2017 BMW 6 Series
Review of: 2017 BMW 6 Series 2dr Cabriolet 650i xDrive AWD
2017 BMW 650i Cabriolet: Luxury for all seasons
By David Miller
Jan. 6, 2017
Luxury buyers are all over the map. Some stay loyal to a brand, but others can be fickle. For both types of consumers or collectors, automakers attempt to spice things up by offering plenty of choices that include vehicle variants. If you scroll through the list of offerings between Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche, you are sure to find something you fancy.
The choices may be there, but luxury automakers don’t make it easy for the common consumer to understand what everything is. BMW doesn’t fall under that heading; on the contrary, the German brand does a very nice job in making sense of its roster. That is mainly due to its newish naming structure that designates the coupes and cabriolets as even numbers, while the main vehicles ranges retain their odd-number categorization.
Recently, I took out one of those ‘even’ vehicles: The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet. The two-door, four-passenger convertible checks all the boxes of a fun whip that shows off some performance chops coupled with driver comfort and sophisticated styling. The icing on the cake for the luxury buyer, and not so much the automaker, is that the 650i Cabriolet is rare in numbers.
Pros & Cons
- + Interior ambiance
- + Acceleration
- + Serene top-down experience
- - Rear seat space
- - Fuel economy
- - Price of options
The 6 Series may share its foundation with the 5 Series, but the curves and athletic stance on this 650i cabriolet would say otherwise. On top of that, it’s made longer and wider and has that aforementioned soft drop-top that can be easily triggered withone touch of a button.
The 650i presents a muscular, low-to-the-ground look and BMW has done everything to enhance that with a recent minor refresh. A new kidney grille is the most noticeable change, with a reduction in vertical bars that creates a cleaner and more elegant appearance. Adaptive LED headlights now come standard and complement the new grille with a classic, swept-back design that’s not too bold in nature as those on some competitors. There something to be said for BMW maintaining a level of sophistication and refinement.
This tester sat on optional 20-inch alloy wheels – part of the M Sport Edition for an additional $8,400 – that accentuated its cool looks, which are capped off with wide dual tailpipes in a relatively drama-free rear end design.
With the M Sport Edition came a breathtaking interior that featured Opal White Full Merino leather seats for a whopping $5,900 more. These seats weren’t only beautiful, but comfortable and ventilated; they set the tone for a refined environment that matches a price over $100K. Once again, less-is-more wins out.
The front row offers up plenty of room on the top and bottom to enjoy the ride. The back seats are where that changes. It’s nice to see that there’s room for occupants — especially headroom when the top is down — but you must keep in mind that those seats are more suitable for children or groceries.
Cargo capacity is on the small scale with a little more width than height. Two carry-ons can fit, but not much else with 348 litres with the top up and a mere 300 with the top down.
Overall, the interior is a great package, but the thickness of the ‘M’ steering wheel proved a constant irritation throughout the week. It has nothing to do with looks that are top-of-the-line with soft leather or the functionality of its tilt and telescoping functions. The problem comes down to the wheel becoming a burden on the meaty part of the hand at the base of the thumb. I understand that this may come across as a finicky observation, but over time the simplest annoyances with a vehicle tend to stand out.
For 2017, the 6 Series receives an updated and easy-to-use iDrive infotainment system which has the standard heads-up display on the dash that’s accessed through the console pad to the right of the gear shift. Other additions include wireless phone charging with extended Bluetooth and a WiFi hotspot.
The only reason to choose the Cabriolet over the other 6 Series variants — the Coupé and Gran Coupé — comes down to the soft top. For those spring, summer and fall months, the convertible transforms for additional pleasure and the release of stress. It may take close to twenty seconds to come down, but think how long it used to take with a manual set-up; and now this act can be done while driving at speeds lower than 40 km/h.
A nice added feature to the convertible experience is a glass rear window that acts as a wind blocker popping up from the trunk when the roof is down. For those chilly days, this added perk allows you to go topless more often throughout the year, elevating this convertible immediately to the top tier.
The 6 Series provides two twin-turbo powertrain options for each configuration in an all-wheel drive package: a 315-hp inline-six, or the more unreserved 445 hp V8 with 480 lb.-ft. of torque. If there’s a need for additional power, one can always opt for the M6.
My tester had the more powerful V8 engine that can kick it into high gear when desired to the tune of 4.3 seconds in a 0-100 km/h sprint using launch control, and that’s with the extra poundage that comes with all-wheel-drive. A lot of the excitement is driven by its high torque figure, energy easily transformed by the eight-speed automatic transmission into a fast pace. For the driver’s convenience, there are paddle shifters or a manual mode on the gear shift to work the gears yourself.
Furthermore, BMW offers up more personal control over the suspension and transmission with a driving experience control switch that can adjust through several drive modes: eco pro, comfort, sport and sport-plus. For a more exhilarating ride, sport mode would suffice; but if exhaust blips and a fiery engine is on the daily menu, sport-plus will provide that fix.
Performance is always fun, but it should be noted that the 650i isn’t all about launching. In comfort and even sport modes, the 6 Series can be a smooth and quiet ride thanks to gradual acceleration and flawless braking. With the low ride height, bumps will be felt more than other vehicles, but the safety of direct handling and steering precision will assist along the way.
During the winter, I was unable to push it at high speeds and so couldn’t gauge exactly how precise the 650i’s handling is. What I did discover on snowy and slow roads was average fuel consumption of 13.8 L/100 km, which doesn’t bode well for the pocket with gas prices on the rise.
Why waste time to talk about value? The BMW 650i Cabriolet and its competitors, ranging from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class Cabriolets, the Jaguar F-Type, and the Porsche 911 Carrera, are all about luxury, and have nothing to do with value.
Choosing the BMW 650i and its V8 engine, at a starting price of $111,500, is all about preference. It may lack the same panache as the vehicles listed above, but it makes up for it with a more pleasing and less-windy ride with the top down.
It would always be nice if no add-ons were needed and everything was included in the base price. Unfortunately, the auto world doesn’t work that way, especially in the luxury divisions. Therefore, the $8,400 most likely should be spent on the M Sport Edition package, which includes 20-inch wheels, soft-close doors, M-Sport Package ventilated seats, safety technologies, Harman/Kardon Sound system and a leather instrument panel, to name a few items.
Two parts of the M Sport Edition irk me: the rear view camera and head-up display, which should come standard; it’s simply a joke that those are a part of an additional package.
The 2017 BMW 650i Cabriolet has it all for that luxury buyer looking for something special. Sure, there are other options out there, but everyone has their own taste and this convertible possesses elegant design, comfort, and power that can be displayed in either an aggressive or humble manner.
The drive modes can be tinkered with depending on your mood. If you’re in a cruising or speed-hungry state, the 650i can transform to whatever you want it to be. A distinguishing feature is the lack of noise when the top is down, and that was the most impressive part, even on a chilly winter day.