Test Drive: 2013 BMW 650i Coupe

2013 BMW 650i - front viewBy Barbara & Bill Schaffer

When it comes to classic coupe designs, the BMW 650i has to be one of the best, however Barbara still thinks the Mercedes-Benz SL is better.

At 193 inches long, the 2013 BMW 650i is also the largest of exotic coupes, which includes other like the Mercedes-Benz SL and Aston Martin Vantage.? The body styling of the 650i is muscular, but more with the sleek lines of a slim Olympic beach volleyball player than the bulky muscles of swimmers or bicyclists.

The car is pure BMW with the long hood, which stretches forward to the distinctive kidney-shaped grill, and light pods with their trademark light rings, which are now LED-powered.? The standard headlights are adaptive Xenon HIDs with optional LED headlights. ?In the rear, the short deck with concave rear panel covers a spacious 13.0 cubic foot cargo area.

2013 BMW 650i - side view??????????? The 2013 BMW 650i?interior is less dramatic looking but offers the driver and front seat passenger a comfortable and well-supported place to experience the ultimate driving machine. ?The two-tone interior has horizontally stacked controls below the massive 10.2-inch wide high definition central display screen.?? The screen functions are controlled by the iDrive knob, which is mounted on the passenger side of the console.? While the iDrive is getting a little easier for us to use and understand, it?s still too complex to learn to use comfortably in just a week.? A young friend, who grew up playing video games, thinks iDrive is easy, and he attributes it to the gaming experience, which we lack.

Another fascinating feature tied in through the screen and iDrive is the BMW ConnectedDrive.? The system includes an extensive menu of convenience, infotainment and safety features along with navigation and parking assistance.

The 2013 BMW 650i is also available with an optional Active Roll Stabilization and a new Integral Active Steering, which changes to improve high-speed stability or parking maneuverability as needed.

2013 BMW 650i - dashboardAlso mounted on the center console is the Dynamic Damper Control which actively manages the vehicle dynamics switching from a comfort setting to different levels of sportier handling.? In addition to changing suspension stiffness it adjusts the throttle response, power steering boost and automatic transmission shift characteristics.? If the car has the optional roll stabilization and active steering the system adjusts them too, plus it changes the level of stability intervention.

An optional ($3,700) Driver Assistance Package adds important safety features like lane departure warning, active blind spot detection, side and top view cameras, parking assistant and head-up display. ?Audiophiles will insist on the Bang & Olufsen sound system ($3,700).

The instrument panel has conventional analog instruments, with some interesting lighting enhancements to make the driver?s job easier.? The wide center console houses BMW?s simplified automatic shifter linkage, which we still find bit foreign or a six-speed manual stick.

2013 BMW 650i - interiorWhile the plethora of new hi-tech wizardry is appealing to some of us, the real purpose of a BMW is driving enjoyment and performance.? A 4.4-liter twin turbo V-8 engine producing 400-hp powers the 650i.? The engine?s unique ?reverse flow? design runs the exhaust toward the center of the engine to drive the twin turbochargers mounted in the V between the cylinder heads.? The result is instantaneous power with no discernible turbo lag.? The engine comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission or eight-speed Sport automatic transmission.? Unlike competitor coupes, the 650 is standard rear-wheel drive, but has BMW?s xDrive all-wheel drive as a $3,000 option.

BMW?s legendary performance is prevalent with 0 to 60 mph acceleration coming in just 4.8 seconds with either transmission, and a top speed limited to the customary 155 mph.? EPA fuel economy ratings are 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for the automatic with a one mpg penalty for the manual transmission highway numbers and three mpg less for the all-wheel drive model, which is rated at 15/20 mpg.

BMW Six Series shoppers wanting better fuel economy can opt for the 640i, which gets its go from BMWs twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder engine.? This 315 horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine gets an EPA rating of 21/31 mpg, while still delivering the same top speed and 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 5.4 seconds.

2013 BMW 650i - road shotThe cost of sophistication, great looks and performance is high, however, with the base price of the six-cylinder 640i coupe starting at $74,495, including the destination charge, and the 650i? at $83,895.? The xDrive all-wheel drive adds $3,000 and a convertible version is $7,500 more. ?Each of the available models has a long list of available options that can add significantly to the price.

The BMW 650i is not a car for the novice, nor is it a car for the meek.? The car is amazingly complex, with features that allow the driver to dial-in significant changes in its operating dynamics.? It also is a beautiful precision piece of machinery and technology that produces outstanding performance.

We are experienced with hundreds of different cars, but we found it complicated to operate.?? On the plus side, it?s also one of the most fun-to-drive, and cool-to-be-seen in cars on the road.

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