First Drive: 2012 BMW 650i Convertible

2012 BMW 650i Convertible

Inside story
The car is 2.9 inches longer and 1.5 inches wider, and it feels quite large from behind the wheel. The upside is that the cabin is stretch-out comfortable, at least for those in the two front thrones. BMW points out the increased legroom in back and the rear seat's less upright seatback, but the area is still barely habitable for grown-ups. More impressive cabin upgrades include the new dash and more luxurious materials. The latter includes, as an option, leather upper door trim with contrasting stitching. Sun-reflective leather seats are standard, but seat heating and cooling cost extra. Highlights of the new dash are a four-gauge instrument cluster and an ultra-wide (10.2-inch) central display for the standard navigation system. The display sits out from the dashboard and is supposed to suggest a flat-screen TV. Um, okay, but the real innovation is the trans-reflective technology that keeps the screen from washing out in bright sun.

Bottom line
Despite all that's new, the overall character of the 650i is much the same. That does not disappoint its makers. "It was not the target to make big changes," says Dr. Ochmann. The 650i remains a big, heavy, 2+2-seat grand tourer, but one that's faster, better looking, and more technology laden. For all that, you'll pay more. The sticker price has crept up nearly $5000, to $91,375. If you can live with a tin-top, you'll likely save a few grand by waiting a few more months for the coupe. If you want something more overtly sporty, you'll need to wait a bit longer, for the M6.

BMW 650i convertible

On sale: May 2011
Base price: $91,375

L x W x H: 192.6 x 74.5 x 53.7 in
Wheelbase: 112.4 in
Track, f/r: 62.8./65.0 in

Engine: 4.4-liter V-8
Power: 400 hp @ 5500-6400 rpm
Torque: 450 lb-ft @ 1750-4500 rpm
Transmissions: 8-speed automatic, 6-speed manual

Tires: Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 245/35R20, 275/30R20 (f, r)
Wheels: 9 x 20 in

Curb weight: 4531 lb (previously 4277)
Cargo volume: 12.3/10.6 cu ft (top up/down)

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