2012 BMW 650i Coupe review: Practicality is overrated…but the 650i isn’t

2012 BMW 650i Coupe

2012 BMW 650i Coupe

Practicality is highly overrated.  So is reasonableness and being logical. Because if one were serious about the transportation of human beings, one could move more for less than the $100,825 price sticker on our test 2012 BMW 650i Coupe. Or even, by eliminating all the optional extras, a mere $83,000.

But the 650i Coupe isn’t about being reasonable. It’s an indulgence.

Indeed, the front seats are posh but supportive, with generous leg room, elbow room and headroom. But the rear seat, though neatly contoured into twin bum pockets, defines two-plus-two as really more like two-plus-two-times-point-seven-five. An adult of even less than average stature faces a choice: bump his (or her) pate on the overhead, or slouch and have the seat belt ride too high across the abdomen for safety.

2012 BMW 650i Coupe dash

2012 BMW 650i Coupe dash

And at that, the 2012 BMW 650i Coupe has the overall length of a minivan.

The Bimmer coupe, debuting a new generation for 2012, is powered by BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. While engine is a marvel of efficiency for the power it produces—400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque—it’s obviously more than one needs for basic transportation.

The engine is BMW’s unusual “reverse flow” design. Instead of the typical intake-between-the-banks of the vee and exhaust to the outside, the BMW 4.4-liter parks its two turbochargers in the valley between the banks, spinning them with the exhaust from the inside valves. According to BMW, the short run from cylinder to turbine results in a faster turbo spool-up and greater responsiveness. The engine also has direct injection, responsible in part for the engine’s performance as well as low emissions numbers.

2012 BMW 650i Coupe driver seat

The front seats of the 2012 BMW 650i Coupe are cushy, supportive and multiadjustable.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, which contributes to cleaner, more efficient performance, and indeed, according to BMW, the 2012 BMW 650i Coupe sprints from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

With that said, the 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway fuel economy (we achieved 18.5 mpg and 17.6 mpg with consecutive tankfuls of mixed driving) is wholly respectable. Certainly on the highway one could record fuel use closer to the EPA highway estimate, but in day-in day-out driving, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo simply responds to well to the throttle pedal for one to not to indulge oneself on a regular basis. Entertaining…but not the soul of practicality.

Nor is cargo capacity. Compared to the two or three minivans one could acquire for the cost of our BMW 650i Coupe, the coupe’s trunk, at 16.5 cubic feet, is ridiculously small. On the other hand, for touring for two, there’s more volume than any reasonable pair of passengers should require. It’s at least practical in its impracticality.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.