Motor mouth: BMW 650i SE

BMW's 650i SE could be the ultimate iPhone accessory, but only if it wasn't so thirsty.

by Sathnam Sanghera
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The most common reaction of people who sat in the driving seat of this car in order to admire the colour head-up display, which projects your speed, satnav instructions - and the speed limit - onto the windscreen, was: 'Coo, I feel like I'm in Top Gun.' But, to be honest, I spent most of my week in this convertible feeling as if I was in another Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report.

If you recall, the Spielberg flick featured lots of futuristic technology such as gesture-based computer interfaces and identity-detecting advertisement cameras, which seemed impossible at the time, but are now becoming a reality. And, similarly, the new 6 Series is packed with gadgetry that, at first, seems fictional. Things like the camera in the arch ahead of the front wheel which lets you nudge out of a blind junction; or the park assist function which uses ultrasonic sensors to measure the length of possible parking spaces next to the road at a speed of up to 20 mph; or the dashboard graphic which somehow provides a bird's-eye view of the car, as if you have a camera hovering above you.

And then there's the facility for BlackBerry users to access their emails and have them read out aloud using a text-to-speech function. I bet as many people will buy this car for the seamless way it syncs with BlackBerries and iPhones as for its elegant and powerful topless performance.

However, there is one rather basic piece of technology that lets it down: the 407 bhp engine. It's big, smooth and quiet and takes you to 60 mph in just five seconds and is much more efficient than its predecessor. But with petrol prices hitting such highs, a day trip to Cambridge ended up costing me almost as much as a degree from there would have.

If oil prices keep rising, it will soon make sense for the likes of BP and Shell to start giving away cars like the 650i in the way that companies give away printers, mobile phones and shaving equipment. I suspect that when the turbo-diesel version arrives in the autumn, which accounted for 75% of previous 6 Series sales, it will be pushing five stars. I loved the last version, but in this form, like Tom Cruise's performance in Days of Thunder, I can give it only three.

3 OUT OF 5

SPECIFICATION
BMW 650i SE Convertible
£73,470
Engine: 4.4-litre V8, twin-turbo, petrol
Power: 407 bhp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 442 lb/ft @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 26.4 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 249 g/km
0-62 mph: 5 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph (limited)

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