What's New for 2010
The BMW 650i Coupe and Convertible receive the latest version of BMW's iDrive software and a hard-drive-based navigation system with 13 gigabytes of multimedia storage. Also, the automatic transmission is now standard and the six-speed manual an extra-cost option.
For better or worse, the 2010 BMW 6 Series is a reminder of what happened on erstwhile BMW design chief Chris Bangle's watch. With its Porsche 911-esque profile, distinctive ducktail trunk and lidded headlights, the 6 Series has been alternately wooing and alienating luxury coupe and convertible buyers since its debut back in 2004. Aesthetics aside, we've had few complaints about BMW's flagship GT over the years, and for 2010 BMW has addressed a major one by installing the much-improved fourth-generation iDrive system. If you're in the market for a car of this type, the 6 Series still merits close consideration, even in its seventh year of production.
As noted, the big news this year is on the iDrive front, where BMW has finally taken its much-maligned electronics interface back to the shop for serious revisions. The result is – gasp! – a system that's actually fairly intuitive, thanks to the addition of numerous controller-adjacent physical buttons for frequently used functions (stereo, navigation, telephone) and redesigned menus that are more logically arranged. Additionally, the navigation system is now hard-drive-based and offers 13 gigabytes of multimedia storage and real-time traffic information. It may have taken six full years of production, but the 6 Series now boasts industry-standard cabin technology in addition to its other virtues.
As ever, these virtues are plentiful, starting with the mellifluous 4.8-liter V8 under the hood of the 650i (the only available 6 Series model). While this motor clearly lacks the low-end punch of a Mercedes-Benz V8, it compensates with velvety refinement and a thrilling high-end punch. To BMW's credit, a manual transmission is still available for the presumably few buyers who want one (BMW is mum on the take rate), though it's now a $250 option rather than standard. Additional points in the 6 Series' favor include a choice of coupe and convertible body styles, a trick soft top with an independent power glass rear window on the convertible, and excellent ride and handling characteristics.
The 2010 BMW 6 Series is a luxury coupe, not a cutting-edge sports machine, so you shouldn't expect it to handle like a Porsche 911 or even its 335i and M3 siblings, both of which are available as retractable-hardtop convertibles. Nonetheless, as personal luxury vehicles go, the 6 Series offers a beguiling combination of confident performance, a cosseting cabin, unique style and newly competitive electronics. Though you'll certainly want to check out Mercedes-Benz's new E-Class Coupe as well as the Jaguar XK-Series, this BMW continues to be a very appealing luxury sport coupe and convertible.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 BMW 650i is available in coupe and convertible body styles. Standard equipment on the coupe includes 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, foglights, auto wipers, parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, a panoramic tilt-only sunroof, eight-way power front seats with driver memory, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, the iDrive electronics interface, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, and a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice recognition, 13 gigabytes of multimedia storage and real-time traffic. The convertible adds sun-reflective leather upholstery and a power soft top with a glass rear window that can be raised and lowered independently.
Options include a Sport package that adds 19-inch wheels, sport seats, a sport-tuned suspension, a body kit, different exhaust tuning, a unique hood design, an Alcantara headliner (coupe only) and exclusive color options. For those who are more stylistically inclined, the Individual Composition option has 19-inch wheels along with unique exterior color choices and special interior trim and upholstery details. The Premium Sound package adds an upgraded surround-sound audio system, an in-dash six-CD changer and a USB/iPod adapter. The Cold Weather package adds heated front seats (also available as a stand-alone option), a heated steering wheel and a trunk pass-through ski bag. Other options include different 19-inch wheels, active steering, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/ignition, upgraded leather upholstery, a head-up display, an infrared night vision display, a lane departure warning system and satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2010 BMW 650i is motivated by a 4.8-liter V8 good for 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. The standard transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual shift control, and a six-speed manual is optional. In performance testing, we've timed a 650i Coupe from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds; expect the heavier convertible to trail by a few tenths. Fuel economy with the automatic is an EPA-estimated 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Getting the manual drops the highway number by 1 mpg on coupes, and the overall numbers to 14/21/16 on convertibles.
Standard safety equipment includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes with advanced standby and drying features, stability control, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and active head restraints. The coupe features side curtain airbags while the convertible gets pop-up rollover hoops.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 BMW 6 Series cockpit lags behind the Jaguar XK's in distinctiveness, but materials and construction are excellent, and the driving position is second to none. The revised iDrive system is a significant improvement, as BMW has finally conceded that it's better to have numerous physical buttons than a perfectly uncluttered center console. The on-screen menu layout is also more intuitive than before. On the downside, the lone front cupholder is a separate unit that plugs into the center console and must be stored someplace else when not in use. We know the Germans don't believe in sipping while driving, but Americans do, and they won't be happy with this setup.
The 650i is perfectly accommodating for two, but the backseat is tight thanks to the dramatically sloping roof line. Both coupe and convertible have an easy-entry feature for accessing the rear quarters, but only the convertible's is power-operated. Trunk space measures 13 cubic feet in the coupe and a still-healthy 12.4 in the 650i convertible (10.6 with the top down), and both cars have a pass-through to accommodate longer items. The convertible's nifty rear window operates separately from the power soft top and doubles as a wind deflector when the roof is lowered.
The 2010 BMW 650i isn't as sporting as some other BMW models, but its well-controlled body motions and firm-yet-supple ride are certainly up to BMW standards. The Active Roll Stabilization system keeps the big coupe composed around corners, and in general the 6 Series feels more nimble than the car's size and 2-ton curb weight would suggest. The 4.8-liter V8 is a gem for those who don't mind winding their engine out to redline, but fans of low-end torque will find it lacking relative to, say, the 5.5-liter V8 in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe.