Low flying luxury craft

There are few better cars to impress, and be impressed with, than the BMW 650i convertible.

Vikrant Singh | Print Edition: October 19, 2008

As motorists in India, we are accustomed to a few things— persistent but unnecessary honking, trucks barrelling down in your direction on your side of a fourlaned road, and being bumped around in bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic for no apparent reason. We are also quite used to potholed roads, towering speed breakers and in my particular case—pointlessly steep parking ramps at both home and work. Need-less to say, cars with good ground clearance are a must in India.

BMW 650i
BMW 650i
So, imagine my surprise, when this whale of a car rolls in with a price tag of a diamond necklace fit enough to embellish a queen’s slender neck, but with a ground clearance to shame your television trolley. Little surprise, it refused to climb the ramps without the fear of losing its front bumper with an accompanying grounding noise, meaning I had to leave this expensive machinery out on the road, under the blistering sun, and in the midst of manic motorists, snorting bulls and peeing strays, and, of course, me by the side like a dedicated chaperon.

It’s established then—the BMW 650i doesn’t come with the practicality (or the peace of mind) of your everyday affordable car. But then, it isn’t as staid to look at either—it’s a convertible, and a delightful looking one at that. The immaculate blend of convex and concave surfaces that define its design, along with the long hood and stubby boot and the low slung stance, give it the presence of a rock star. So much so, that you begin to feel embarrassed by the attention showered by all and sundry.

Rock star presence: With a low-slung stance
Then, there’s the sound. Not of high-end in-car entertainment system, mind you, but the snarl of an equally entertaining but highly potent beast lurking under the hood of the 650i. The beast in question is a massive 4.8-litre V8 with 360 bhp and almost 500 Nm of torque; that’s enough fire power to stun your brain, irreparably, into a trance.

Comfort zone: Interiors are plush and seating accommodating
It gets to 100 kmph in just over 6 seconds, which is just enough to keep your head and back pinned to the seat nice and proper. You also have to be really careful with that throttle, because every time to touch it with vigour, the 650 lurches ahead with the ferocity of a woman-deprived sailor; as if it were taken in by the rear end of the car upfront.

Fasten your seatbelts: That’s 0-100 kmph in six seconds flat
For all its sportscar-like attitude, the 650 is surprisingly comfortable. The seats are plush and accommodating, and so is the ride quality. It is pretty quiet too on the inside, till you get that roof down, that is. Once the soft-top roof is packed away neatly in the boot, the world around you changes quite dramatically; that there’s little between you and the environment is stimulating enough, but then the exhaust note amplifies to intoxicating levels, and, of course, you have everyone from the Sumo driver to the hot-shot honcho in a 7-series giving you the appreciative nod.

And, as for the low ground clearance woes—well, we did manage to take it to the foothills of the Himalayas, over badly broken tarmac without a single underbelly scrape. Brilliant.

Specifications engine

4.8-litre, V8
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Max power 360 bhp
Max torque 488 Nm
0-100 KMPH
6.6 seconds
Top speed 250 kmph
Price Rs 90 lakh (ESTIMATED)

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