2016 BMW 650i Gran Coupe xDrive
The looker from Munich still delights
That is a properly good looking car. But why call it a coupe? It clearly has four doors…
Anytime a German manufacturer changes the nomenclature of its models (which these days is quite often) or decides to redefine or simply make up another niche marketplace, our attention span wanes considerably. Not because we don’t care, but because these incremental revisions rarely mean anything. Our test car is a perfect example: it’s deck lid says 650i and yet it’s twin turbo V8 displaces 4.4 litres and not 5, and its C-pillars announce in cutting edge font that it’s a Gran Coupe despite their being two extra doors. Ambiguity aside, one thing most people who encounter the 650i GC unanimously agree on is the spectacular styling. This model should easily claim the title of best looking car currently hailing from Munich.
So this is the ultimate grand touring car?
Jeremy Clarkson once referred to the 6 series Garn Coupe as the “Ultimate Munich-to-Monaco Mile Muncher”, and it would be hard to argue that isn’t exactly what the 650i was built for- stretching its legs at high speeds while coddling its occupants in delicately soft leather. Our tester was relatively light on options, but it did have the M Sport Edition Package which includes stuff like ventilated seats, soft close doors and a plethora of other kit for $8,300. It’s actually a good value when you consider all that’s included, and take a look at the interior images- our tester wasn’t exactly slumming it. There are a few things that stand in the 650 GC’s way from near perfection, the most obvious being the lack of a proper middle seat in the rear. Anyone who’s drawn the short straw and ends up sitting there will be looking for the OFF button for the rear climate control- the vents are aimed straight at the nether regions, and a constant blast of hot or cold air to that area on a long haul would be, uh, uncomfortable. Headroom is sacrificed somewhat at the alter of the Gran Coupe styling profile. Also, the trunk is rather small if tasked with swallowing the luggage of four adult occupants, so packing light will be mandatory.
OK, but at least you’ll arrive at your destination quickly, right?
It seems almost like an exercise in futility, trying to describe at how wonderfully executed a BMW drivetrain really is. In each car that wears the iconic roundel that we have tested, the engine and transmission work in beautiful harmony. In this case, that harmony includes the dulcet roar of a 4.4 litre twin-turbocharged V8 and ZF’s glorious 8-speed automatic. The blown V8 is the foundation on which the M6’s S63 engine is built, and you can see why the M car is such a sledgehammer when the ‘regular’ 650i turns out 445 horsepower and 480 lbs/ft. of torque. Seriously folks, more power is always nice, but you will never want for more power in this thing. It builds speed in a relentless, linear fashion, and sounds better than the M6 while doing so- think proper V8 noises, not the synthetic soundtrack from the S63. The transmission is always a willing ally, shifting gears seamlessly or in crisp rapid-fire fashion, depending on what drive mode you’ve selected and the position of the throttle.
What’s not to like?
Complaining about fuel economy where a car like the 650i Gran Coupe is concerned is a bit silly. Its size and weight alone mean that consumption will be brisk, and lo and behold, our Road Test figure of 14.6L/100km isn’t going to pique any interest at the next hypermiling conference. Yet if you devote all your faculties to driving the thing as efficiency as possible, you can get your numbers down quite a bit. The chassis would be otherwise be nicely dialed-in for the 650’s mission were it not for a steering rack that likes to keep its cards close to the chest. We’d hoped for a little more cush when we selected Comfort + on the drive selector- the GC feels a little too starched even in its most relaxed setting. And where aesthetics are concerned, the Frozen Grey paint looks spectacular, but the proper care regime for this paint type is far too complicated for the real world- in some cases, a trip to the dealership is necessary, depending on how you’ve soiled your pricey livery. Attracting the right kind of attention is usually high on the list of those who patronize this segment of the automotive world, and even if a few birds poop on your A pillar or you’ve got to leave your pocket square collection at home when heading out on a road trip, the 650i Gran Coupe still delivers.
2016 BMW 650i xDrive Gran Coupé — Specifications
Price as tested: $112,800
Body Type: 4-door, 4 passenger Coupe
Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
Engine: 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo, DOHC, 32 valves
Horsepower: 445 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.): 480 @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Curb weight: 2,073 kg (4,570 lbs)
Observed Fuel Economy: 14.6L/100km (16 mpg)