back in your lane. I can hear HAL now: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Most luxury brands offer radar cruise control as an option, but Infinit’s packs a socialist twist: an accelerator pedal that fights back. The radar cruise control with “Intelligent Brake Assist” will brake for you [even to a complete stop] in many situations. The easiest way to describe the behavior is this: you are following a car on a surface street, the car begins to slow for a red light, if the QX56 sees that you are closing on the car in front of you it will begin pushing the accelerator pedal up at you to indicate your need to act, if you lift off the accelerator and you are close enough to the car in front, the QX will automatically apply the brakes taking you all the way to a complete stop. Once stopped the car will hold the brakes for a few seconds, then beep indicating your need to touch the brake pedal and then release it’s death grip on your stoppers. I will leave the debate over this making QX drivers depend too much on technology to our readers.

The QX56 shares its 8-inch navigation/infotainment system with the rest of the Infiniti lineup and as such provides excellent Bluetooth and iPod/iPhone integration. While the software has not been significantly improved since the former QX, it is fairly competitive with the Lexus and Cadillac systems. With an intuitive interface that combines physical buttons on the dash and steering wheel as well as a touch screen, navigating through your music device or the nav system is easy and can be done primarily via the steering wheel. While the Infiniti system allows voice control of the navigation system and Bluetooth phone dialing, it unfortunately still lacks voice command of your Apple music device ala Ford’s SYNC or Kia’s UVO. The large screen is also used by Infiniti’s “Around Monitor” system which takes images from four different cameras around the car and digitally manipulates the image to give you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. While this feature is nifty in a mid-size luxury sedan, it’s a matter of wheel-life-or-death on large SUVs and thankfully it is standard on all QX models.

So how much does one of these babies set you back? Logically, full-size SUVs have full-size price tags and the QX56 is no exception. The 2012 Infiniti QX56 starts at $58,700 for the rear wheel drive QX and $61,800 for the four-wheel drive model. Aside from the all-wheel motivation, the $3,100 also buys the driver a windshield de-icer and a 260lb increase in curb weight. Strangely enough the 4WD system does not come standard with a reduction in fuel economy with 2WD and 4WD models scoring the same in the EPA tests (your mileage may vary of course). Our tester was a fully-loaded AWD model retailing for $75,140. Our options list included: the $2,950 “Theater Package” with dual 7-inch headrest monitors for the second row, wireless headphones, second row power-folding heated seats and a built-in 120V AC inverter; the $4,100 “Deluxe Touring Package” with heated and cooled front seats, semi-aniline leather, dynamic body roll control, climate control with air quality management, a Plasmacluster air purifier and burl wood trim; and the $3,000 “Technology Package” which includes all the safety nannies we covered earlier. While $75K sounds steep, the QX56 is actually a “bargain” in the luxo-hauler class. Similarly equipped, the Mercedes GL550 will set you back $89,818, the Cadillac Escalade Platinum  $82,035 and the Lexus X570 will ding you $89,356. It should be noted that despite the Cadillac of price tags, the Escalade lacks many of the advanced active safety features of the QX.

As much as I might like to think of myself as a mild-greenie, I have always had a strangely large place in my heart for large vehicles. You know you like ‘em big too. However politically incorrect it may be to drive a large SUV, and keeping the fact that few people really “need” a full-size SUV, the QX56 is a solid entry in this niche and 2011 sales bear this out with the QX outselling the Lexus LX570 fourfold. Indeed the QX outsells all but the Escalade, and for good reason, with a fresh new look, upscale interior and more electronic doodads than the competition for a lower price point, the QX56 should be at the top of your super-sized list.

 

Statistics
0-30: 2.161 seconds
0-60: 5.61 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.27 seconds @ 97 MPH

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front 3/4, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Front 3/4, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Rear, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes I2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Rear Side 3/4, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Side, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Engine, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Engine, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior Grille, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Headlamps, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Portholes, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Infotainment / Nagivation Screen, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Gauges, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Gauges, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Audio Controls, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Cargo Area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Cargo Area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX Cargo Area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX 56 Exterior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side.Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Exterior, Side. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Wheels, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior. Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard 2, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Dashboard 1, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Second Row, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Middle Row, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Third Row, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating - View from cargo area, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating 2, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Seating, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Front Door, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior Center Stack, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior AWD Mode Selector, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior AWD Mode Selector, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Interior, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Instrument Cluster (gauges), Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Instrument Cluster (gauges), Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 Instrument Cluster (gauges), Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Infiniti QX56 All-Around-View, Photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes infiniti_qx56_thumb

