BMW’s Big Coupe

2012 Lexus BMW 650i.

There’s something really cool and devil-may-care about driving a coupe. You could be saying, “I prefer style over practicality.” Or, you could be saying, “I don’t have to carry other people, and I bought this car for me.” Or perhaps a combination of the two, if not other reasons.

There was a time when you could get a two-door version of almost any car line on the road. Look at General Motors in the 1970s. From the base Chevrolet Vega economy car to the most fully-loaded Cadillac Eldorado, two-door cars or coupes (and yes, I know the two terms are not always interchangeable, but for the sake of argument we’ll put them in the same category) ran the gamut of the auto world.

Today it’s much different. You can’t buy a two-door in most of the mainstream compacts or mid-sizers, though the Honda Civic and Accord and the Nissan Altima are some exceptions. Chevy Cruze? Nope. Ford Focus? Again, negative. Toyota Corolla? No, not for many years. Camry? Toyota hasn’t made a coupe of that one since the early 1990s. And the Toyota Celica was euthanized some years ago.

No, if you do want a car with two doors, your selections are somewhat limited these days. Two categories where they still exist are sporty cars and luxury cars. How about a sporty car and a luxury car all in one? Well, I found one. It’s the 2012 BMW 6-series.

Large, comfy two-door Bimmers have a long heritage, essentially going back to the “batwing” CS models of the ‘70s. That car begat the 6-Series of ’77 to ’89, followed by the 8-Series, which then gave way to a resurrection of the 6-Series in 2004. Now, we get a follow-up to that model, the new 640i and 650i that debuted this past year, first in convertible and then in coupe form.

Sure, BMW has other two-doors, starting with the pint-sized 1-Series. In the middle is the vaunted 3-Series coupe, which has been the poster child for trust-fund-backed college students and junior law partners for over 30 years.

But the larger 6-Series is more expensive, more exclusive, and more of a showcase of technology. The engines get a bit of a high-tech makeover, with a six cylinder engine providing base level power for the first time in many years (in the U.S. anyway). With an eye toward fuel efficiency and carbon output, the 640i is motivated by an inline six with twin turbochargers that produces a smooth 315 horsepower.

Of course there’s an eight available in the car as well. The 650i carries BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4 liter aluminum V8, which puts out an even 400 horsepower and will take the big coupe to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds. With the 650i you can also go full-on sporty with a 6-speed manual transmission. An 8-speed automatic is standard with both the 640i and 650i.

The buyer of either 6-Series coupe will want for nothing as far as features go. One hallmark of the interior is that the large LCD screen is not recessed into the dashboard as in most cars, but proudly jutting out of the top like an iPad or a flat panel television. Gizmos abound, especially if you start checking option boxes.

I spent a week in a 650i with the 6-speed manual transmission and it was as loaded up as they come. Two really nice options of note were the multiple cameras (one in the rear, one in each side mirror, and one in each front fender) to aid in backing and parking, and full LED headlights with adaptive motion, which turns the lights in the direction the steering wheel is turned.

This isn’t an inexpensive car by any means. The 640i starts at $73,600, while the 650i will bend its buyers’ wallets to the tune of $83,000. Once the option packages start getting tallied, it’s easy to push the bottom line well into the $90,000 range and beyond.

But if you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose the new BMW 6-Series, you’ll have a great driving car with all the latest technology. You’ll also have the ability to say, “I bought this car to be stylish, and not necessarily practical.”

I’ll see you down the road.

Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7 and can be heard on “The Car Show” Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM. E-mail Dave at TVCarz @ pacbell.net Twitter: @dave_kunz

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