But the navigation system is where we saw real improvement in the 650i Convertible over the previous model year. The maps, stored on a hard drive, show nice detail, and the 3D map includes topographical features and renderings of major landmarks. The system responds quickly to button input, although that's never really been a problem with BMW navigation systems.
Entering addresses can be a little tedious using the iDrive controller, as it uses a rotary paradigm for alphanumeric input. But its predictive input speeds up the process, narrowing down the choices as it runs each input against its database. The system also offers easy-to-follow route guidance, although it doesn't read out street names. Traffic is integrated with the system, and it will dynamically route around the worst traffic congestion when a destination has been entered.
A Bluetooth phone system comes standard with the car. We had no difficulty pairing an iPhone with it and, as we've seen in previous BMW models, it downloaded the phone's contact list, making it available on the car's LCD. This system is good, but is quickly getting outstripped by other manufacturers such as Ford, Kia, and Lexus that offer voice command systems that can dial contacts by name.
The 650i Convertible's hard-drive-based navigation system makes space available for music ripped from CDs in the car, with a library browsable by artist, album, and other ID3 tag information. That is similar to the car's iPod integration, which also works well. The interface for iPod integration is just a little more complex than it needs to be, requiring a few extra controller actions to get music playing. Satellite radio is also offered, of course, and HD radio is standard.
Typical with BMWs, the audio system produces very strong, well-amplified audio. But some of the nuance gets lost among all the fury, as this bass-oriented system drowns out the more delicate highs. This 650i Convertible included the optional upgraded audio system, using 13 speakers, including one center channel and two subs. BMW is one of the few companies to include a real equalizer with its stereo, so some of our criticism about the loss of nuance might be correctable by fine-tuning the seven frequency bands.
BMWs don't generally let us down with the driving experience, and the 2010 BMW 650i Convertible was no exception. But it's a big, powerful car, and opportunities to really throw it around are rare. We would also like to see it updated with BMW's new line of turbocharged engines, which might get it a couple of extra miles per gallon. Cabin tech is very good, especially considering the available driver assistance features. However, we would like a more comprehensive voice command system, along with blind-spot detection. Design is the biggest letdown with the 650i Convertible. The iDrive interface is a big improvement, but the exterior is still in need of attention. For the 100 grand an optioned-up 650i Convertible goes for, the is the more stylish choice.
|Model||2010 BMW 650i Convertible|
|EPA fuel economy||15 mpg city/23 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||18.3 mpg|
|Navigation||Standard hard drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible single CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||HD radio, satellite radio, USB drive, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Optional Harmon Kardon Logic7 13 speaker stereo|
|Driver aids||Sonar parking sensors, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, night vision system, head-up display|
|Price as tested||$92,670|