log in

Car Reviews

Test Drive – 2016 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet

The 6-series is a unique proposition from BMW filling the brand’s void of a high-end coupe in its line-up. Making its debut in 1976, the model was discontinued at the end of the 1980’s only to be resurrected in 2003. And what a comeback it was.

The 6-series featured a sporty exterior accentuated by drooping taillights and BMW’s second implementation of the controversial split trunk lid designed by Chris Bangle, after the E65 7-series. The 6-series gave the now-defunct Mercedes CL coupe a run for its money.

The third-generation of the 6-series, launched in 2011, is a physical representation of what a 7-series coupe would look like sans two doors. With its low profile and sweeping styling, the new 6-series is a strong contender against current Mercedes high-end coupes like the SL and the S-class coupe. For those who need more room than the SL’s two seats, and can’t imagine spending over $150,000 on a 2-door S-Class, the 6-series is a perfect blend of space and value in the high-end segment. One might even argue that the 6-series, like the X6, is inventing its own category by providing a unique offering. Luckily, I had the opportunity to get behind the 6-series to put it to the test.

My tester was a 650i convertible equipped with a twin-turbo, 4.4-litre eight-cylinder engine outputting 445 hp at 5,500 rpm. Those wanting a smaller engine would have to trade out two cylinders for two more doors, as the 4-door Gran Coupe is the only 6-series offered with a 3-litre six-cylinder engine.

Both engine choices are paired with ZF-derived eight-speed automatics as standard equipment. This lively transmission shifts rapidly between gears, and does a fantastic job of matching the driver’s throttle requirement with the relevant gear. Those seeking a clutch pedal for some shifting pleasure will be hard-pressed to find one on anything less than an M6.

The 650i has had a mid-cycle refresh since its third-generation launch, but only a true BMW aficionado can point out what’s changed. While the changes are mild, the original futuristic design still proves timeless, and still very much in line with the latest 7-series design language. The minor design changes include a refreshed air intake and an updated kidney grille. The headlights have also been updated, moving the turn signals to the top and aiding to a slimmer profile. Adaptive LED headlamps are now standard and have a beautiful fade effect when they are toggled. All else is consistent with the pre-refresh model, which is a good thing.

Stepping inside, one will notice the flawless blend between design and technology. It’s great that BMW stuck with the myriad of buttons inside the cabin to control everything from the radio to the climate control, instead of assigning it all to the iDrive system. The iDrive system itself has a very executive feel with its slick interface and large dial – all displayed on a 10.2-inch super wide non-touchscreen. The dashboard features another 10.2-inch digital display that's partially covered to make the gauges look realistic. Toggling between the driving modes brings the digital dash to life, displaying different gauges depending on what information is relevant to the driving experience.

What I enjoy most about mid-to-high range BMWs is the configurable and highly responsive driving modes. There are five driving modes: Sport+, Sport, Comfort, Comfort+, and EcoPro. On EcoPro, the on-board computer limits the response level between the throttle and the engine, while also limiting the RPMs. Even under this fuel-efficient mode, pushing hard on the throttle for longer, temporarily disengages the EcoPro mode and the engine outputs more power to meet the driver’s requirement. Sport+ on the other hand just brings out the raw power of the engine and an unadulterated relationship between the engine and the throttle comes to life. The ZF transmission performed consistently fast under all modes, although its quick shifts and high notes were most notable in Sport+.

With its 5-series derived platform and massive twin-turbo V8 engine, the 650i is not a light car by any means. This heavyweight weighs 300 kilograms more than the 449 horsepower V8 Mercedes SL550. Even with its much heavier body, it still manages to do 0-100 km/h run in close to 4.2 seconds, compared to the SL’s 4.1 time.

Overall, the 6-series is a distinct high-end offering for the discerning car buyer in the market for a unique product. With its athletic styling and driver-centric performance – all in a relatively spacious package, it offers the sheer driving pleasure and brand distinction craved by the affluent alike.

BMW Films back for some 5-Series action

15 years ago, BMW Films created a big buzz with a short film series called, “The Hire,” which had eight short films released between 2001-02. These films starred actor Clive Owen as “The Driver,” and featured plenty of action involving various BMWs in exhilarating chase scenes.

It was a unique way to brand content: providing BMW Films more than 100-million views online. In this YouTube age, that's good, but nothing to brag about; however, back then it was a brilliant marketing success.

Well, if you've longed for more action-packed excitement from the people at BMW Films, your prayers have been answered with a new short feature called “The Escape,” that brings Owen back in his role behind the wheel.

