BMWs in general are wonderful cars to drive, with impressive power and great handling which doesn’t compromise the smooth ride. This 650i Convertible that I’m driving is no exception to that. Its got 360 horsepower, a 6-speed manual transmission and big grippy tires. And surprisingly, given the latest BMW designs, this car actually looks good.
The convertible top works very well, can even be operated at low speeds. The rear window powers up or down so it can be lowered with the top in place for nice ventilation, or left up when the top is down to act as an air deflector. At high speeds, with all the windows up, the wind barely rustles your hair.
So what’s not to like? In a word, its I-Drive. I-Drive is BMW’s system of using a single knob to access all of the standard driver controls, including ventilation, navigation, audio system, etc… I-Drive turns the ultimate driving machine into the ultimate annoyance.
It took me two days to figure out how to adjust the base on the stereo, and its at least three menus into the system. Changing stations is just as difficult, although I think there is a way to change them via steering wheel controls.
Everytime I got into the car, I would set it to "Sport" mode (tightens the suspension, improves steering response), I would turn off the stability control, set the navigation screen and trip computer screen the way I want them, and if it was raining, I would turn on the automatic wipers. After shutting the car off and returning later, I would have to do all of this over again. Extremely frustrating.
There is no reason I can see for this complicated way of accomplishing simple tasks like adjusting audio controls except for the fact that they had the technology to set it up this way. Technology for technology’s sake is not useful.
The 650 I was driving runs about $85,000. As much as I love driving this car, the annoying I-Drive would make me look for an alternative.