2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review: A Coupe for All Seasons

The all-wheel drive gives the 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe four season capabilities. And the 400-hp and stylish looks don’t hurt.

There are few automobiles as curvaceous and pleasing to the eye as the luxurious BMW 6 Series Coupe. This stunning automobile has attracted a faithful following due to its refined manners and sporty ride, but BMW was losing many potential customers for this car due to the fact that it was unavailable fitted with xDrive, the company’s well-sorted all-wheel-drive system. Well it appears that the product planners at BMW were listening, as Canadian consumers can now order the all-new 650i xDrive in either coupe or convertible form.

Also see: BMW Reviews

Styling

The BMW 650i was introduced in 2004, so it was time for a facelift to ensure that sales would remain strong. The car has been thoroughly re-designed for 2012, but the design team was very careful to retain the majority of the car’s styling cues and iconic features such as the prominent twin-kidney grille and signature halo-ringed headlamps. The car itself is longer, wider and lower than the outgoing variant, and its new skin looks much more aerodynamic and opulent than the design it replaces.

2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review

On the Inside

2012 BMW 650i xDrive ReviewBMW is famous for perfecting the cockpit area of its automobiles so it should come as no surprise that the layout of the switchgear and various instruments has been oriented towards the driver to enhance visibility and reduce reach. The comfort of the driver has been thoroughly considered to reduce fatigue and the seating position and controls have all been designed to optimize safety and promote driver confidence. Once seated in the driver’s position I manipulated the many power controls to customize the fit of the car to best suit my individual needs. Of note, BMW’s iDrive system is back, but it has evolved to be much more intuitive. The system now utilizes a large, 10.2-inch display screen to help you navigate through the car’s various systems, as well as display navigational data, various camera views, and of course, play videos.

The passenger compartment is much roomier than it looks, but the two spots in the rear seating area are best reserved for children or smaller adults, as it can be tricky to navigate through the tight opening created when the front seat is folded forward and there is limited room for larger feet. Up front however, I found both seating positions to be very spacious, as the ultra-supportive bucket seats and extended foot-wells allow both driver and passenger to stretch out. I stand 6’2” tall and possess a large enough frame that I feel cramped when I get situated in some coupe designs, but the 650 provided sufficient leg-, hip- and headroom to make it a pleasure to get behind the wheel.

As a luxury brand BMW is noted for its impeccable interiors. The fit-and-finish of the cabin is decidedly upmarket, as premium leather hides, fine woods and soft touch materials are used throughout. You would be hard pressed to find a flaw in the stitching or signs of premature wear on any surface in this finely crafted machine.

BMW’s iDrive system is back, but it has evolved to be much more intuitive. The system now utilizes a large, 10.2-inch display screen…

2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review

Under the Hood

A quick look under the shapely hood reveals BMW’s twin-turbocharged, 4.4-litre V8 engine mated to a cutting-edge, eight-speed, sport-minded, manu-matic transmission. These twin marvels of engineering combine to deliver a driving experience so satisfying that I can almost guarantee that the car’s owner will rarely ever make it to work on time, and will probably always choose the long route to his or her destination. A six-speed manual gearbox is available as an option on the two-wheel-drive 650i, but BMW did not see enough demand to offer this option to buyers of the xDrive model.

2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review

…when you step down hard on the throttle pedal you will relish the spritely performance delivered by the ultra-smooth, 400-horsepower V8…

The BMW 650i xDrive is a relatively large car, but when you step down hard on the throttle pedal you will relish the spritely performance delivered by the ultra-smooth, 400-horsepower V8, as well as the throaty roar of the performance exhaust. The twin-turbochargers spool up so quickly that turbo lag is non-existent, and the torque band is broad enough to ensure that power is readily available at all times. Acceleration is brisk but controlled, and sprints from a standstill to 100km/h take a mere five seconds- even quicker when you make your own gear selections via the steering-wheel mounted shift paddles. BMW’s sales literature claims times as quick as 4.8 seconds!

 The Driving Experience

The marketing department at BMW has worked hard to convince the consumer that their automobiles deliver “the ultimate driving experience,” and my experience in a number of the company’s vehicles as of late has revealed that the engineering team is working hard to live up to this claim. The BMW 650i xDrive comes equipped with BMW’s innovative Adaptive Drive and Dynamic Drive systems on board, which allow the driver to adjust the car’s handling and power delivery to best suit the driving conditions. There are four dynamic pre-sets (Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+) which seamlessly transform the car’s handling and performance parameters at the touch of a button. A graphic on the display screen helps relay to the driver what changes are being made to the suspension, drive train and traction control systems.

2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review

I had the opportunity to explore some nice twisty roads during my week long test period with the 650i xDrive. I was immediately impressed with how communicative the steering felt and how precisely the car tracked as I tossed it into the corners and played with the throttle. The paddle shift mechanisms were lightning quick and when left on its own, the gearbox did not disappoint. The big disc brakes proved to be progressive rather than grabby, and are backed up by a host of electronic aids designed to maximize and maintain brake effectiveness.

2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review

The new car has been transformed by its long wheelbase and the additional weight of the xDrive system. Road surface irregularities, dips and bumps are far less intrusive than before, and the car feels more planted when driven aggressively. The partnership of the dynamic suspension and the all-wheel-drive system act seamlessly to help preserve the car’s traction which greatly enhances the car’s handling.

High-Tech

Passenger safety has become a top priority for most Canadian consumers when it comes time to shop for an automobile, and BMW is a company that takes this to the next level. When you buy a modern car that retails above the $100,000 mark,2012 BMW 650i xDrive Review it will no doubt be outfitted with the latest and greatest safety technologies such as lane-departure warning, parking assist, and a full complement of next generation air bags.

The 650i xDrive test vehicle also came equipped with BMW’s full arsenal of cameras. There is a pair of small cameras situated discretely on the front fenders that transmit a view of oncoming traffic to the dash-mounted screen so that the driver can safely enter the roadway from hidden driveways or alley ways. This keeps the car’s long hood from intruding on the flow of traffic. At the other end of the vehicle a rear view camera is cleverly concealed behind the trunk-lid’s roundel. It proved invaluable when backing- up with the roof in place, as rearward visibility is relatively poor. There is also a surround-view system which provides an overhead view of the vehicle’s surroundings which makes parking in tight spaces a far less stressful exercise. The crown jewel however is BMW’s incredible Night Vision with pedestrian recognition. This incredible advancement allows the driver to see in the dark and warns you of any approaching danger that is located outside the range of the headlights.

Takeaway

The BMW 6-Series is a country club favourite due to the fact that it offers the near perfect mix of luxury, high-technology, and performance in a design that delivers unsurpassed curb appeal.  Canadian buyers will appreciate the opportunity to order the car fitted with the proven xDrive all-wheel-drive system as it will extend your love affair with this car beyond the typical spring and summer fling enjoyed by owners of most luxury coupes.

Learn more – BMW 6 Series

CONS:

  • Rear passenger space is limited
  • Manual transmission is not an option

Technical Specifications: 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe

Base Price (MSRP): $101,500-109,900  CAD (Cabriolet)

Price as tested: $132,400

Type: 4-passenger, 2door coupe

Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

Engine: Twin-turbocharged, 4.4-litre, DOHC, V8 engine

Horsepower: 400 @ 5500 – 6400 rpm

Torque (lb-ft): 450 @ 1750 – 4500 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic auto-manual

Brakes: Disc/disc

Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 4.8 s

Fuel economy [L/100 km]: Automatic- City 13.5 L (21 mpg); Hwy 8.2 L (34.45 mpg)

Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.