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LIFESTYLE: Motoring – Opulence and flair

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BMW’s extravagant 650i Gran Coupé – the best four-door sports coupé yet?

This is the first four-door sports coupé from BMW. The combination of a coupé and four doors is somewhat of an oxymoron, given that these features are not typically encountered in the same class of vehicle, but BMW has entered the foray, and like its competitors, has produced an interpretation of the four-door sports coupé.

This car is based on the 6-series coupé, with added wheel-base, roofline and the additional two doors. The vehicle has retained its silhouette which is one of the outstanding features on this Beemer.

The car still features a relatively elongated bonnet with squared off oval LED lights and a rather wide trademark BMW kidney grill. This, together with the chiselled bumper, gives the car a rather aggressive and sporty look. From the side view, you realise just how big the car actually is. From both the front and rear view of the car, the additional two doors tend to go unnoticed. The rear end is very similar to the twodoor version, with the one differentiating factor being an LED brake light that stretches the length of the rear window.

Opening the front door provides access to sheer opulence and grand design. The perfectly sculpted seats and the leather-bound dashboard complete the aesthetic of the cabin in typical BMW style. The front seat design is taken directly from the two-door model, including the controls on the top that allow you to move the seat forward and back depending on the amount of rear leg room required.

There is sufficient leg and head room in the rear for a person of average height. What is interesting though, is that the car is equipped with three seat belts in the rear even though the centre console stretches from behind the i-drive controller all the way to the rear seat. This means that any person sitting in the middle will have one foot on each side of the console, making longer journeys a bit uncomfortable. As for the rest of the seats, the sensation is that of absolute pleasure.

The BMW 650i Gran Coupé car is already unique, but to customise it further, there are various colour options for you to choose from, for the exterior as well as the seats, stitching and dashboard. Standard equipment on this vehicle will make most people envious. They include a park distance with rear view camera, satellite navigation with 3D view, as well as seat heating and four-zone automatic air-conditioning. The lights at the rear are mounted on the roof, in the middle of the car, but can be tilted and rotated to function perfectly as a spotlight.

On the road, the drive feels smooth as silk, like you’re floating down the road. The 650i features a 4.4 litre engine with a twin turbo. The engine sound is fairly muted, but once sport mode is engaged it does emit a pleasing growl, a hint of the beast lurking below the bonnet, ready for anything you want to throw at it. The eight-speed gearbox is so smooth that you practically only realise the gear has changed by looking at the rev counter.

The car grips the road as if it has claws, which makes attacking bends at speed great fun. The experience is enhanced by the head-up display which shows the speed and other important information directly onto the windscreen, making you feel more like a pilot than a driver.

Overall, I think BMW has created a masterpiece here. The car is the most attractive four-door sports coupé available, and it offers ample luggage room for four people. Along with the absolutely luxurious interior, it all adds up to the ultimate tourer. ❐

Manufacturer Specifications:
Engine: 4.4l 8 Cylinder Twin Turbo
Power: 330KW
Torque: 650Nm
0-100km/h: 4.6 Sec (Claimed)
Fuel Consumption: Average 8.6l/100km
CO2: 199 g/km
Price: From R907 500, 00

Car courtesy of BMW South Africa.

Toyota Auris XR CVT

Toyota’s latest designs remain well in keeping with current design trends. The new Auris is no exception, with a new front end showing a sharply raked bonnet and angular lights, giving the car a somewhat sporty nose.

The model I tested has black inserts and fog lights on the front bumper, reinforcing the look. Its rear end was also refreshed, with horizontal and narrow lights placed on its rather high hip. This makes the car appear sleeker and bigger than it actually is. Inside, the car is typical Toyota with a simple dashboard.

What’s new is the touch screen entertainment system that doubles as the screen for the rear camera that is activated when the vehicle is reversed. The 1.6 litre engine offers sufficient power, but unfortunately the CVT gearbox dissipates its impact.

This gearbox makes the car feel slow and almost painful on flat-out acceleration as the engine revs to its maximum, and just whines there until you lay off the fuel, with a gear change finally reducing the engine noise.

The best way to explain a CVT gearbox is that it is a cone and belt system, rather than the traditional gears and cogs. I have to admit that I was impressed with the looks and build of the car, but I can’t fathom why Toyota would ruin this appealing package with a CVT gearbox. My suggestion is to go for the manual version, which will be a much more fulfilling experience. ❐

Car courtesy of Toyota South Africa.

Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of SAGMJ.