I’D WALK 35 MILES FOR ONE OF THESE
2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Jul 14, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story and pictures by John Grafman Sure, this is a serious operation, but our publisher still has a special sense of humor. He jokingly inquires if I’d like to walk down and pick up the BMW 650i Gran Coupe from the storage facility? I’m considering it for a few moments. The 35 mile trek will take a couple days, and I might have to cross through some unsavory lands, but this is the 650i Gran Coupe after all. Fortunately, common sense prevails. A driver brings the car here, and the only exercising my feet will see for a few days is playing with the pedals in the sinfully good Bimmer. A quick glance at this car and it’s all over. The BMW 650i Gran Coupe can steal your heart in a second. This vehicle is very graceful, and like a supermodel, it doesn’t have a bad angle on its fluid body. The panels are so tempting that it’s hard not to run your hands across the surfaces. The BMW 650i Gran Coupe is a pleasure for all the senses.
The inside is no different. The door and dash surfaces have an energetic, sculptured feel. The seats are as pleasing to the touch as they are to the eye. Even the headliner is primo. The low roofline in this coupe-styled sedan can be encroaching. However, the optional anthracite colored Alcantera headliner covering the huge expanse with a matt finish of faux suede creates a small illusion of greater depth. No slight-of-hand is required to accommodate four real size people with complete comfort, along with enough cargo room in the fully lined trunk to encourage road trips. Commuters that are accustom to first-class travel will appreciate the roominess and attention to detail. The rest of the interior is no less luxury oriented. As an example, this comes with standard 20-way, power front, multi-contour seats complete with four-way lumbar support, and an articulated upper backrest. The electrically adjustable bolster on the front of the seat bottom is a nice touch, however it doesn’t retract far enough for the vertically challenged. The inner cocoon of the BMW is wrapped head-to-toe in Nappa leather on doors, center console and seats. Gray Poplar wood provides a stately accent.
What BMW does best is connecting the driver to the car, and the driving experience. The shifter is a perfect example of how the German’s take a different and clever approach. Instead of physically moving the entire shift lever fore or aft in the center console, one only need to tip it forward to bring it into gear for drive, or tip it rearward for reverse. In order to prevent accidental bumping into or out of gear, this has a lockout that must be depressed on the side of the shifter knob, and a button that must be depressed to engage park. It only takes a brief period of time before the question arises, why don’t all cars work as beautifully as this BMW? Another tech feature is the heads-up display. Sure, this isn’t the first car to have this, yet distinctive touches like the color projection are pretty trick. Even better, while displaying the current driving speed, this also projects the posted speed limit. This is perfect for calibrating your right foot with what’s legally recommended. Of course, this does limit one’s defense in court, as pleading ignorance due to lack of posted signage is now a thing of the past. Damn, these Bavarians! Whose side are they on, anyway? Other nifty tools are the Driving Dynamics Control (DDC), which allows the driver to adjust the car to the type of driving desired, from economy and comfort to sport. This provides energy recapture, engine cut-off at stand still (an override switch next to the ignition button is available to disarm this sometimes unwanted intrusion), and suspension stiffening. As schizoid as I am, the DDC adjustments get played with frequently, even within short commutes. The adjustment switch on the center console isn’t difficult to use, but this could be improved so there’s less fumbling in locating it without glancing downward.
The xDrive master controller unit is much improved over past versions from days gone bye. The screens and operation are fairly intuitive, but similar to the DDCadjustment-setting switch, this has a few buttons that require looking at. These reside around the DDC control knob on the center console that can be tricky to activate correctly until the pattern is memorized in the grey matter between the driver’s ears. Now, as well-crafted as these shifters, knobs, switches and buttons are (albeit there’s a learning curve involved), it’s still about the drive. For the record, BMW does have that wired like few carmakers on earth. The ultra butter smooth eight-speed transmission provides a Rolls-Royce-like means of getting around town (perhaps it’s no surprise the fabled R-R brand is a BMW holding). In the comfort setting, the suspension does an admirable job of absorbing many of the road irritants. Okay, this is a BMW and not boulevard cruiser, and therefore it is still on the stiffer side. When pushed the 650i is able to run with the big dogs. Who’s kidding who? This BMW 650i will outrun the big dogs, and anyone else thinking of giving chase. As long as you don’t mind recurring trips to your friendly local gas station, jabbing the throttle will put smile on the driver’s face quicker than Lindsay Lohan (allegedly) says yes to illicit substances. Similarly, this can raise the heartbeat like a shot of adrenaline, or whatever suits the occasion. With 445 horsepower coming from 4.4-liter, twin turbo eight-cylinder, the 650i has no problems when it comes to living up to BMW’s legendary performance. Actually, this might exceed some of the stories you’ve heard in the past. This year’s power is 45 ponies above the outgoing power plant of the same size.
