We have information you must know before you buy the 650.
We want to send it to you, along with other pricing insights.
We will not spam you, and will never sell your email. You may unsubscribe at any time.
The 2006 BMW 6 Series delivers stellar performance, brilliant handling and that arrow-like stability that defines BMW. It's a premium grand touring car and is available as a coupe or convertible.
The 2006 models bring a slight change in 6 Series nomenclature and more of what we like best in this car: power. Thanks to a new engine, the 645Ci Coupe and 645Ci Convertible have become the 650i, respectively. The new 4.8-liter V8 is slightly larger than its predecessor with 10 percent more horsepower and torque. (Apparently 648i didn't have quite the ring as 650i.)
Other changes for 2006 include new wheel designs, new exterior colors and some interesting, if minor, tweaks inside. Active Steering, a high-tech BMW system appreciated by some driving enthusiasts and hated by others, is now a stand-alone option and no longer required as part of the popular Sport Package.
The coupe and convertible are essentially hard- and soft-top versions of the same car. Bristling with the latest technology, they are not simply two-door versions of BMW 5 Series sedans. The 6 Series is a modern interpretation of the classic GT, or Gran Turismo.
While both the coupe and convertible have a back seat that can fit small people in a pinch, they are really intended to move two people and their belongings in high comfort and style, safely, at truly impressive velocity. The 6 Series offers more luxurious accommodations than BMW's Z4 sports car, yet with higher performance, more agility and sportier styling than the 5 Series sports sedans. BMW's corporate design themes, panned by many in recent years, seem to fit better on the long, low 6 Series.
All 6 Series buyers now get complimentary high-performance driving instruction at the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina. It's a nice ownership perk, because the 650i Coupe and 650i Convertible each qualify as an ultimate driving machine, and the chance to try them on a track will be well-appreciated. Yet either can be driven all day in the most mundane driving situations in perfect comfort. These cars might just represent a well-respected automotive marque at its very best circa 2006.
The V8 has grown from 4.4 to 4.8 liters, with an increase of 35 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque, peaking at 360 in both cases. This engine is packed with the latest in materials and control technology. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but either a six-speed automatic with the Steptronic manual shift feature or a six-speed sequential manual gearbox (no clutch pedal) is available as a no-cost option.
Both the coupe and convertible come standard with a long list of luxury features, including leather upholstery, a choice of interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control with air cleaner, a high-power, eight-speaker stereo, xenon adaptive headlamps, moonroof, and BMW's Park Distance Control front and rear park-assist system.
There are three major option groups. The Premium Sound Package ($1,800) includes Logic7 audio with 13 speakers and a six-disc CD changer. The Cold Weather Package ($750) includes heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a ski bag pass-through from the trunk. The Sport Package ($1,800) adds sport seats and 19-inch wheels with high performance run-flat tires, but no longer includes BMW's Active Steering system.
Standalone options include the Active Steering ($1,250), radar-managed Active Cruise Control ($2,200), satellite radio hardware, ($595) and heated front seats ($500).
The 6 Series comes with the full range of active and passive safety equipment, starting with front and side-impact airbags. The 650i Coupe is also equipped with curtain-style head protection airbags, while the 650i Convertible has automatic rollover protection that deploys high strength roll hoops behind the seats. Accident avoidance features include electronic stability control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. BMW Assist telematics, with automatic collision notification, an SOS button and roadside assistance, are standard, including a one-year subscription. There's also a really cool first-aid kit in every 6 Series.
The 2006 BMW 650i's purchase price includes complimentary high-performance driving instruction at the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina. We can't think of a better way to get to know this machine. Some reviewers have complained about BMW's latest high-tech control systems mucking up the purity and driving satisfaction that have long characterized the brand, but we have no such gripes with the 6 Series. This car immediately becomes an extension of the driver, flawlessly executing his or her wishes.
Put simply, the BMW 650i is smooth and precise. It's easy to drive, always poised, and satisfying to drive at a brisk pace. The ride is taut but not harsh. It's easy to modulate the brakes and throttle and the steering is sharp. All the important controls work cohesively, making for a smooth driving experience.
The engine is silky smooth and tractable for easy going around town or in stop-and-go traffic. Yet you're rewarded with immediate response whenever you press down on the accelerator, and the reward is a bit more lavish for 2006. BMW has bumped displacement in the 6 Series engine from 4.4 to 4.8 liters, increasing the output to 360 horsepower and 360 pound feet of torque. The 32-valve V8 benefits from Valvetronic variable valve timing and variable lift, which allows an impressive combination of low-rev, off-the-line acceleration and free-breathing, high-rev horsepower. The V8's breathing is controlled entirely by the valves. (Technically, there is no throttle, so the pedal on the right is more accurately called an accelerator.) It's a fascinating engine for engineers and car buffs, but the bottom line is that there's loads of power throughout the rev range, so the 650i responds immediately in any situation. It's also an efficient engine, so energy is channeled into fuel-efficient power. The engine sounds great, emitting a guttural roar under hard acceleration through its nicely tuned exhaust system. Response is impressive in either the coupe or convertible, though convertible drivers enjoy those sweet engine sounds a little more intimately.
Of the three transmissions available, we recommend the six-speed automatic, unless you're a serious enthusiast, in which case we recommend the six-speed manual. We're not big fans of the SMG. The automatic is smooth around town and very responsive for spirited driving. In fact, a 650i with the automatic is nearly as quick as a well-driven 650i with the manual. As with all BMW automatics, it offers a Sport setting that moves shift points to higher revs for increased response. The Steptronic manual mode allows the driver to shift manually, imparting some of the same involvement as a manual. We found little need to shift into the manual mode, however, because the transmission always selected the right gear in automatic mode. The manual gearbox is smooth, precise and easy to shift, with easy clutch pedal effort. It's an excellent choice, unless a driver spends hours daily in stop-and-go traffic. The sequential manual gearbox, or SMG, is the essentially same transmission as the manual, but it operates the clutch electronically, eliminating the clutch pedal. Though we've enjoyed the SMG in the M3, the version in the 650i shifts too slowly and takes away some of the joy of driving this car.
The 650i offers a nice balance of ride and handling. Though taut, it doesn't beat up your passenger on rippled highways. The springs and shocks are firmer than those in the standard 5 Series sedans, and the 6 Series cars ride lower. A 650i is absolutely joyful on a winding highway, as we discovered on some mountain roads near Santa Barbara. Handling is precise, with a superb self-centering feel to the steering. The 6 can be driven very hard into tight corners, and it tracks through high-speed turns like it's on rails. The suspension is tuned to minimize undesirable behavior when braking hard, accelerating hard, or lifting off the
Coupe or convertible, the BMW 6 Series offers a combination of comfort, luxury, sportiness, great performance and ease of operation that's hard to beat. The 650i delivers excellent handling, exhilarating acceleration and supreme stability, and it comes with the latest active safety features. It's not a four-seater, however, it's a 2+2; the rear seat might better be described as a pet or package shelf. If seating for four is not a priority, the biggest decision with the 650i is choosing between the coupe and the convertible. You can't go wrong there.
NewCarTestDrive.com editor Mitch McCullough filed this report from Beverly Hills.
We have partnered with trusted dealers in your area to give you a great price on the new BMW 650.
This is how it works: