BimmerFile Review: The BMW 650i Gran Coupe

gran coupe 6 series 650i

The BMW 650i Gran Coupe is $119,000 of car. At least, that ‘s the price printed on the sticker in front of me. As I approach our 6GC tester it occurs to me that it ‘s almost identical to the car that I reviewed last year at the model launch in California. That car made a big impression on me in not only how it drove but how it looked. Yet seeing this nearly identical car in the wilds of Chicago, it somehow looks much more other-worldy. The stunning shape of the four door coupe is made all the more striking by the $3,500 “Frozen ” Bronze paint. Standing in front of it, I can ‘t think of any BMW I ‘ve ever seen that had this much visual presence. As I got closer, the matte paint finish deepened the character of the car ‘s lines — making a dramatic design even more so.

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Taking a seat inside inside, things get a bit less subtle. Opal White Leather, white wood and a stunning Amaro Brown suede headliner round out the interior. It ‘s a welcome respite from the typical dull world of black leather and brown shiny wood. The combination is striking. It makes you wonder why can ‘t all leather and wood be white? If BMW had designed an interior inspired by Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back this would be it. It may not be everyday livable given blue jeans and other dye transfer issues but its nothing if not otherworldly. Im surprised BMW doesn ‘t require owners to sign a chinos or dress pants waiver. But material temperament aside, there ‘s no denying the beauty of the results.

All of this stimulation came before even driving the 6GC. The week I spent with the 650i Gran Coupe started in the Chicago loop, but soon took me around the tip of Lake Michigan for the weekend before returning back to the rigors of Chicago commuting. Through it all, my goal was to live with this car as I would any vehicle. I was constantly asking the question, “Could this incredible looking car actually be worth $119,000? “

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The 6GC has a whiff of “new money ” about it. For better or worse, this is not a car that feels “proper ” or “posh ” in the old world, country club sense of luxury. It ‘s the result of new thinking. New markets. New demands from buyers. And sure, maybe even a little “new money ” audience requirements. Much like the X6 or, of course, the Mercedes CLS that started the four door coupe trend, the 6GC helps further define a segment that is foreign to many. Coupe means two doors, right? Yet unlike the X6 or even the current CLS, the 6 Series Gran Coupe is about as undeniably attractive as a modern four door can get.

From behind the wheel it drives as one would expect: like a heavier 6 Series coupe. Not a bad thing, mind you. We ‘ve praised the current generation 6 Series in all its incarnations from convertible to coupe. There ‘s not the immediate connection you get from an M car, but that ‘s not the point here. The 650i GC is at once serene and brutal in how it goes about the transporting you.

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While it ‘s not a light car (in V8 trim, our tester was an eye-watering 4,430 lbs), the performance is more than adequate. It ‘s not just the 4.5 second 0-60 time we ‘re referring to either. As we found out last year in our initial drive, the 650i Gran Coupe is much more adept at hustling around corners than it has any right to be. Credit BMW ‘s adaptive drive for that performance capability. The technology ‘s Variable Damper Control (VDC) sensors monitor speed, steering position and the chassis ‘ pitch/yaw angles to continuously adjust the stabilizers and dampers. This coordinated interaction overcomes the 6GC ‘s 4,430 lbs curb weight and the stresses that aggressive driving put on it. The results are as surprisingly effective as they were when we encountered the same technology in the F10 M5, X5M and X6M. To put it simply, BMW has found a way to seemingly defy the nature of inertia and momentum, and VDC is at the heart of it.

But a 4,430 lbs curb weight can ‘t always be ignored. Hustling a V8-powered 6GC will make you keenly aware of the limitations of the brakes, which are good, but not great. Also, as brilliant as VDC is, the suspension still has its limits, and the car ‘s weight helps you find them quickly. The 650i is simply a big car in V8 form – 239 lbs bigger than the 640i. The extra weight alters the car ‘s character, making it more deliberate and graceful than sharp-edged and sporty. The 640i, on the other hand, offers slightly slower sprint to 60 mph (5.4 vs 4.5 seconds) but a more eager feel. It also sports about 20% better economy. The other key difference in the 650i is an $11,000 penalty for the extra 130 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque afforded by the V8.

However, all is forgiven when you burry your foot in the creamy power of that N63 4.4L twin turbo V8. We ‘ve reviewed this power plant in numerous BMWs over the years and have always come away impressed. Up 45hp from the original version, BMW has given us more power, more torque and somehow, more efficiency.I saw 24 mpg on a fast highway road-trip and upper teens in Chicago commuting. My comparitively svelte 1M doesn ‘t do much better.

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Few cars on the market that are this big and heavy involve the driver as much as the 650i GC does. This car is 197 ” long, and as mentioned, weighs in well over two tons. Dimensions aside, even fewer cars of this kind surround the driver and passengers in this much focused opulence. With BMW Individual options liberally applied inside and out, our tester 6GC oozed sophistication and presence. The material and build quality is remarkable. The stitching and leatherwork has the visual texture of hand-made, yet executed with that German precision that only seems possible by machine.

Beyond the tall price, there ‘s little to criticize about 650i Gran Coupe. As with many contemporary cars, the driver is cocooned a bit more than we ‘d like. But we can ‘t argue with what the marketplace wants or with BMW for giving it to them.Fit and finish in the 6GC rivals or surpasses anything in its class and performance is more than adequate for this segment. Perhaps the only niggling issues revolve around the rear seats not being as comfortable as a standard four door sedan. Yet given that the word “coupe ” is in the name, that can hardly be a surprise. In reality, the 650i Gran Coupe is a gorgeous car with a shape and drivetrain that would have been considered otherworldly only a few years ago. That is achieved through a handful of compromises that, if this is the car I ‘d want, I ‘d happily make.

