2008 BMW 6 Series Review
By KBB.com Editors
What's New for 2008
High-powered, high-profile and highly desirable, the 2008 BMW 650i makes an exclusive statement in a very exclusive realm. While a few of its styling details may be open to some rather heated debate, there's no denying that this 2+2 offers a stunning driving experience for those who can afford its price of entry. A potent V8 engine, superbly responsive chassis and exceptional amenities make it a serious competitor to prestige coupes from Jaguar, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, in many cases delivering more absolute performance for considerably less money when comparably equipped.
You'll Like This Car If...
If the exhilarating rush of a big V8-powered coupe or convertible that handles with the confidence of a world-class GT car sets your sporting senses tingling, you'll love the 2008 BMW 650i. A choice of manual or automatic transmissions, exceptional interior amenities and desirable options should please even the most demanding enthusiast.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Those who find fault with the styling of the 650i's rear quarters, or who are put off by the complexity of its iDrive system -- that integrates control of the audio, ventilation, navigation and communication functions -- might want to consider a Jaguar XK or Porsche 911 Carrera S. If you're looking for a more usable back seat, the Mercedes-Benz CLK550 would be a better choice.
The 6 Series receives a modest exterior freshening, with a new grille and front end, as well as new headlight lenses with LED turn signals and power-folding mirrors. Interior changes include a revised iDrive with six programmable memory buttons, while models equipped with the Sport Automatic receive steering-wheel paddle shifters. Dynamic Cruise Control is made standard while the Lane Departure Warning System is added to the option list.
Driving the 6 Series
The 2008 BMW 650i shares basic chassis elements with the 5 Series Sedan, but its 4.3-inch shorter wheelbase and slightly wider rear track dimension add an extra measure...
of agility and surefootedness, while a host of computerized "active" control elements -- from stability to traction to the anti-roll bars themselves -- ensures it maintains that superb composure on virtually any kind of road. Although the suspension is tuned more for control than pure comfort, the 650i is still a first-rate cruiser. The silky 360-horsepower V8 takes it from zero to 60 mph in just about 5.5 seconds, regardless of whether it's backed by the conventional six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic.
Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go
The 6 Series' available radar-based cruise control will detect a slower-moving vehicle ahead and reduce speed accordingly. New for this year, the system will slow the car to a complete stop, enabling use in stop-and-go traffic.
6-speed Sport Automatic Transmission
We especially like this new faster-shifting automatic, which includes paddle shifters and rev matching for smooth downshifts.
2008 BMW 6 Series Details
Comfort and convenience touches abound inside the 650i Coupe and Convertible, headed by its well-contoured power bucket seats and on-board computer and navigation system. Standard Dakota leather upholstery is set off with high-tech Pearl-gloss Ruthenium accent trim, but BMW offers Dark or Light Birch wood as no-charge alternatives for buyers with more traditional tastes. Even with its rakish roofline, the 650i has sufficient room for taller drivers up front, although some may find that the steering wheel rim obscures the tops of the gauge faces, even when adjusted to its full-up position. Rear seats are typical 2+2 fare -- scaled strictly for kids, and smaller ones at that.
One of the most expressively styled BMWs, the 650i maintains the long, low nose and short rear-deck treatments that have characterized other classic coupes and convertibles from this marque, but incorporates lots of aluminum and thermoplastic panels to help reduce weight. Its laid-back windshield and sweeping roofline are smartly complemented by bold fender flares that add to the aggressive character. The Convertible distinguishes itself with a fully-lined one-touch power top and power-retractable back glass element. Although the 650i's tail treatment and trunk lid remain points of minor controversy for some, its overall visual impact -- especially when fitted with the optional Sport Package that bumps the wheel and tire fitment from 18-inch to 19-inch alloy rims with even larger, lower-profile tires -- is undeniably impressive.
The 2008 BMW 650i's standard features include a dual automatic climate control system, DVD-based navigation with iDrive integrated controller, a multifunction steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering column, programmable keyless remote entry, corner-following xenon Adaptive Headlights, Adaptive Brake Lights (that indicate your stopping intensity to vehicles following behind), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), electronically-modulated Active Roll Stabilization, Dynamic Driving Control (that quickens throttle and shift responses), advanced anti-lock brakes, run-flat tires and a no-charge choice between a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Dual front and front-side airbags, BMW's Head Protection System and Active Knee Protection airbags are also standard equipment.
Owners can personalize the 650i with Active Steering (that makes it easier to maneuver in confined areas and adds more confident feel at higher speeds), Comfort Access automatic locking and unlocking, distance-maintaining Active Cruise Control, a premium Logic7 Surround Sound audio system, High Definition Radio, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Head-Up Display and thermal imaging Night Vision. A Cold Weather Package (heated front seats and steering wheel and a ski bag) and a Sport Package (19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, sport bucket seats with adjustable thigh support and Shadowline exterior trim) also are available.
Under the Hood
The 2008 BMW 650i's all-aluminum 4.8-liter V8 makes an outstanding 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. It incorporates both variable valve timing and variable valve lift to help optimize performance throughout a wide rev range, delivering super-quick response and respectable fuel economy with either of the available six-speed transmissions. Near-silent at idle, the engine emits a beautifully rich and throaty roar at full throttle, thanks in part to a movable element in the exhaust system that imparts an edgier character to the sound under higher load conditions. For maximum enthusiast appeal, the electronically-controlled automatic also offers racing-style, steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.
360 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
360 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (Coupe, manual), 15/23 (Coupe, automatic), 14/21 (Convertible, manual), 15/23 (Convertible, automatic)
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