Car of the Year 2012: No. 11 BMW 650i Convertible

  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The 650i is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that produces 400 hp and 450 ft lbs of torque. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The 650i features a supremely comfortable cockpit. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Compared to previous 6 Series models, the 650i displays softer, more flowing lines. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The iDrive provides access to the entertainment, navigation, and communication systems. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The navigation system includes a traffic-alert feature. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com

TOO SMOOTH  
With the 650i, BMW may be risking its reputation as the builder of the ultimate driving machines. It may well have constructed the best-looking convertible and definitely the most stylish cruiser, with intriguing touches of passenger comforts and convenience. But little of the growl and aggression that drivers have come to expect from BMW is evident. There is a gentleness to all driving functions—steering, braking, suspension, and handling—that might make some BMW disciples wonder if the company has lost its way. But maybe BMW has decided that this near-six-figure luxury vehicle, which is longer, wider, and heavier than its previous generation, should get no closer to a racetrack than the VIP parking lot. For the 650i possesses all of the luxury, elegance, and prestige of a BMW, plus a few extra niceties, such as a rear window that doubles as a draft blocker when the top is down. As judge Thomas Mao put it, "If a car can be too smooth, this car is too smooth. It is a wonderful blend of German engineering and Italian styling."

Where, one might wonder, is the downside in that? —Paul Dean

SOUL SEARCHING
The 650i convertible is one of the most strikingly styled ragtops on the road, but the car now weighs some 220 pounds more than the previous version because of the addition of a slew of new high-tech components and its slightly increased length and width. The added size hinders the car’s performance, but it does enlarge the interior, where all of the controls and components are optimally positioned.

Driving the 650i is easy, but our judges apparently wanted more soul and less status quo from BMW. —Paul Meyers

SPECIFICATIONS Configuration Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive convertible Engine 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 Transmission 8-speed automatic Power 400 hp at 5,500 rpm Torque 450 ft lbs at 1,750 rpm Curb weight 4,531 pounds Zero to 60 mph 4.9 seconds Top speed 155 mph (limited) Base price $91,000

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