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The Making of a Future Classic – BMW 645Ci

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Story by Trevor Hofmann

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Gorgeous… athletic… dramatic… muscular… all words that come close to describing BMW’s new 2+2. But words still can’t do justice to the artfully designed front fender vents, or the graceful lines that flow from the front headlight clusters, across the sculpted hood and then up and over the heavily raked A-pillars. Words can hardly intimate the rush of adrenaline that results from pressing right foot to the throttle, or the mind-boggling grip brought about by the 645’s combination of meaty performance tires, sophisticated suspension components, active steering geometry, and gravity defying dynamic drive technology. Yes, BMW has truly created something extremely special. Since first setting eyes upon the 645 Ci during its introduction in Malaga, Spain, to once again taking in its many complex curves under the showroom lights of Brian Jessel’s new 66,000 square foot state-of-theart BMW dealership at Lougheed and Boundary in Vancouver, it continues to stir up the emotional half of my soul. You see, I’ve been longing after a BMW coupe for as long as I’ve wanted a car, which is pretty well from my first year onwards.

The first 3.0 CS that caught my eye was at a used car dealer on Burrard and 2nd, Fjord Blue with dark blue leather hides, it was a sight to behold. The 630, 633, 635 and M6 models that came later set the luxury coupe benchmark for years to come, but no imitator managed to build a sporty two-door as elegantly styled and enjoyable to drive as BMW’s original 6. The new 645 Ci follows in this tradition. I coursed the Spanish mountains that surround the Mediterranean hotspot in all powertrain variations, which include one engine and three transmission choices. The 6-speed manual will forever be my favourite, but the car’s 6-speed automatic with Steptronic manual-mode is also an excellent gearbox, as is the paddle shift operated 6-speed SMG sequential manual. The opportunity to drive the 6 came again in and around Los Angeles, California the following year, at the North American introduction of the coupe and convertible model. Again, what a superb driver’s car; comfortable, precise, and wonderfully quick. 

While driving California’s circuitous roadways, trimmed with majestic palms framing glorious seascapes, is a memory forever etched into the recesses of my mind, I found tooling round Vancouver gave a better indication of the car’s overall livability. To this end the 645 Ci offers comfortable accommodations for two, while its rear seats are great for kids and useful to a couple of extra adults in a pinch. Trunk space is generous for this class of car, at 450 litres (15.9 cubic feet), making the 6 ideal for getting away from it all; luggage in tow. But truly, BMW’s new coupe wasn’t designed to be its most practical offering. It’s a statement of personal style, most likely complementing an X5 or 7 Series parked in the adjacent stall. While all of BMW’s vehicles are biased towards enthusiast driving, the coupe combines the compliant ride of a larger sedan with the handling prowess of a sports car. It’s not as edgy as a Porsche 911, per say, yet delivers performance that will have many a Carrera driver eating humble pie.

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Its design and overall execution, inside and out, is inspirational, with fine attention paid to the minutest details.

And that from a cabin which is both elegant, in a contemporary Germanic way, and expertly put together. BMW has long been a leader in fit, finish and materials quality, with the 6 portraying some of its best work to date. Most surfaces are soft to the touch, switchgear unsurpassed in its segment, and ergonomically it is as well laid out as cars get. To that end the seats are very supportive, with effective side bolsters and multiple adjustments. I played around with the car’s innovative iDrive infotainment system, which is much improved over the system I initially tested in the 7, and once again found it easy to operate after spending a little time getting acclimatized.

For those who don’t like knobs and buttons, all you have to do is tell it what to do verbally after pressing the voice command button on the steering wheel. It follows orders well, and simplifies operating the car’s various systems so that you can get onto the job at hand, driving. Now that we’re talking both driving and technical innovations, the 6 offers a plethora of engineering firsts to enhance time spent behind the wheel.

One of my favourite new duos is active steering and dynamic drive. Essentially active steering adapts the steering ratio to vehicle speed, but its electric motor assisted, planetary gear motivated rack-and-pinion system is much more sophisticated than conventional speed sensitive steering systems, common to most luxury cars. When parking, steering response to input is much quicker, at about 1.7 turns lock to lock. At high speed, that ratio relaxes significantly to allow incredible stability. Dynamic drive effectually flattens out curves, adjusting to road surface imperfections before the actual bumps and dips occur.

The 645 Ci’s ride is not only smoother than rival sport coupe’s, but its handling is also much improved. Power comes by way of BMW’s sensational 32-valve, dual-overhead cam, 4.4L V8, producing a lusty 325-horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. While quick blasts to highway speeds were great fun in Vancouver, it was during my previous drive through Spain that I learned exactly how well the 6 performs at high-speed. It remains level to the ground, totally stable and totally in control no matter the velocity.

Only a particularly slick stretch of rain-soaked, polished pebble roadway caused any stability problems, and then the 6’s various electronic driver aids, such as Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control, and Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), quickly took over to thwart any potential trouble. I also took the opportunity to test out BMW’s Active Cruise Control (ACC), which maintained a safe distance from all cars ahead, and found the 645’s head-up display (HUD), which projects important information on the lower corner of the windscreen, quite useful as well.

The car’s LOGIC7 audio system is amazing, making symphonic music sound better than when taking in the VSO at the Orpheum – less coughing from spectators I suppose. The new 645 Ci is a significant improvement over any previous BMW coupe. Its design and overall execution, inside and out, is inspirational, with fine attention paid to the minutest of details, all in an effort to make its ownership experience second to none. The only way to appreciate the new 6 is to drive it, as mere words can hardly replicate the pleasure it brings.

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