By on March 8, 2012

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.

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

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25 Comments on “Review: 2012 BMW 650i Coupe...”

  • avatar

    I can see myself in this car. When the current BMW bites the dust, I’ll probably order up one of these.


  • avatar

    I found myself very frustrated that an overview picture of the interior from the backseat (or side view taken while outside the car) was missing….

    Oh well. Off to Google…

    Nice review though. I’ve had a soft spot for the 6-series ever since it was re-launched here in the states. It isn’t beautiful, but wow does it look mean in black with some nice wheels. It was only the off-angle view of the rear quarter panel that made me recoil when I first saw it. It grew on me in some colors though.

  • avatar

    So when do we get to hear about the new 8? I saw one parked on the street the other day in DC with new car MD tags. It took me a while to figure out what it really was, even though it had the model number right there. It was gorgeous, and a true sucessor to the old 8’s (design-wise). Much better (slimmer) looking than the 6er.

    Edit: Now I am uncertain that that was not this. I thought I really looked, but since I did not take any pictures…. I suppose I may have thought the 6 looked like an 8 since the car did not look like a 6. Whatever it was, it looked really really good in person.

    And yes, I deeply regret not taking some pictures and hanging around to talk to the driver, but hey, I was at work. After I went back inside and saw that there was no coverage about it anywhere I realized my mistake.

  • avatar

    A more interesting question would be how this car stacks up to the CLS550. Similar pricing as opposed to the much more expensive CL, better looks, WAY more practical, comparable interior and available gadgets, and I suspect the CLS may be more fun to drive.

  • avatar

    Very nice looking car, but can you imagine the out-of-warranty maintanance costs on these rolling Consumer Electronics Shows?

    “Every new BMW is covered by a limited warranty for defects in materials or workmanship for the first four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.”

  • avatar

    Nice video Alex! I know they take a ton of work to put together, but I’d love to see more TTAC reviews like this.

  • avatar

    the 650i coupé has lost the “Bangle-butt” the previous generation wore

    Are you sure?

  • avatar

    $100k…That’s a lotta coin. Meanwhile, BMW’s profits up 50% and I’m sure this cash cow is helping.

  • avatar

    The problem with this car is that it doesn’t look like a 100k car yet many of them are going for that much. It looks far better on the road than in pictures I have to say…but not 100k good.

    Also, what’s with the endless Jaguar references?

  • avatar
    cRaCk hEaD aLLeY

    That’s one ugly engine. Bangle DID switch department…

    Is there an engine cover?

    Year: 2017
    Location: Tony Montana BMW & BYD of Orange Co:

    – Ok, let’s see here: oil and filter change and replacement of the exhaust timing cam sensor on the left cylinder bank. That will $8,765 sir. $380 for the oil and filter, $249,99 for the sensor. Ahw. These tend to go bad, yeah, must be all thar power no? Yes, Oh, and $8,135.01 for the sixteen hours of labor. This service includes a courtesy car wash at no charge to you, sir.
    By the way, how did you like our new BYD ExecutiveFury MK XXL courtesy car sir?

  • avatar

    FLIR – good for locating the ideling cop car in the bushes at night?

  • avatar

    For less than half the coin (43K), I can get a Mercedes pillarless coupe that is actually practical…

    Of course, when I almost fainted at paying over 20K for the first and so far only time for our CR-V, that ain’t gonna happen!

    I’m sure the Bimmer in question would be a blast to drive for a week, though.

  • avatar

    “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.”

    Since other cars have opted to stop the car completely to avoid a collision, choosing to not implement it as BMW has makes me think it’s going to lead to lawsuits in the future from the nanny-state crowd.

    Personally, I’d rather it be left up to the driver in case it ever gives a false alarm. Can you imagine your car stopping suddenly on the interstate for no good reason?

  • avatar

    “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.”

    Of course the car should take no action. How else is the scorned wife going to run over her cheating orthodontist spouse with this car?

  • avatar

    “Lean and mean”? Please, this car is 100% Accord coupe from certain angles.

    • 0 avatar

      So “lean” that I’d expect the owner to come out one morning to find it with a toilette embedded in its ass. Would that be warranty?

    • 0 avatar

      Dude… I hate to be the guy that sees the new ____ and sneeringly says “Bah, it looks like a Camry/Accord.”

      The Accord is a nice enough looking car, and only becomes a target as an example of the mundane because there are approximately 7 bazillion of them.

      That said, this looks very much like a conservative Japanese coupe from the rear… Especially next to the very sharp lookiing rear on the 1 series. If you told me that Toyota was bringing back the Camry Solara, and this was the pic that accompanied it, I’d believe it. It could be anything.

  • avatar

    misusing “it’s” instead of “its”, twice, basically forced me to stop reading.

    nice pics though. i am sure it’s a nice car.

  • avatar

    The “its” v. “it’s” is a problem with other writers on this site too.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I have a feeling I need to go with my instinct here instead of allowing the WordPress grammar corrector suggest replacements. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • avatar

    Wow, nice pictures, what camera are you using?

    Still think the car is ugly, think I’d go for a Panamera over that, if I was in the market for a similar car. Its less ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I use a Canon T2i, the camera body is honestly fairly unimportant, it is the lenses and lighting that make the difference. I use an EF-S 10-22 rectilinear lens, EF-S 17-55 f2.8, and occasionally an EF 70-300 DO lens.

  • avatar

    The Audi S5 would provide an interesting comparison-test option for this car.

  • avatar

    Alex, what kind of suspension is the “active suspension” system using?

    I imagine it’s not magnetic?

    Are any cars in this price range using electromagnetic / magnetic suspension similar to the Bose concept from a few years ago? Are any production cars for that matter?

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