The 13-minute feature has a new director in Neill Blomkamp, a past Academy Award-nominee, but they made sure to also bring back Creative Director, Bruce Bildsten, and Executive Producers Brian DiLorenzo and David Carter. The film also stars Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Famiga.

I'm not going to ruin the film for you, as it won't take up a small part of your day to watch. What I can tell you is that the car chase begins three minutes in and it doesn't let up until the very end. Owen shows some driving skills and throttle action, but let's the BMW 5-Series do much of the work as it battles a pack of hummers, machine guns and even, a helicopter.
The film is exclusively an online production that will start out on BMWFilms.com beginning on Sunday, October 23 at 6:00pm ET, and will later be shown on BMW's YouTube channel. It will be interesting to see how its views compared to the hype that was achieved at the turn of the century.

Regardless of the outcome, BMW is going back to its roots and getting creative with its content and marketing message. This production couldn't be cheap (the budget was not revealed) given the star power of Owen and Fanning, but what's clear is BMW has focused in on what the German brand does best – create a lot of excitement from driving like hell.

Model Gigi Hadid featured in new BMW M2 campaign

BMW has gotten creative and drawn a few more eyes with its new M2 campaign.

The German brand has hired American supermodel Gigi Hadid to be the feature in its campaign, produced by agencies KBS and Serviceplan. In the video, there are five identical blue BMW M2s and the object is to follow the car Hadid hopped into.

Typically, it wouldn't be tough to follow the long-legged Gigi who is wearing a red skin tight dress, but in an M2, it's more difficult as they weave in and out with visuals being blocked by some of the front-running cars.

The voice over asks, “Can you keep your eyes on Gigi?”

At the end of the video, go to EyesOnGigi.com to make your selection and see if you were correct. So far, the campaign seems to be a big success with over 6.5-million viewers have already eyed Gigi.

  • Published in News

BMW and Jaguar Land Rover focus on car sharing programs

We've long known about the car2go program featuring the Smart fortwo, and recently featured Ford's new GoDrive, but now both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are jumping into the car sharing fray.

BMW will be using its new ReachNow service to debut in the EV-friendly city of Seattle; while JLR is still in the early stages with the launch of a technology business of its own called InMotion, an app service that aims to tap into a younger generation that are looking for short journeys hauls on the cheap.

It may be a first for JLR, but BMW has similar programs in Europe, but Seattle will be its first venture into the United States. The Emerald city will receive a fleet of 370 cars including BMW 3-Series, i3s and MINI Coopers. BMW expectations are for the ReachNow program to launch in three other North American cities this year with eventually hitting a total of ten major North American cities.

ReachNow works a bit differently from your typical ride share program, as it charges by the minute. This may seem expensive, but it's geared towards urban dwellers that need a ride for a short hall, even if it's a one-way trip. ReachNow vehicles can be located, reserved and paid for through a smartphone app. If you need the car for a specified period of time, a pre-determined price will be offered.

As for JLR's InMotion, the British brand will begin product testing in North America, Europe and Asia with public road tests to follow.

  • Published in News

BMW M2 soon to arrive in Canada

BMW has added a new member to its roster, and this time it's a true 'M' model. The all-new 2016 BMW M2 has finally been revealed, as the successor to the 1-Series M Coupe.

We've seen a lot of M-styled cars come into the picture like the M235i, but the M2 will be the true thing with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine cranking out 365 hp and 343 lb.-ft. of torque, and an overboost function that pumps up torque levels up to 369 lb.-ft.. The engine is matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a six-speed manual that can hit a top speed of 249 km/h and can accelerate from 0-100/km in 4.3 seconds (manual does a 4.5) with the help of Launch Control. 

Along with that performance are impressive rear-wheel driving dynamics and a lightweight aluminum M sport suspension that we've grown accustomed to with the German-brand in its M3 and M4 siblings. The M2 drives on 19-inch wheels with four-piston callipers that are set-up for track braking. The M2 will use an electronic power steering system that according to BMW provides “direct steering feel and precise feedback at both the track and everyday driving.”

The 2016 BMW M2's performance attributes sound exciting, but that same feeling comes with its looks. The M2 receives the typical BMW kidney grille, large intakes, a new bumper that reduces drag, and a quad-exhaust. Inside, you'll find Dakota leather black sports seats with blue contrast stitching to go along with its cool-looking carbon fibre and Alcantara trim throughout.

The 2016 BMW M2 is scheduled to be available at dealerships in the Spring of 2016 with pricing to be announced closer to its market launch.

  • Published in News
Subscribe to this RSS feed