BMW launches the 650i Cabriolet, with the bigger picture in mind

The BMW 650i Cabriolet has been launched in New Zealand—Jack Yan flew to Auckland for a very exclusive presentation

BMW 650i Cabriolet
BMW 650i Cabriolet
BMW 650i Cabriolet
BMW 650i Cabriolet
BMW 650i Cabriolet launch lunch

March 15, and New Zealand was already enjoying the launch of the BMW 6-series Cabriolet—mere weeks after the official global launch. From memory, this was the quickest New Zealand launch for any car, if one measures the weeks after a global launch. That includes certain Australian models.
   To make it extra-special, Lucire was one of six publications invited to the exclusive launch of the car at BMW HQ in Auckland.
   And what a fantastic vehicle. The 650i—the lesser 640i won’t be brought in at this stage—is the epitome of V8-powered, top-down motoring. While cars like the Aston Martin V8 Vantage come to mind, the 650i blends the everyday usability that its 5er platform brings with an added dose of glamour.
   The eight-speed gearbox shifts quickly, and the 650i reaches the legal limit without fuss. At its handling limit, it could prove slightly tricky.
   Handling is what one would expect from a car based on the 5er-Reihe: very nimble, feeling like a smaller car. It doesn’t feel heavier, either.
   The front wings and bootlid are plastic, though one can see no difference in their finish compared with the metal panels. The SMC boot’s material won’t interfere with radio reception—which means that BMW doesn’t need aerials on the car that would clutter up its lines.
   Down the back, the rear-view camera is hidden behind the BMW badge.
   The interior is unique to the 6er, with the 10·8-inch iDrive screen permanently visible. The Bluetooth connection even allows for internet radio to be broadcast, while an Iphone app permits the driver to continue the sat-nav to the planned destination even after the car has been parked. It will allow for two phone pairings.
   As a style proposition, the 650i Cabriolet oozes glamour and is a huge jump style-wise from its predecessor, which wouldn’t win any beauty awards.
   I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as a Car to Be Seen in 2011 contender.
   I know we live in more environmentally sensitive times, but the distinct feel and sound of a petrol V8 is still very satisfying.
   BMW is well aware of this, too. Mark Gilbert, MD of the New Zealand operation, emphasized BMW’s overall reduction in carbon emissions across its fleet, which was very respectable.
   Of course there’s more work to do from all car makers globally, but getting the average to 184·5 g/km of carbon dioxide is nothing to be sneezed at. That’s not counting BMW’s Mini brand, which averaged 147 g/km.
   Gilbert stressed that BMW began on this path under the previous Labour Government, which had set a threshold for 2015 of 170 g/km.
   It’s also been a strong year for the Müncheners with an 8 per cent rise in sales last year compared to 2009.
   Gilbert made mention of the i sub-brand, covered here at Lucire on launch day, and its alternative drivetrains.
   It was quite different from most launches: while BMW was obviously keen to push the new 650i to an exclusive group of journalists, it didn’t forget the bigger picture that the automotive industry must face. There was a lot more optimism in the air thanks to the possibilities i would bring.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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