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John Diether
Automotive Editor - January 3, 2013

Expert Rating

4.6 (Excellent)
17 City / 25 Highway

Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.


BMW's high-style tourer returns for its second season as a 2-door coupe, 4-door gran coupe, and convertible. Whatever the body style, the 650i stands out as big, fast, and visually stunning. Based loosely on the more conservative 5-Series, all 650i models are powered by a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8 good for 445 horsepower and mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual can be ordered on the coupe only). BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is available across the board.

Weighing in 4,300 pounds, the 650i accelerates from zero to sixty in about 4.5 seconds, high-performance territory despite its size and luxury. Standard equipment includes what BMW calls Driving Dynamics Control, which allows the driver to select driving modes (Comfort, Sports, Eco Pro) that adjust the car's steering, throttle, suspension, and transmission for desired performance.

The gran coupe, with its two extra doors, is 6 inches longer overall and offers more rear head and leg room, but the standard full-length console makes five-passenger seating awkward even in a pinch. It's best to think of these cars as roomy four-seaters with grand-scale performance and appointments.

Packages are available to help buyers personalize their cars with extra-cost woods, leathers, and colors (both inside and out). Interesting options include 4-wheel steering, glazed ceramic interior controls, automatic soft-closing doors, and a BMW-issue ski bag.

The 650i's natural competitor is the Mercedes CLS-Class, which offers a twin turbo of its own, albeit with 402 horsepower, and a somewhat lower sticker price. Porsche's 4-door Panamera is priced similarly to the gran coupe, but is skewed more toward all-out performance than high-class touring. Some lower-rung players (Audi A7, Mercedes E-Class, Cadillac CTS) can be optioned well enough to be credible alternatives for buyers who want something more conservative in looks and price.

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