Lisbon, Portugal –
What’s this thingy then?
The BMW 6 Series is a luxury grand tourer, that is, it’s supposed to do the things a Bentley Continental or Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe (previously CL) can do: Fly across countries at ludicrous speed, leaving your hair and bowels unruffled.
A fast, luxurious and expensive BMW. What needed fixing then?
As a BMW, a little more was expected of its driving dynamics, but it didn’t quite deliver, having an unsettled ride, sometimes vague handling, confused gearbox and feeling large even after you left the highway. It wasn’t terrible – it just wasn’t as good as the competition, or its badge, implied.
Ah, and this is the cure?
Yes, and a surprising one: Established wisdom has shown that a facelift usually does little to help a car’s driveability, since the mechanical bits that make it what is are typically unchanged. But the car world is rapidly changing and the new 6, with its mid-life facelift, shows just how much can be improved by ‘minor’ changes.
So if they didn’t change anything, what did they do?
The mechanicals are almost entirely the same, yes. What’s very different is the car’s tuning, which (like every other advanced vehicle nowadays) means its steering, adaptive suspension and gearbox settings have all been updated via software – and a whole lot of development work.
BMW 6 SERIES: RIVALS REVIEWED
And does it help?
It’s obvious that the 650i has seen major improvements, both at high and low speed. The ride quality is notably improved, thanks to the increased variance between the car’s various modes: Sport mode feels truly so, the same for Comfort, and between them you’ll surely find something to suit the road or your mood. Apply power and more of the energy is converted into leaping forward, as opposed to wasted squats, while it doesn’t wallow into depressions in the tarmac as well.
That, along with improved steering, means the 650i gains the sort of all-round drivability it once lacked. If it once felt too large for Singapore, it’s because it felt best on wide, open highways where its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 (as tested on the X6 xDrive50i and X5 xDrive50i) can be put to best use. That’s no longer the case as now the 650i is happy to support you on twisty mountain roads to even city streets as well.
What’s best about it?
Probably the tremendous power and torque from the engine, the improved gearbox, and the fact that it comes with a Sport Exhaust system which (if you keep the windows down) endows the 650i with a snarl and growl that is exactly the right touch for a car that used to lack drama.
It looks different, too – this is still a facelift after all. An M Sport kit That adds a more aggressive front end (courtesy of a different body kit), plus other incidental M bits like the fat-sausage three-spoke steering wheel and aluminium pedals. New headlights (LED, non-adaptive units are now standard), new grille colours and slight aero tweaks (wing mirrors and taillights, plus flat panels on the underbody) round out the changes to the car’s bodywork.
BMW 650i Coupe
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 4,395cc, 32V, V8, twin-turbo
Power 450bhp at 5500-6000rpm
Torque 650Nm at 2000-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 270km/h
0-100km/h 4.6 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.6L/100km
For the full review of the 650i Coupe, Cabriolet as well as the new 1 Series, be sure to pick up CarBuyer #233 which is out on newsstands in mid-April, or check back to CarBuyer.com.sg.