Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Test Drive III: BMW 650i

I finally did it.

After thinking about it all summer long, I test drove a BMW 650i. Man, I don't know why I waited so long!

I made the arrangements last Thursday, driving up to Tischer BMW and sitting down with a sales guy for a few minutes. I just wanted to get everything in order so that I could come in on the morning of Saturday 20 October, do my drive, and bail. So all of that got worked out. Then I called on Friday to confirm that everything was in order. Since my sales guy - Andy - wasn't available, I spoke to Rick, the sales manager. Nice enough guy. He confirmed that the black on black 650i coupe with automatic transmission and the Sport package was going to be ready for 10 am today. Check.

(Before you purists go off, I think I said somewhere that I am still learning to drive stick, and I didn't feel like doing my first paddle shifter on a test drive in a $75,000 automobile. Get over it.)

So I roll up to Tischer today at 5 minutes after 10:00 am, and find my sales guy again. Good guy. West Indian. I want to say Trinidadian, but that's not relevant here. Andy gets the car prepped, takes my license to make a copy, and gives me the quick tour of the vehicle controls. My roommate came along for the ride, because experiences like this should be shared in my opinion. She played with iDrive; I played with the V-8.

So we meander out of the parking lot, and I immediately gun it. Schweet! Power on demand is a beautiful thing. So we jump on Route 29 north, merge into traffic, and once I get some open road I hit it again. I love the responsiveness of this car! So after crossing into Howard County, I find some open road on 29 and hit it. In no time, we're doing 111, and it feels like the world is standing still. I mean, you don't even notice the acceleration due to the amount of power available. Hitting 85 in this car damn near makes you feel like the engine is off. But now its time to reign it in a bit, because I'm coming on a new speed trap, so I ease down, come over the hill and...nothing...so I hit it again to merge back toward the right.

Coming up next is MD Route 32, which I jump on heading east, and pull over in a parking lot to trade seats with my roommate. After playing with the seating controls for about 10 minutes, she gets everything positioned just so and we're on the road again. Being her first time behind the wheel of a car with this much power, she's a bit intimidated. The necessary touch to do anything - activate turn signals, give the engine burst of gas - is so demure that even she is surprised. So we get back on to 32 east and she promptly tries to run a Honda Accord off the road. Fuck! After we get past that situation, she navigates us on to 95 South and heads for the left lane.

So after a nice leisurely jaunt down 95 at about 85 or so (which positively feels like the engine is turned off if not for the trees and other cars being passed), we get back on 495 and come off at New Hampshire Avenue to trade spots again. I take over and head up NH to some back roads. Too bad that all morning the roads were crowded with people. The best part was the Toyota Highlander who kept trying to keep up with me. I love fuckin' with these guys. Reel him in a bit, then gun it and embarrass him. I could do that all day, I swear! The same thing happened the first time I helmed this ship earlier in the morning. When will these guys learn!?!? It was like everyone thinks they're driving a frickin' Maserati when they see you coming, and wants to race. Guys, either I'm chillaxin', not thinking about your dumb ass, or I'm going to (and did) smoke you like a Cuban cigar. There's no middle ground, so get over yourselves.

Anyway, we take the back roads back to Tischer then drop the car off and leave. On the last leg, I activated Sport mode and all I can say about that is "Whoa!" With Sport mode on, the road feel is much more eagerly transmitted back to the car and the acceleration is ridiculous. Jumping into traffic in Sport mode was the one time I felt that the car slightly got away from me, but I recovered control immediately and took us back in.

Overall, I think we were out for about 45 or 50 minutes. A short and simple yet hugely worthwhile experience in The Ultimate Driving Machine. I think that description can safely be applied to the 650i, no holds barred.

I'll admit that the 650i was a hugely enjoyable drive. Not only was the giddy up flatly amazing, but its an extremely comfortable car. It is definitely pure GT driving fantasy. I can definitely see the 6 series as my everyday ride, just as long as I don't have to move passengers from point A to point B. Unless those fools fit in the trunk, there's no room for them. I'd hate to be the poor bastard rising in the limited back seat, my knees in my throat as the countryside roared past. There are worst places on Earth to be, but not too many, I imagine.

Anyway, until next time...

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