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BMW showcases Bang & Olufsen in new 650i Gran Coupe

Design details, such as anodized speaker grilles and special color schemes, highlight the audio system in the special edition BMW 650i Gran Coupe.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read
BMW Bang & Olufsen edition
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

BMW Bang & Olufsen edition
BMW designed a special edition 6-series Gran Coupe to highlight the Bang & Olufsen audio option. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Most people enjoy listening to music while driving, but some really, really love it. Hearing cymbals crash in a shimmering wave or the lonely, clear bell tones of a solo electric guitar can reach right down into your soul. It is for these people that Bang & Olufsen engineers the audio systems it builds into models by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

BMW is highlighting the Bang & Olufsen audio system offered as an option in its cars with special edition 650i Gran Coupe and M6 Gran Coupe models. The 6-series Gran Coupe is BMW's four-door version of its 6-series model, and it's a stunning design. These models can be optioned up with 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system using seven tweeters, seven midrange speakers, and two subwoofers.

BMW Bang & Olufsen edition
The Bang & Olufsen system's acoustic lens automatically rises up from the dashboard. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

At the Pebble Beach Automotive Weekend, BMW displayed an example of the Bang & Olufsen Edition 650i Gran Coupe. This was one of only 100 cars that will be offered in this edition. BMW will also build 10 Bang & Olufsen Edition M6 models.

The car on display showed off the black and white color scheme, with its Dark Graphite II Metallic exterior body color contrasted by white leather on the interior. Customers can also get the reverse, with a white exterior and black leather interior. Bang & Olufsen was spelled out in letters inset into the wood trim cupholder cover, while the speaker grilles used a dark anodized finish, as opposed to the silver of the typical Bang & Olufsen audio option.

There is no audio upgrade for the Bang & Olufsen system in the special-edition cars, just the opportunity for owners to emphasize the current system with the new design details. The standard system's acoustic lens, which rises up from the dashboard, shows off the system pretty well on its own.

BMW Bang & Olufsen edition
Lettering on the cupholder cover highlights the Bang & Olufsen audio system. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The listening experience in the special edition 6-series was phenomenal. A mix CD provided by Bang & Olufsen highlighted the system's strong bass and crystal-clear highs. Switching to a copy of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," the first crescendo on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was nearly heart-stopping, and the system brought out instruments and sounds that would be buried by lesser systems.

The Bang & Olufsen system requires very good quality audio sources, as it will highlight all the flaws in compressed tracks. A Bang & Olufsen representative on hand mentioned that the company "aims for accuracy" with its technology. The differences between a track compressed to 256 kbps variable bit rate and the same track at 320 kbps were noticeable.

The BMW 650i Bang & Olufsen Edition costs $116,240, while the M6 version runs $152,423. UK and Australian prices for the special edition were not available, but a 650i M Sport Gran Coupe with B&O audio will set you back from £79,885. In Australia, the 650i Coupe starts at around AU$250,000.