2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet: Top-Down Opulence

Strong points
  • Very sleek silhouette and rear end
  • Great sounding engine
  • Low wind noise
Weak points
  • Front-end styling needs updating
  • Unusable rear seats
  • Cloth top instead of a retractable hardtop
Full report

When the BMW 6 Series was resurrected in 2003, the lead designer for the German company was the legendary Chris Bangle. I use the term legendary solely because of Bangle’s notoriety: his designs polarized BMW fans, many not appreciating the new styling direction.

That second-generation 6 Series wasn’t BMW’s finest design achievement. The third and current-generation model was revealed in 2011, and many people including yours truly were anxiously awaiting the new design. Thankfully, the result was met with much fanfare and the sleek new 6 Series was a head turner. The rear of this vehicle is in particular one of the nicest in the industry with a decidedly supercar aura to it. The front still has shades of the previous “bangalized” model and isn’t as appealing with small, stumpy, odd-looking headlights. Still, the overall look and shape to the 6 Series is one that isn’t out of place parked next to an Aston Martin or Maserati. It’s sleek as heck and screams money.

The 6er is offered in three body styles: two-door coupe, cabriolet and four-door Gran Coupé. Engine options consist of a choice of turbocharged engines, namely the 315-horsepower inline-six in the 640i models and the 445-horsepower V8 in the 650i models. The monstrous M6 with its twin-turbo, 560-horsepower V8 is available in all three body styles.

Photo: Danny Geraghty

The 650i cabrio tester came a bit late in the season, but that didn’t stop us from some chilly top-down cruising. Unfortunately, BMW has stuck with a soft top which means a little more cabin noise on the highway and this one seems to have slightly longer open/close operation. At around 20 seconds to fully close, it’s slower than I could have liked, but in reality, nobody is going to cancel the sale based on how long it takes them to put the top down. One aspect I do like is the fact that the top can be raised at speeds of up to 40 km/h.

BMW does a remarkable job of insulating the cabin from wind noise on the highway with the top down. The windows need to be up, but there is no excessive wind blowing your hat off and conversations can be had at a relatively normal volume What’s missing is a neck-warming feature such as the AIRSCARF system found in the Mercedes E-Class cabriolet, that blows warm air from a vent behind your neck. Interestingly, the 4 Series cabriolet has such as device, so why didn’t they port it over to the more expensive 6 Series?

The interior of the BMW 6 Series is quite luxurious and the Opal White full merino leather of our test car is dazzling. The only downside to the white interior is how quickly it gets dirty. The test vehicle had about ten thousand kilometers on it, but the white interior looked almost permanently dirty. This isn’t a BMW problem and is something I’ve noticed in all my tested vehicles that came with light-coloured interiors. As $5,900 for the BMW Individual option, I would shy away from that colour in favour of something darker to protect my investment.

The rest of the interior is standard BMW, which is to say excellent. The three-spoke M-style steering wheel is my favourite in the industry and the iDrive infotainment system is fairly easy to use when you get the hang of it. Rear-seat legroom is almost non-existent and even my toddlers didn’t have any room to work with when an occupant was in front of them. Adults should just forget about using the rear seats altogether.

Photo: BMW AG

The exhaust note that the V8 in the 650i makes on cold startups is a thing of beauty and leaves nobody wondering whether this sleek machine packs a punch. Acceleration is smooth and even throughout the power band, the eight-speed transmission executes shifts with precision. Those 445 horses are just the right amount to keep things civilized without losing that classy edge.

Starting with an MSRP of $111,500, one can quickly run up the price with a few options. I’d find it hard not to get the $8,400 M Sport package (BMW has combined the Executive Package into it) which includes such necessities as 20” rims, that three-spoke M steering wheel, backup camera, comfort and ventilated seats, leather-trimmed dashboard, blind-spot monitoring, head-up display and many other important features. The test vehicle retailed for $126,900 before freight and delivery charges.

I’m not a convertible guy by any means, but the 2017 BMW 650i Cabriolet checks all the boxes in its class and makes for a must-test option when in the market for a topless sporty grand tourer.

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