2006 650 New Car Test Drive
The 2006 BMW 6 Series delivers stellar performance, brilliant handling and that arrow-like stability that defines BMW. It's a premium grand touring car and is available as a coupe or convertible.
The 2006 models bring a slight change in 6 Series nomenclature and more of what we like best in this car: power. Thanks to a new engine, the 645Ci Coupe and 645Ci Convertible have become the 650i, respectively. The new 4.8-liter V8 is slightly larger than its predecessor with 10 percent more horsepower and torque. (Apparently 648i didn't have quite the ring as 650i.)
Other changes for 2006 include new wheel designs, new exterior colors and some interesting, if minor, tweaks inside. Active Steering, a high-tech BMW system appreciated by some driving enthusiasts and hated by others, is now a stand-alone option and no longer required as part of the popular Sport Package.
The coupe and convertible are essentially hard- and soft-top versions of the same car. Bristling with the latest technology, they are not simply two-door versions of BMW 5 Series sedans. The 6 Series is a modern interpretation of the classic GT, or Gran Turismo.
While both the coupe and convertible have a back seat that can fit small people in a pinch, they are really intended to move two people and their belongings in high comfort and style, safely, at truly impressive velocity. The 6 Series offers more luxurious accommodations than BMW's Z4 sports car, yet with higher performance, more agility and sportier styling than the 5 Series sports sedans. BMW's corporate design themes, panned by many in recent years, seem to fit better on the long, low 6 Series.
All 6 Series buyers now get complimentary high-performance driving instruction at the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina. It's a nice ownership perk, because the 650i Coupe and 650i Convertible each qualify as an ultimate driving machine, and the chance to try them on a track will be well-appreciated. Yet either can be driven all day in the most mundane driving situations in perfect comfort. These cars might just represent a well-respected automotive marque at its very best circa 2006.
The BMW 650i Coupe ($71,800) and 650i Convertible ($78,800) are nearly identical in temperament and equipment. A slight change in nomenclature for 2006 (both were previously called the 645Ci) reflects an increase in engine size.
The V8 has grown from 4.4 to 4.8 liters, with an increase of 35 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque, peaking at 360 in both cases. This engine is packed with the latest in materials and control technology. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but either a six-speed automatic with the Steptronic manual shift feature or a six-speed sequential manual gearbox (no clutch pedal) is available as a no-cost option.
Both the coupe and convertible come standard with a long list of luxury features, including leather upholstery, a choice of interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control with air cleaner, a high-power, eight-speaker stereo, xenon adaptive headlamps, moonroof, and BMW's Park Distance Control front and rear park-assist system.
There are three major option groups. The Premium Sound Package ($1,800) includes Logic7 audio with 13 speakers and a six-disc CD changer. The Cold Weather Package ($750) includes heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a ski bag pass-through from the trunk. The Sport Package ($1,800) adds sport seats and 19-inch wheels with high performance run-flat tires, but no longer includes BMW's Active Steering system.
Standalone options include the Active Steering ($1,250), radar-managed Active Cruise Control ($2,200), satellite radio hardware, ($595) and heated front seats ($500).
The 6 Series comes with the full range of active and passive safety equipment, starting with front and side-impact airbags. The 650i Coupe is also equipped with curtain-style head protection airbags, while the 650i Convertible has automatic rollover protection that deploys high strength roll hoops behind the seats. Accident avoidance features include electronic stability control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. BMW Assist telematics, with automatic collision notification, an SOS button and roadside assistance, are standard, including a one-year subscription. There's also a really cool first-aid kit in every 6 Series.