BMW is nothing if not ambitious, and this year is aiming for record global sales — rolling out the products it thinks can get it there, including the 2012 BMW 650i Cabriolet.
We got the chance to take the convertible for a drive around balmy Cape Town, South Africa, sharing some seat time with senior officials including BMW board member Klaus Draeger, who is confident the market for premium convertibles will remain stable, as it has been since the boom year of the last decade.
Perhaps that explains why BMW reversed the normal cadence of its product program, first rolling out the cabrio version of the new 6-Series, which will hit U.S. showrooms in May. The 2-door will follow later this year, and a distinctive 4-door coupe will only be ready in 2012.
The new 6-er Convertible grew by 3 inches in length and 2 inches in width, though its roof is 0.31 inches lower compared to the outgoing model. This was possible, since the height of the dashboard could be lowered because of the use – for the first time – of a free standing 70-inch navi display.
The larger size is especially beneficial to the passengers in the two rear bucket seats. They have ample head room, and somewhat more leg room than in the current 6-Series convertible. An “ample-sized” colleague travelled in the back while we drove around the southern tip of Africa, arriving back at the hotel looking happy – and fit.
There were those hoping to see BMW migrate to the same sort of metal top as the 3-Series Cabrio has adopted. Instead, the 6-er retains a classic textile roof that is of a fin-design, extending out to the rear deck with fluent lines.
Power-operated, closing and opening takes 24 and 19 seconds, respectively, and can be done while driving at speeds of up to 25 mph.
It speaks for itself that a premium car, such as the 6-Series, has a full complement ofstandard equipment and safety features. Our 650i was equipped with options such as Integral Active Steering, incorporating AdaptiveDrive with Electronic Powersteering.
With AdaptiveDrive, the car reacts in an eye blink to steering input at lower speed using steerable rear wheels. And it’s something you will easily get used to when driving it for a couple of days. It also results in a by 1.6-inch reduced turning radius.
At low speeds, the rear wheels turn opposite those up front. Above 37 mph, the rear wheels follow the front ones, providing absolutely precise reactions and excellent stability during lance changes and cornering.
With the optional AdaptiveDrive, the 650i is firm but comfortable in the Comfort mode and not too stiff in Sport, a nice balance for people who prefer to cruise in a premium convertible and still have the possibility to enjoy fantastic driving dynamics when stepping on the throttle.
Of course, one of the joys of the new 650i is pulling the top down and letting yourself experience the deep grumble of the willing V-8 power plant.
The 6-Series Convertible will be available from its market launch in two models, the 640i, with a 320 hp 3.0-liter inline-6 engine and the 650i with the 4.4-liter V8. Both feature TwinPower Turbo technology and direct injection and both are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that can also be shifted by the paddles on the steering wheel.
The new model’s interior is well executed and its exterior is stylish and sophisticated It will be available from May, just in time to enjoy the sunny season.
The price of the 650i starts at $91,375 (including $875 destination and handling).