Test Drive: 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet

Driving a convertible in the winter months is a bit of a farce. I’m about as Canadian as they come (despite my mum’s UK genes creeping in occasionally), which means the idea of owning a drop-top is laughable in my mind. If we’re lucky, us Canadians get about 3-4 decent convertible-driving months. Unlike Californians who could spend 350 of the year’s 365 days with the roof down, we’d be lucky to get by with about 30 total … the return on investment just isn’t there for me. Especially when you take into consideration the damage heavy snow can do on a cloth-top, how most roadsters are rear-wheel drive, and the list of cons just goes on and on.

Canadians and convertibles just don’t go together. Or do they?

Enter the 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet.

Let’s deal with the beautifully sculpted and stunning elephant in the room first, shall we? Yes, this particular convertible starts at $111,500. Yup, that’s big bucks for a car you can really only fully enjoy for a few months of the year. Or can you?

I picked up my 650i Cab in the heart of winter. Temperatures were well below zero and heaps of snow were set to fall for my scheduled week. I considered rebooking the Bimmer so I could fully enjoy its drop-top ability in the glorious warm sunshine of summer, but then I thought; You know what? No, I want to prove that us Canadians can have and enjoy convertibles all year round.

If you hadn’t guessed it by now, I’m a bit pigheaded and I like a bit of a challenge. I also don’t like being told I can’t do something … I will prove you wrong.

That being said, I got behind the wheel of my $126k (as tested) BMW 650i Convertible and prepared to tackle snowy, slushy roads and hopefully drop the top at least once (seriously).

There’s absolutely no denying that the 650i Cab is gorgeous to look at. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of cloth-top convertibles as I find they cut the silhouette of a vehicle too severely, however, BMW designers managed around that flaw and somehow integrated the top perfectly into the sheet metal, maintaining the vehicle’s smooth, sexy body shape even with a cloth roof.

Fold that roof back (in just 19 seconds and up to speeds of 40km/h), and the overall shape remains pretty much intact, despite the gaping hole. So stunning is the shoulder-line and pronounced, proud snout of the 650i that it hardly needs a top at all to complete its look (not many can claim that feat…). For those wondering, the soft top folds neatly into the trunk taking up a fair amount of room, but being stored nicely and out of harm’s way. Glance around to the rear and you’re greeted with BMW’s signature step taillights and a handsome robust backside that also features quad exhaust tips hidden in two larger asymmetrical rectangular casings.

It’s all quite elegant and refined, with a touch of badassness I absolutely adore. Perhaps that’s what draws me to the 6 Series: Unlike the 5 Series that’s all business suit and proper proportions or the 7 Series that’s just pure opulence and over-the-top, the 650 is like a devilishly handsome man in a tailored suit, with a full-sleeve tattoo visible just at the cuff of his pressed white shirt…

Speaking of white, my particular tester was dressed up with a cream white leather interior. While that seems like a fabulous idea, stick a 5-year-old boy in the back and disaster is bound to strike. Thankfully, I remind (read: annoy) my child often enough not to touch expensive car interiors, so he was well aware of the rules. In fact, while driving one day he stated of his own accord, “Mummy, I don’t like this car.” Shocked, I questioned further as to where his dislike stemmed. His response? “I’m not allowed to touch anything in here.” With arms crossed and feet tucked in nicely.

Testing the 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet together

Bless, he does listen on occasion.

Besides the creamy white leather, the interior of the 2017 BMW 650i is stunning to behold and a very nice place to be. While some may see BMW interiors as tired and old, I welcome the familiarity and enjoy the centre stack layout and entertainment system. Oh, and that Bang & Olufsen sound system; absolutely fabulous. The acoustics with the top up or down are fantastic. Wood accents, ceramic and black panelling up the classiness, and everyone has a prime seat no matter if you’re in the front or back. Though I would highly recommend the driver’s seat.

Now, about that drive.

The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet houses a potent TwinPower Turbo 8-cylinder that produces 445 glorious ponies and 480 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission means controlling your own gear changes is a must, and so is selecting SPORT+ from the drive mode menu which also ensures glorious sounds emit from the specially tuned sport exhaust out the rear. Power is immediate and linear. The surge felt when you press your right foot down firmly is shocking at first then absolutely addictive. The 650i floats to speeds that will only serve to get you into trouble — but you’ll do them anyways.

Keep in mind, I wasn’t traversing desert roads and dry tarmac, I was surviving in snowstorm conditions with slushy, nasty, cold stuff all over the highways and side streets. But was I worried? Nope, not a bit. Why? Because the 650i is also equipped with BMW’s fantastic xDrive AWD system. Ensuring all four wheels are doing everything they can to keep you firmly planted on the path you’ve chosen is what this system does best. Of course, everything can be turned off and it can be made rear-wheel biased for some snow-covered street hooliganism… but you didn’t hear that from me.

The 650i is a big car, and yet it felt nimble and small and very easy to manipulate in a myriad of situations. BMW engineers ensured the car has a near 50/50 weight balance and it shows when cornering and in everyday situations. Even in downtown Montreal, in the snow, with the top down at midnight…

2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet
Price as tested: $126,800
Destination charges: $2,145
Configuration: Front-engine / AWD
Engine/transmission: TwinPower Turbo 5.0L 8-cylinder / 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission
Power/Torque: 445 hp / 480 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Premium (70L)
Competitors: Audi A7, Mercedes CLS Class, Porsche Panamera

Related links:
BMW Canada
CAR (Canadian Auto Review)

Translate »