645 Ci Convertible
dates : 30th May 2004/3rd June 2004
Last week we brought you
Hendrik's impressions of the new BMW 645Ci Coupe, a car that
is likely to be bought for its beauty as well as its lusty,
This week we preview the convertible version of the 645Ci,
which was officially launched in South Africa three weeks ago.
In fact this preview was filmed using a left-hand-drive
version, but the right-hand-drive models are already here.
It is in the styling that the reason for the 645's existence
needs no explanation and that goes double for the convertible
Interestingly enough it is not always easy to create a
good-looking convertible from a closed roof car. Simply
lopping the top off a car can sometimes ruin the proportions.
But with this one, BMW has got it right.
Running your eye over the 645 Convertible’s lines also
serves to clarify the direction in which BMW's styling team
has been going in the past few years.
The past few large volume BMW models, particularly the
7-Series sedan, have come in for a lot of criticism, even from
hard-core BMW devotees.
The master stroke of this Six-Series convertible is that it
manages to integrate many of these themes from the past few
years into a very harmonious whole.
Particularly graceful is the frontal treatment with the hooded
predatorial headlights leading the eye inwards to the clean,
crisp rendition of the traditional BMW twin kidney grille.
Aggression is there too in the sharpness of the lower air
intakes, hinting that this indeed is a car to be taken
The 645 Convertible is no lightweight, weighing in at over 1
600 kg, although for a car this size that is impressively
light. Like the Coupe, the convertible makes use of a front
end, forward of the driving compartment, that is crafted in
And there are many lightweight composite plastic materials
used, including the bootlid.
Yet for a large convertible the car is extremely wieldy on
twisty roads. This is where the Active Steering system comes
into its own.
Active Steering, standard on the 645 Convertible and Coupe
models, effectively makes the steering more direct at low
speeds, such as you would experience in a tight mountain pass.
Less turns are required to turn the steering wheel from lock
to lock, or full right to full left position.
Then as speed rises, the steering ratio is progressively
lowered, so that you have relatively indirect steering at high
motorway speeds. This is to make the car less twitchy at high
speeds, making for a more stable and relaxed experience.
The convertible top is of fabric, BMW feeling that the
complexity of a steel roof was not what its customers wanted
in this car. The fabric top is nevertheless fully automatic in
operation and can also be raised and lowered at speeds up to
20 km/h. Handy in the event of a sudden shower when you were
enjoying the fresh air.
Styling wise, the top is also very attractive, featuring twin
side fins, or strakes, at the rear, much like the Jaguar XJS
steel roof of the 1980s.
From a styling point of view, this balances the roof with the
length of the boot and the stowage area for the top.
Incidentally, the Fabric top uses a very special headlining
technique in the interior making it possibly the quietest
fabric-top convertible ever produced, when the top is in
Another foxy feature of the top is the sliding glass rear
window. This slides up from behind the rear passenger seats
and seals snugly against the fabric top. However, it is
possible to drive with the top in place but the glass
retracted, to provide a bit of fresh air and stale air
The cockpit is a mix of style, luxury and a hint of
aggression. That chunky steering wheel with the large black
centre portion speaks of sporty motoring, and the 645
Convertible is no slouch in this department.
Just as the 330 Convertible is the most solid in its class, so
is this 645i Convertible. With the top down the body remains
as rigid as many steel-roofed cars.
It is also possible to drive the convertible very hard with
very satisfying results. Dynamic Drive suspension, which
controls body roll to a minimum and choice of either 18 inch
or 19 inch alloy wheels with 245 series rubber at the front
and 275s at the rear makes this a heavyweight with a deft
Like the 645Ci Coupe, the 645 Convertible is available only
with a 4,4-litre all-alloy, 32 valve V8 motor. Fitted with
variable valve timing, this V8 recently scooped a fistful of
international awards for engineering excellence, notably as it
has in fact been in production for a few years now.
It is a free-revving unit capable of spinning to 6 500 rpm,
and produces two hundred and forty five kilowatts. Torque is
rated at four hundred and fifty Newton metres.
Like its closed-coupe counterpart, it will break the
six-second barrier in the zero to one hundred kilometres per
hour sprint, and run two hundred and fifty kilometres per hour
in sixth gear.
And like the coupe it comes with three gearbox choices:
manual, paddle shift and automatic, all of them six-speed
BMW isn't looking to flood the market with this car and in
fact just one hundred examples per year are expected to be
imported. But we are sure demand will be much greater than
The BMW 645Ci Convertible costs R736 000 in manual form, R749
000 for the paddle shift or SMG gearbox, and R750 000 for the
Our choice would once again be the automatic for a car of this
It is all about refined, seamless cruising with loads of power
on tap at any time.
For this, the six-speed
automatic version is the perfect choice.
Car Torque is