PORTLAND, Ore. — There's probably a band or a TV show that you used to love, but as time went on, they changed what they were so much that they were no longer the thing you fell in love with. The name's the same, but it's just not the same, you know? Well, I know I'm not alone in feeling similarly about BMW. I yearned for those of the late 1990s as teenager, then objectively appreciated those of a decade later as a professional journalist. Then things changed. BMW started appealing to a wider audience, created new market niches and adopted new technologies like electric power steering with imperfect success. Its cars just didn't possess the driver engagement fans and reviewers had come to expect. The name's the same, but it just isn't the same, you know? Well, the 2019 BMW M850i Convertible is not the same as a turn-of-the-century E39 5 Series or reborn 6 Series of the mid-2000s. Feels nothing like them and that's fine. It's a sensational car oozing with advanced engineering and class. It is an astonishingly rigid four-seat convertible, courtesy BMW's "Carbon Core" technology first found on the 7 Series that introduces carbon fiber to the aluminum and high-strength steel structure. Giant bumps are absorbed without a hint of shake or harshness, while even my crazy inclined driveway couldn't make it creak or flex. This is a stunning achievement for a vehicle with some cloth for a roof. So too is the amount of noise inside the cabin with that roof raised. Wind and road noise are basically nill, and only when it started to rain could you really tell you weren't covered by a rigid material. The M850i Convertible is the first BMW since the E90 3 Series with steering that made me nod with approval. That's not to say the two are similar. They're extremely different, just similarly well-executed. You can feel vibration through the M850i's wheel and there's sensation transmitted from the tires to your hands. It does indeed engage you when driven quickly. Engaging Sport mode helps, but isn't the necessity it was in so many BMWs of the last decade. In fact, there's not that much difference in steering effort between modes, a welcome trend now permeating the automotive industry. However, the M850i is a GT, and as such, the steering behaves in a way that encourages a relaxed, yet responsive effort at higher speeds, and a lighter effort at low ones. When driving lazily around town, there's initial resistance at turn-in followed by easy, but linear effort. It's slightly comparable to an Audi, but there's far more information filtering through. This is most definitely not indicative of those "glory days" BMWs folks like me fawn over with rose-tinted glasses, but it's appropriate for the car and in fact superior in certain respects. For instance, the E60 5 Series and the second-generation X5 had unpleasantly heavy steering at low speeds. The M850i's ride is excellent, a testament to superior …
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|MPG||18 City / 25 Hwy|
|Power||523 @ 5500 rpm|
|Drivetrain||xDrive all wheel|
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