The eight-speed automatic transmission does allow for a relaxing drive, but when called upon for a more spirited manner of getting from point A to B, this has the right stuff. The engine-transmission combo can embarrass most other cars with a 0-60 of about 4.5 seconds, and a top speed of 155 (electronically limited). The transmission feels sophisticated, delivering fun, comfort, economy, and power in abundance. Controlling the handling comes via a speed-sensitive variable-assist (Servotronic), variable-ratio power steering, a twin-tube gas-pressure shock absorbers, Dynamic Damping Control, and M sport suspension. In other words, badass! Additional management of the handling and braking forces come from the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, and Brake Stand-by features; with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC).
The creature comforts range from the now typical electric sunshades, to the optional, kick-ass Bang & Olufsen surround sound audio system. As one would imagine, the BMW offers all the must-haves, including an Dynamic Cruise Control, on-board navigation system with traffic alerts, voice command, Bluetooth, Sirius XM satellite radio, Xenon Adaptive Headlights with dynamic auto-leveling and Corona headlight-rings (full LED lighting optional), and rain sensing windshield wipers. The quality of the fit and finish are as upscale as one would hope for. There are more optional packages than one can shake a stick at. One of the more in-demand options is the Driver Assistance Package, a $3,800 upgrade, includes the Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, side and top view cameras, Parking Assist, and Head Up Display. With muscle and style the 650i Gran Coupe this seems right at home in any of the tonier locales. In Calabasas and Malibu, the 650i blends in with the landscape, yet it’s still is distinctive enough so that it doesn’t become invisible. This BMW looks right at home at a brief meeting at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. Indeed, this five-star ride is on par with five-star experiences. Driving at little over an idle through the quiet, seaside neighborhood of the Malibu Colony on a summer day, with the sunroof open, is a perfectly tranquil journey. With countless multi-million dollar homes slowly passing by, I have to wonder how many have one of these Grand Coupes in their garages? If they don’t, perhaps they should. The Bavarian is modern, sexy, and is classy in a way that you would find in the now almost all too common Bentley Continental is in these communities. But, it isn’t as over the top. Okay, I’ll say it: The BMW is just less snooty. Maybe this is the secret sauce in this car’s DNA. It’s a bad boy, but cleans up for any special occasion. BMW has been working on this blend for decades. And, while many of the OEMs would like to take a bite out of the BMW, this car might just be eating their lunch if they aren’t careful. SUMMARY JUDGMENT The BMW 650i Gran Sport doesn’t just live up to expectations, it exceeds them. For more information about BMW products, go to bmwusa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: BMW 650i Gran Sport Price: $86,500, base $111,995, as tested Engine type: V8, Direct Injection 2, twin turbo reverse flow "hot V" twin turbo reverse flow "hot V", VALVETRONIC variable valve timing EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 17 / 25 miles per gallon Horsepower: 445 @ 5,500-6,400 rpm Torque: 480 pound-feet @ 2,000-4,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / rear-wheel drive Transmission type: 8-speed automatic, 8HP70, manually shifting via paddles Suspension: Front: double wishbone suspension, electronically controlled shock absorbers Rear: multi-link suspension, electronically controlled shock absorbers Dynamic Damper Control, optional Active Roll Stabilization with hydraulic rotary actuators in the front and rear anti-roll bars Brakes: Front: Vented 13.7” Rear: Vented 13.6” Lightweight floating-caliper brakes feature vented discs and Dynamic Stability Control. DSC includes Anti-lock Braking System, Dynamic Traction Control, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, the Start-off Assistant, the automatic Brake Drying function and Brake Fade Compensation. Wheels and tires: Front: Alum 8.5J x 20 Light alloy, 245/35 R20 Y RSC (Sport Package) Rear: 9.0J x 20 Light alloy, 275/30 R20 Y RSC (Sport Package) Dimensions Overall length: 197.2” Overall width: 74.6” Overall height: 54.8 Curb weight (lbs.): 4,430 0-60mph = 4.5 sec w/Sport Package Top Speed = 155mph (electronically limited)