2012 BMW 650i Convertible Review and Test Drive

By Jonathan Spira on 10 June 2011
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The BMW 650i Convertible is all-new for 2012 and the drop-top version is being introduced in the U.S. a few months in advance of the coupe, to take advantage of what will hopefully be a warm and sunny summer.

Gone are the odd-looking eyebrows over the headlamps and the odd-shaped trunk lid as well as other design elements championed by BMW’s former chief designer, Chris Bangle.  While there is a strong familial resemblance, the third generation of the 6er looks lower, more angular, and far more elegant than its predecessor and indeed, it is longer, wider, and heavier.  The 650i shares the robust twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 that’s in the 550i and 750i. With 400 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, the 650i now sports 40 additional horses, something that comes in handy considering the extra weight on board.

In May, I had the opportunity to spend a day driving the 650i convertible in sunny Los Cabos on the Baja peninsula in Mexico.

My 400 km drive took me from my hotel, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, along Mexico Highway 1, towards San Jose del Cabo. I continued on Mexican Highway 1 until I reached my destination, La Paz, and then drove the reverse route back to the hotel.

Most of the driving was on well-paved, two-lane highways where speed enforcement was nonexistent.  Massive speed bumps slow traffic down as one approaches a town or village.  We drove through multiple towns along the way, including Las Cuevas, Buenavista, Los Barriles, San Bartolo, San Antonio, and El Triunfo.

I had heard that driving in Mexico would be interesting, but I didn’t realize that the major difference between driving the US and driving in Mexico is that drivers who want to drive fast in the U.S. have to worry about the highway patrol, while drivers in Mexico who want to go fast only have to worry about the occasional stray horse or cow wandering onto the road. 

Signage in Mexico was very clear, and there was a variety of road signs I had to become familiar with.  In addition to the ubiquitous speed bump signs and important signs such as “salida” (“exit”), a few of my favorites were “respite las senales” (“obey the road signs”) and “no maltrate las senales” (“don’t abuse the road signs”).    Of course, my very favorite was  “curvas peligrosas” (“dangerous curves”).

On the open roads of Baja Sur, heading from Cabo to La Paz, the 650i really shined.  The 450 pound-feet of torque were instantly available and made passing slower traffic (and most everyone was slower) a non-issue.  The wonderful curvy roads allowed the 650i to surprise me with its agility and grip.  Thanks in part to rear-wheel steering, tight corners (“curvas peligrosas”) were no reason to slow down that much.

Click here to continue to Page 2 – BMW 650i: Handling and Dynamics

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