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Review: 2012 BMW 650i Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-650i-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-bmw-650i-convertible/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 21:10:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417454 Full-size high-end luxury convertibles that don’t have budget origins are not as common as you might think (or like). E-Class Cabrio? Too cheap. A5 Cabrio? Same problem. So if you’ve $90,000+ burning a hole in your pocket for a topless two-door what should you get?  Obviously Astons and Bentleys are out of your price range in this down […]

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Full-size high-end luxury convertibles that don’t have budget origins are not as common as you might think (or like). E-Class Cabrio? Too cheap. A5 Cabrio? Same problem. So if you’ve $90,000+ burning a hole in your pocket for a topless two-door what should you get?  Obviously Astons and Bentleys are out of your price range in this down economy (we all must economize after all), and you have trouble justifying the stretch to the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible’s $132,000 base price, that leaves BMW and Jaguar to battle in this broom-closet sized market. Whatever is the almost-wealthy shopper to do? Let’s find out

On the outside, the old 6-series wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but the new model seems to be a universally good looking car according to my usual band of “Joe six-packs”. Up front the 6 wears BMW’s new corporate pedestrian friendly schnoz easily identified by the dual large grills, and overall high and flat leading surface. Continuing along the side we find sharper lines and new sheet metal give the new 6 a lower, wider look (without actually being much lower than the outgoing model) that is accentuated when the convertible top is lowered. Speaking of that top, the 6-series continues to sport a folding canvas top instead of the trendy folding hard tops. Supposedly the decision was several fold: the canvas top is lighter, changes the weight balance of the car less when it is down, it’s faster to lower/raise and can be done at speeds up to 25MPH (and of course, it’s cheaper). Of course, Jag’s XK convertible looks like sex, so on the looks front despite the BMW being very attractive; my vote is for the XK.

BMW has taken great strides with the new 6-series interior in both style and finish. The cockpit is far more “driver oriented” than the previous generation convertible and the parts all scream high-rent. The new large, high-resolution iDrive screen is the dominant feature on the dash, perched high and just about in your line of sight (in a good way). While other iDrive displays have been positioned in dedicated binacle or well-integrated into the dash, the 6’s iDrive gives the appearance of a pop-up screen without the pop. The look is well executed and makes the dash seem less “bulky” than other BMW products. This reduced bulk is needed as the high belt line and overall large proportions conspire to make average sized men feel small behind the wheel. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually like feeling small. The $1,500 optional stitched dashboard (as our tester was equipped) visually puts the 650i’s interior in the same class as the Jaguar XKR and Aston Martin’s “budget” coupés.

Luxury cars are all about the gizmos, the 6-series continues to wear it’s crown as the reigning gadget king. The aforementioned wide-screen 10.2 inch iDrive display is as close to perfection as I have seen. People complain about iDrive being hard to use, but I find it fairly intuitive. If you are a person familiar with technology at all, you will acclimate to iDrive quickly. If however you’re trading in your old 1970s S-class convertible as part of your new life in a Floridian retirement home, you might want to bring a 14-year old with you when you need to change the AM radio station. For the rest of us, iDrive is far more elegant in look and function than Mercedes COMMAND, more feature rich than Infiniti’s setup, a decade more modern than Lexus’s nav software, more reliable than SYNC, and easier to use than Audi’s MMI. Aston Martin? They’re still stuck in the last century. Jaguar’s system is more agreeable to my tastes than COMMAND, but still a step behind Audi’s MMI and iDrive until Jaguar decides to put the XJ’s new touch screen in the smaller kitty.

New on the scene for iDrive is the new iPhone/smartphone app. I’m not entirely sure why you would need to tweet or Facebook post while you are driving, but iDrive does make it easy to accomplish both, while blasting down the freeway topless. The system will not only read your posts to you, but it will even pull information from iDrive’s phone history, navigation system and even the car’s thermometer to generate slightly personalized canned posts like “It is 65 degrees and I am driving my BMW” or “Headed to 123 Main Street” or “Spoke with Jane Doe on the phone”. While Facebook is a novelty, the web radio app is the feature that makes the $250 option worth considering. The radio app allows you to select from RadioTime.com’s list of streaming internet radio stations (Pandora lovers look elsewhere). The radio streaming worked surprisingly well even over the maligned AT&T network on my iPhone 4. The only complaint I have about the way BMW’s app works is that [on the iPhone at least] the app must be loaded and the active app in order for the car to sync, so while you can Facebook post while driving, you have to leave the app to read your text messages or control anything on the phone. For that last mile, BMW’s app allows you to continue navigating to your destination if you’ve had to park several blocks away and you can glance at your last known fuel level and distance to empty numbers.

Other than the overtly “techy” gadgets, the list of safety features and optional gadgets on the 6 is extensive. The pricey option list includes goodies like a $2,600 night vision system, $3,700 “Drive Assistance Package” which gives you a plethora of cameras, a new full-color heads up display, lane departure warning and the very trendy self-parallel-parking feature, a $1,500 seat enhancement package that gives you active seats and seat ventilation, $650 to replace the plastic knobs with ceramic, and a whopping $3,700 for the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Strangely enough BMW has not decided to create a side impact airbag system ala Volvo’s C70, a shame when the rich seem usually prepared to spend big on features to save their backside (or brain in this case).

At 400HP and 450 lb-ft, the 650i’s new 4.4L twin-turbo engine is up 40HP and 90 lb-ft compared to the outgoing 4.8L naturally aspirated engine from last year. While there is a hair of turbo lag, thanks to the twin hairdryers torque gets to the boil by 1,750 RPM and stays on strong all the way to 4500 RPM where it tapers off gradually. The new engine sends power to the rear (or all four wheels with the optional AWD) via a new 8-Speed ZF transmission. The combination of the turbos, increased oomph, and extra cogs results in the 0-60 time dropping from a quoted 5.4 to a quoted 4.9 putting the 650i in the same class as a few BMW M products I could mention and 0.4 seconds faster than the 385HP Jaguar XK’s quoted time. Of course with BMW quoted times aren’t worth much and the 650i is no different clocking in a cool 4.69 second 0-60 sprint time after time. Despite a not-insignificant weight gain due to the loss of the aluminum front end the 2011 sported, the new 6 is one seriously fast beast. The only downside to the turbo charged nature of the 650i seems to be the exhaust note, the 650i just doesn’t sound as nice as the Jaguar XK or XKR’s  5.0L V8 and this is likely due to the turbos in the exhaust stream. While the 4.4L turbo is powerful, the 650i seems to lack the urgency of some new Mercedes products with their new twin-turbo V8. Fear not speed lovers, an M6 is on the way which will surely put those fears to rest.

Out on the road the 650i convertible is a heavy car and it shows, not in the handling but the feel. The 650 just doesn’t feel as connected to the road as the Jaguar XK, likely due as much to the electric power steering as the 4,531lb curb weight. While come may complain about this, I can’t say I expect my over-two-ton convertible to be a corner carver, the 6-series is very much a GT and in this role it shines. The optional sport package (as our tester was equipped) includes active suspension, active anti-roll bars, and some seriously wide 275-width rubber out back (the fronts remain 245s). Still despite the added tech, the XKR is still the better driver’s car. The Jag is (and feels) considerably lighter on the road, the 6-speed ZF transmission is far more eager to do your bidding and the steering is far more connected and direct, not to mention the XKR’s 5.0L V8 plays one of the most amazing sound tracks available on our shores. Our readers know I’m an AWD fan and even if the 650i wasn’t loaded with all my favorite gadgets, I’d buy it over an XKR for the AWD’s year round drivability.

When it comes time to buy your fourth car (BMW tells us most 6 series buyers have at least 3-4 cars in their stable), what should you buy? This depends on what you’re after. If you care about modern gadgets and technology in your topless GT, the 650i is the hands-down winner. The 650i also slots neatly between the slightly slower Jaguar XK and the considerably faster XJR in terms of performance and price (depending on options). If however you’re after the a more engaging drive, better exhaust note and exquisite exterior style, the Jaguar XKR is the ride for you, it just won’t tweet your friends about it.

 

BMW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Statistics as tested

0-30: 1.72 Seconds

0-60: 4.69 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13 Seconds @ 109.8 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 17.2 MPG over 383 miles

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