Crossed between a coupe and sedan, the 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe looks poised, strong and stylish despite straddling certain stylistic lines. That mixture, shaken but certainly not stirred, delivers a long, low look and sloping rear roofline that out dresses the Mercedes CLS or the Audi A7.
|1. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.4L V8 it makes 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque.
2. Starting at $86,500 it comes generously equipped for just shy of $130,000.
3. Optional extras include AWD for $3,000 and Frozen Bronze Metallic paint for $3,500
The Gran Coupe has a sculpted look that oozes class and refinement. In fact, the only part of the exterior styling BMW bungled is, thankfully, a $3,500 option. It’s called “frozen” paint, and it looked tasteless and even almost tacky.
The satin finish has its place and time, but doesn’t belong on a high-end luxury car. Instead, it looks like someone forgot to spray the clear coat before shipping.
SIMPLY GORGEOUS INTERIOR
Flinchworthy as the paint is, BMW won big points back in our book with its masterfully executed interior. Simply put, the car’s brown and white leather-appointed interior is one of the best in recent memory. The carpets, dash top, door sills and Alcantara headliner are all finished in the same rich-looking brown, while the lower door panels and seats are white with brown accents.
White wood trim insert accent pieces with faint, shadowy zebra striping set the cabin off with an elegance that would be at home in a Rolls Royce or Bentley.
But there’s more to the interior than looking like a millionaire’s smoking lounge turned modern-day stagecoach. The seats are comfortably wide and well bolstered for spirited driving. Capable or cooking or cooling up to four bottoms, the car is a treat to sit in.
In front, that’s thanks as much as anything else to the uber-adjustable buckets that are electrically governed down to the thigh supports.
The two extra doors in the Gran Coupe come in handy with passengers in tow. BMW bills the car as “4+1” seating because there are three seat belts in the back. And by adding 4.5 inches to the wheelbase over a 6 Series Coupe, and 4.4 inches of overall length, there’s an extra 4.8 inches of rear legroom.
Unfortunately for the “plus one” passenger, the center console extends to the rear seat, leaving whoever draws the short straw in a straddling position. It would have been better to axe the fifth belt in favor of more rear-seat amenities.
Thankfully, headroom for full-sized rear seat passengers is plenty. Finally, the seatback can fold down for extra cargo room when necessary.
Aside from extreme comfort, the cabin is also well laid out. BMW’s iDrive knob is still located on the console, but radio and fan controls are easily accessible on the center stack. Better still, the car’s navigation screen measures larger than 10 inches, leaving it easy to read and use.
Among the oodles of fancy features BMW packs, one stood out the most. The backup camera shows offers a birds-eye view of the car as the driver parks. That turned out to be especially handy given the car’s chunky rear end.
SMALL-ISH V8, BIG POWER
The Gran Coupe certainly lives up to the Ultimate Driving Machine tag line. The 650i is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 with direct injection and BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve timing. In plain English, that means 440 hp under the hood and 480 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
It’s a good thing the seats are so well cushioned because you’ll be well acquainted after stomping on the gas pedal and hitting 60 mph in just over 4 seconds.
Despite all that power, mileage is listed at a respectable 17/25 city/highway. Those figures are aided by the automatic start/stop feature, which shuts the engine off at stoplights. It’s a feature drivers can disable, but most probably won’t feel the need. And even if you do, it might be wise to think twice. BMW says the feature can return between 13 and 19 percent better fuel economy.
Fuel consumption is also affected by which driving mode the pilot picks. Those range from Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Eco Pro modes. The latter adjusts how the car reacts for better fuel economy. Other choices have a less environmentally minded approach albeit a much more engaging one.
Despite weighing over 4,400 lbs, it doesn’t feel hopelessly heavy in corners like you might expect, thanks in part to its progressive steering weight. A double-wishbone aluminum front and multi-link rear suspension kit help keep the 20-inch wheels firmly planted.
When tested, it delivered thrills on the Road America Race Course, while on the street delivered the comfort desired to chauffeur the family to church.
BIG PRICE, BUT IT’S ALL RELATIVE
The 650i Gran Coupe starts at $86,500 or $89,500 for the all-wheel drive version. But as usual with BMW, it would be more likely to see a unicorn in a dealer’s showroom than a base price car. For example, the AutoGuide test car had a 3 Series worth of options ($32,495 to be exact). Those option packages included the Cold Weather package, the Driver Assistance package, Luxury Seating package, M Sport package, Premium Sound package, as well as the Adaptive Drive, Active Steering, full LED lights, The White Wood Trim, the two-tone leather, and the special satin finish paint.
But most people seriously considering such a purchase probably feel comfortable with a $120,000 price tag, and this one will more than hold its own among the competition at this price or thousands more.
This is an outstanding four-place sport sedan that can be a thrilling ride if pushed hard on challenging roads, or a comfortably smooth luxo-cruiser for long highway stints. It’s chock full of electronic wizardry, luxury amenities and character. But as magical as that interior might feel, you’d better be sure to avoid that frozen paint — it’s sure to shatter the spell.