With its powerful V8 engine, sleek design and NASA-rivaling technology, the new BMW 650i Convertible is a monument to the good life, writes The Wheel Deal
Some unspeakable things have happened to me while sitting behind the steering wheel of expensive test cars. Unlike some other local motoring journalists who, so they tell me, regularly use these million-dollar dream machines to acquire all sorts of debauched sexual antics from doe-eyed club babes, all I have ever been able to attract is trouble.
Back in the winter of 2008, I found myself cruising through Cape Town central in the then new and evolutionary Audi R8, when I stopped at a traffic light somewhere on the trendy Kloof Street strip. And instead of fielding adoring stares from übermodels at sidewalk cafés, all I got was a cockpit full of freshly squeezed orange juice. In a split second the innards of my mechanical Don Juan had been turned into the world’s most expensive liquidiser as two-litres of stickiness oozed across acres of leather, alcantara and carbon fibre.
Not long after this, while minding my own business in the new BMW Z4, a similar incident occurred when I took a turn through Parkhurst. I won’t hark on about it, but this innocent twist of fate ended with a woman launching the contents of her alco-pop onto my hapless roadster from a pub balcony. Of course, the pièce de résistance came when, imaginatively, she called me a “wanker” as I drove off.
Why does this happen? I don’t know. What have I learnt? Well, two things if I’m honest, and that is a) jealousy is a bitch and b) it’s best, in my case at least, to save certain cars for quiet roads free from the ever-present resentment factor. And that is exactly what I did when I was presented with the key fob to the beautiful new BMW 650i Convertible.
And, I’m taking things one step further by unleashing this Bavarian’s steely silhouette under the light of a waxing moon. A night drive doesn’t suit every test car but the darkness shrouding this BMW’s freshly restyled exterior seems to suit it down to a tee.
You see, in my mind, the 6 Series has always had a distinct air of menace about it that few cars in its class can eclipse. It is big and brooding – an unpredictable mechanical entity constantly on the verge of pouncing. So it’s suitably fitting to get accustomed to this third-generation model with the sun doing its thing on the other side of the world.
So far my first impressions are good. Whereas the previous gen BMW 6 Series caused more controversy than a honey badger cracking open a hornet’s nest, this new model is sleeker and easier on the eye. That’s not to say it’s gone all soft – far from it – but those almost left-field design cues, that so many people once loved to hate, have now been smoothed over to a point where avant-garde and acceptance meet.
The interior is suitably suave, too. Personally, I had no complaints with the one that did duty inside its predecessor but the men (and women) from Munich have ensured that the innards of their latest 6 are rivalled only by Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel. From electric seats that sculpt every contour of your body, through to a leather-wrapped dash that harbours more technology than a NASA spacecraft, this is a place in which you want to spend an inordinate amount of time. Traffic jams? Bring them on!
I admit that the rear seats will only ever be of use to land-mine victims but, then again, this is a car crafted to pander solely to the hedonistic needs of the driver and, at a push, one other passenger. Preferably one with long, tanned legs and plenty cleavage.
To be honest, I’m not bothered that the latter isn’t featuring on tonight’s menu because there are other things to keep me company. The presence of that big, chromed “50i” on the back of this car’s rump tells me the engineers have installed something biblical beneath its bonnet. And, sure enough, endowed with more power than an African dictator privy to a private army, this mechanised animal pushes Beemer’s two-ton monument to the good life along at speeds that simply defy its size.
With the roof stowed, it sounds fantastic too; the exhaust system distilling the furious anger firing within those cylinders into a smooth, baritoned symphony of muted pops and rumbles that ricochet off the asphalt and echo around the night’s empty buildings.
With Joburg’s traffic slowly thinning out, I cut the big 6 loose and fire its nose through the pools of sepia cast by lonely streetlights. Slicing past abandoned office parks and carving across interchanges still hot from the relentless rush-hour slog, the blur of urban neon quickly turns to wood and I soon find myself far beyond the city limits. In many other cars, a random nocturnal escapade would bloodshot your eyes and jolt your senses but the 650i just shrugs it off.
You see, even though many will jealously palm this convertible off as a poser’s car, a gaudy accessory to publicly peacock your bank balance, the fact remains that BMW have designed an inordinately good machine. Built to survive the horsemen and their apocalypse, this Bavarian bomber is also a fabulous drive as it combines GT levels of comfort with all the pin-sharp handling prowess that you’ve come to expect from something wearing a blue and white propeller on its bonnet.
So, yeah, go ahead, you’ve got my blessing to sign your name across BMW’s latest waiting list. Just remember that, unlike me, you won’t always be able to roll across the roads less travelled, so watch out for those missiles of envy that will inevitably come your way.
BMW 650i Convertible at a Glance:
Engine: 4395cc twin-turbo V8
Power: 300kW @ 5500 – 6400rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 1750 – 4500rpm
Transmission: eight-speed auto
0-100km/h: 5.0 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 250km/h (limited)
Fuel: 10.7l/100km (claimed combined)
Price: From R1167500
. Exceptional build quality
. Suitably rapid
. Brilliant Steptronic gearbox
. Sharp handling
. Not as edgy as previous model
. Thirsty when driven hard
. Some scuttle shake on rough roads
. Preserve of the wealthy