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A Class Act
Tuesday, 01 July 2014

 

650i-Gran-Coupe1320The BMW 650i Gran Coupe

The latest 650i BMW Gran Coupe with M-Sport Package certainly has an imposing presence as it sits on the dealership forecourt. It is one of those cars that looks perfect in Sapphire Black – Henry Ford, who famously commented “it is available in any colour, sir, providing its black” – would be pleased.

It has the incredible combination of luxury and performance and you rapidly appreciate the level of luxury when the salesman takes 15 minutes to ‘briefly’ go over its many features.
In pride of place, and dominating the centre of the dashboard, is the high definition screen that displays GPS navigation, what your mobile phone is doing, what the radio is playing and myriad of other fancy functions.

No longer do you need to ferret in the glove box for the car owner’s manual, it is on the screen. Once your mobile phone has been ‘found’ by the ever present blue tooth technology, you can check emails, have your text messages read out to you (yes, I did say ‘read’ out to you) and do more mundane things such as make calls, without taking your attention too far from the road ahead.

Intuitive wizardry
But, that’s not all. If you are stationary, you have a full complement of TV channels to watch. I still can’t quite understand why you would choose to go and sit in your car rather than your lounge to watch the latest episode of Top Gear, but it does underline the level of sophistication and wizardry available in the Coupe.

Unlike some modern cars that are overloaded with electronic gizmos, BMW has mastered a more intuitive use of technology. Despite some initial nervousness, it was really very straight forward.

If you did choose to watch a movie in your car, you could pick a lot worse locations than the front seat of a BMW Coupe.

The leather interior is sublime, with excellent air conditioning and the added feature of air conditioned seats though perforated leather. Having first decided that this was probably an unnecessary gimmick, I changed my mind when remembering how shirts get stuck to sweating skin on those long hot drives to meetings in the Perth heat.

The seat can be moved to any number of positions, offering different levels of lumber support, side support, upper back support and even parts of the body you didn’t think needed supporting! All electronic, of course.

But, enough of the creature comforts…how does the car go?

650i-Gran-Coupe-cockpit320650i Gran Coupe Cockpit

Granny to Gran Prix
Needless to say there is keyless entry and a big ‘start/stop’ button.

The car is automatic, with manual override. There are flappy paddle gear changes if you so wish and a number of different ‘ride’ set-ups. These range from an environmentally friendly ‘frugal’ mode, to two levels of ‘comfort’ mode and finally two levels of ‘sport’ mode.

To reassure the friendly salesman, I move away from the dealership in the default ‘comfort’ mode. With ooddles of V8 power on tap, I wend my way back home in the Saturday morning traffic.

Perth has chosen this particular weekend to end the long Summer drought and there is a steady light rain falling. Regardless of my concerns about bringing the car back in one piece, I just have to see what difference ‘sport’ mode makes. While waiting at traffic lights, I move the necessary switch.

There appears to be a lot going on for a few seconds.

I know that the suspension is being firmed up, the steering possibly being tightened, the ECU being remapped, but I did not expect to ‘feel’ the changes being made. It is almost as if the car is having a pit stop and a team of BMW mechanics are running over the car and making the necessary adjustments.

The difference is clear but without a private testing track and the weather limiting, there will be no envelope-pushing performances this weekend.

Invisible performance
Acceleration is effortless, braking very reassuring and handling generally perfectly neutral. My only criticism is that the ‘other world’ level of luxury numbs you to the high level of performance of the car.

The only real indication that I am pushing along at a fair rate of knots is the way everyone else is so slow and, of course, the heads-up display panel.

As a lover of performance cars, I appreciate the need to be able to feel that you are going quickly, but still be friends with the necessary speed limits. Without that heads-up display I would be rapidly pushing my luck, and then handing over my licence to our friendly lads in blue.

Despite a slight loss of that visceral connection to the road that you get with out-and-out sports cars, the BMW 650i Coupe is a very accomplished machine.

Supreme levels of luxury and all manner of in-car aids mean that every trip is a pleasure. It’s a little too classy for me, but that’s my problem and not a flaw of the Beamer.

 

BMW 650i Gran Coupe
Price of car tested $265,466 drive away
M-Sport Package is a no-cost option.
Test car courtesy of Auto Classic, Victoria Park