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

BMW 650i SE Convertible
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)

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Leadership lessons from Jürgen Klopp

The Liverpool manager exemplifies ‘the long win’, based not on results but on clarity of...

How to get a grip on stress

Once a zebra escapes the lion's jaws, it goes back to grazing peacefully. There's a...

A leadership thought: Treat your colleagues like customers

One minute briefing: Create a platform where others can see their success, says AVEVA CEO...

The ignominious death of Gordon Gekko

Profit at all costs is a defunct philosophy, and purpose a corporate superpower, argues this...

Gender bias is kept alive by those who think it is dead

Research: Greater representation of women does not automatically lead to equal treatment.

What I learned leading a Syrian bank through a civil war

Louai Al Roumani was CFO of Syria's largest private retail bank when the conflict broke...