For 2006, the BMW 6 Series coupe and cabriolet models receive a new 4.8-litre, 360 hp V8 engine that replaces the 4.4-litre, 325 hp engine of 2005. Because of this, the model designation changes to 650i, replacing 2005’s 645i.

Other changes include a start/stop ignition button that it shares with the 7 Series, a revised iDrive controller, and extended functions on the Dynamic Stability Control. These include hill-start assist, which avoids roll-back; brake standby, to reduce stopping distances in an emergency; brake drying; fade compensation, which maintains performance when the brakes are hot; and smoother stops with reduced brake dive.

Features on both the Coupe and Cabriolet include a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic with Steptronic manual mode is a no-charge option), front and rear ventilated brake discs, speed-sensitive steering, adaptive automatic Xenon headlights, fog lights, tire pressure warning system, rain-sensing wipers with heated washer nozzles, alarm with interior motion sensor, auto-dimming exterior and rearview mirrors, three-spoke leather-wrapped heated steering wheel with electric tilt and telescopic, automatic air conditioning, ambiance lighting, power sunroof, twelve-way power heated front seats, three-position driver memory seat, universal garage door opener, CD/MP3 player with eight speakers and two subwoofers, BMW Assist, navigation system and voice control system. The Cabriolet includes a power-operated roof.

The 650i maintains a delicate balance, its brute strength tempered by superb driving dynamics and a high level of cabin luxury. It shares the same basic lightweight aluminum suspension as the 5 and 7 Series, and can be optioned with Active Steering, which increases or decreases steering rotation depending on speed. This makes it more nimble at lower speeds, and more responsive at higher; given the car’s size, the somewhat artificial feel of the steering at lower speeds is offset by ease of handling in tight quarters. The standard Active Roll Stabilization consists of anti-roll bars linked with a hydraulic motor, which twist to offset any body roll.

The seating position is designed for taller drivers, and shorter buyers may prefer the automatic transmission simply for ergonomics, since the clutch is a long way off. The rear seat is pretty much designed for people with no legs; consider the 650i a 2+2 model. The edgy styling is not to all tastes, but the overall package is one of world-class performance matched to high-end luxury.

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