At The Wheel
2006 BMW 650i Coupe
Luxury, Handling and Gizmo’s. What more could you want?
By Les Jackson Cruise Control Radio.Com
Spend a couple hundred miles in the new BMW 650i and a bond will develop between you and several thousand pounds of machinery, wiring, glass and upholstery. It's one of those cars that is pleasant to drive whether on neighborhood streets or twisting mountain roads. This sleek coupe is the best-looking BMW I've seen in recent years. It's "de-Bangled," which means chief designer Her Bangle exercised prudence and didn't do all those things he's been doing to the other models in recent years that raise the ire of BMW-afficionados.
The 650i has a nice stance, is easy to enter and exit and has all the amenities expected by those who sit at the upper end of the economic food chain in our society. It's not inexpensive by any measure, but at $81,940 (more about that later) my test car offered a lot of satisfaction and stunning performance without sacrificing comfort.
On the subject of comfort, with most cars out in the marketplace when you get 19-inch wheels and super low-profile run-flat tires (part of the $1,800 Sport Package) you can be sure that the ride will be similar to that of a manhole cover with wheels. Setting myself up for a "bone-shaker" of a ride, I was pleasantly surprised to find that BMW managed to smooth out all but the harshest of road surfaces, thanks to intelligent suspension design.
That suspension softening doesn't compromise the traditional BMW handling. The car goes where it's pointed and does so with a sense of stability, enhanced by equipment such as Active Roll Stabilization, Stability Control and Traction Control.
Once seated, I found myself embraced by the interior and quite comfortable. All controls are placed nicely within reach, including the I-Drive control knob. Its current software is far easier to use than the original and most menu selections are intuitive. Given my druthers I'd rather not have such a system at all, but it works well and isn't too distracting. One gets a choice of woods for the dash décor when one buys a 650i, and the test car had a blond-finished maple that I don't particularly think looks good in a car. Give me burled walnut any time, but in any case the level of material quality and craftsmanship is first-rate.
I like the fact that the service display is condition-based. That is, if you don't need to know about a particular system/component condition, you won't get a display. Only important things will pop up when you need to know. Another nice thing about the test car was the premium sound system ($1,800, plus $595 for satellite radio) and heads-up display. Why more people don't ask for HUD's I don't know, but I happen to like such things.
There's so much other gadgetry on the 650i that you just have to try one out to see for yourself. It's a great machine and well worth the price, provided you are well-heeled enough that spending such money levels don't phase you. For that substantial sum you get a 4-year 50,000 mile warranty and a 12-year rust-through warranty, so at least you can rest easy in knowing it won't cost much additional for a few years.
Online Links : www.bmwusa.com Manufacturer Site
www.bmwcca.org BMW Car Club of America
www.bmwboard.com BMW Forums, News
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