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Whether the drudgery of a daily Chicago commute, or the winding roads of western Michigan, the 650i Gran Coupe felt specifically designed for the task. The car rewarded spirited driving all while delivering a level of luxury on par with international first class airport lounges. Many $100,000 cars don ‘t feel like $100,000 cars. The 6GC, on the other hand, does. It feels like it may actually be worth the asking price.

As is customary on BF, when we get something interesting in the garage it becomes a magnet for a few local enthusiasts friends. They come, we crack open the beer, we kick the tires and dissect what ‘s in front of us. Over the years just about every BMW model has been through our test garage at one time or another, and a BMW roundel on the hood doesn ‘t guarantee approval. BMW enthusiast can be a tough crowd, after all. On average, the more vintage or motorsport derived BMWs tend to get the most enthusiastic approval. Yet never has a car stunned this jaded crowd as much as the 6GC did. The tone of the conversation (even with a pint in hand) was instantly reverential. The combination of design and material quality inside and out stunned us all. From the 30 ft away, to the intricate details up-close, the 6GC is successful at every level.

Is it $119,000 worth of car? Is any car really worth that much? In our estimation, as much as any car could be, the 650i earns the price on its window sticker.

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Test Notes

As we mentioned above, our 650i test car came equipped with nearly every available option. Tough test right? Beyond allowing of the highest order of luxury, it also gave us a chance to get more seat-time and give you our views on each. Here ‘s a quick BF score-card on a few of those options and whether they ‘re worth the cost:

  • Frozen (matte) paint ($3500): Incredibly, this may be the most “worth-it ” option of all. In person and in the real world it ‘s nothing less than stunning. Especially in Frozen Bronze.
  • Individual Opal White Leather with Amaro Brown suede headliner ($3500): Great for a test car, but you have to wonder how much care the white leather would need over the long term course of ownership. If I was laying down $3500 for an interior, I ‘d likely go for the dark brown with white stitching for a more subtle look and better durability.
  • White wood trim ($1000): Included in the “Individual ” interior, the white maple wood trim may just be the biggest surprise on the car. At first glance, it ‘s Apple-like in its gloss. However, you quickly start to pick-up subtle graining and depth. It ‘s a must-have if the leather color supports it. We ‘d love to see this trim make it to more of the BMW range.
  • M-Sport Package ($4400): With our early 2013 example, the M Sport came finished with chrome window surrounds. Now that ‘s been rectified for US production, and we ‘d highly recommend the option. It gives the 6GC a more sporty, purposeful look which the shape needs.
  • Bang & Olufsen Sound System ($3700): For most the stock system will be more than adequate. Unless you love music. And love gadgets. And love the look of satin aluminum speaker grilles here and there. And if that ‘s the case it ‘ll be one of the best $3700 you ‘ll spend.
  • Adaptive Drive ($2500): Worth every penny if you have the heavier 650i. If you can part with the cash, it ‘s worth it on the 640i as well. The option gives the 6GC much better body control, but without harshness.
  • LED Lighting (part of the $1900 lighting package): If you ‘ve stepped up to the 650i you ‘re clearly not afraid of paying to get what you want. And you ‘ll want the LEDs. They give the car both a great look and give you a great look at the road. I found this especially helpful in rural areas.
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  • Adam

    Good to know that this car is well liked. Still though, the price my god, save another 20k you can get a Challenge Stradale or an F430, and insurance and running costs arent horrifically more than this, I’d still take the little red car.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Honkerburger Douglas Yancey Funnie

      I don’t think anyone would consider this car alongside a Ferrari. The 650 is a 4-door saloon with seating for 4 and is designed to be driven regularly or long distances. The Ferrari F430 is a 2 seater high performance sports car designed for racing… and if done regularly, will incur high maintenance costs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Honkerburger Douglas Yancey Funnie

    You said no to the Bang & Olufsen system but had nothing negative to say about it. Even worse, you said it’s only good for exactly what it is intended for! It certainly offers more benefit to the car than the M-Sport Kit, and it’s less money. You said don’t get it unless you, “love the look of satin aluminum speaker grilles here and there.” but at the same time you suggest the M-Sport kit because it, “came finished with chrome window surrounds.” Why do you consider the M-Sport’s body kit and chrome more beneficial than the B&O system? Go on Youtube and take a look at what went into the B&O system and you’ll reconsider the price of the fiberglass and chrome you’re spending $4,400 on.

    My guess is it’s because everyone else can see the M-Sports chrome on the outside and not see that wonderful sound system on the inside… seems shallow to me, especially when it’s a kit only intended to make your car LOOK like something it’s not. I love my 650’s B&O system and yes it’s is because I love music. I do love gadgets and I do appreciate the fine materials they chose to dress my interior in. The sound is PHENOMENAL and I highly recommend it. It’s mesmerizing when you turn the car on and its always pleasure to those who travel with me.

    If you’re so hung up on the exterior look of your 6-Series, just get the M6 and call it a day.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      It was tongue and cheek. The BO system is amazing, moderately price (for what it does) and obviously worth it if you’re an audiophile.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Honkerburger Douglas Yancey Funnie

        The term “audiophile” died with Maxwell. It’s also hard to detect how lightly to take, “No, don’t get this option.” I personally enjoy the B&O system in my 6 and I would image the traffic this website gets, your review would weigh heavily on potential 6-series buyers. You should give B&O and BMW credit for the amount of work that went into the system because it justifies the price. Again, the chrome trim and fiberglass that makes up the M-Sport kit pales in comparison to the technology that makes up the B&O Sound System.

  • johnbelter

    The 650i in that colour looks amazing car servicing