From any angle, the 630i convertible seduced, and I was looking forward to the long journeys I had planned to give it a good test run.
In the usual BMW way, the soft top maintains the smooth line and provides surprisingly good sound insulation, even on the motorway. The roof folds away automatically in about 20 seconds. and an upright retractable glass rear window can double as a wind deflector when the roof is gone. Of course, as with all convertibles, it looks much better with the roof down, but noise levels and hairstyles are compromised.
In the cabin, black leather dash and console complement the pearl leather seats, which, as well as being heated, have so many adjustments it is difficult to see how anyone would find them uncomfortable. Ergonomics are spot on.
For me, the best part about this car was that it is two cars in one. On the one hand it has a super-smooth six-speed automatic, ideal for touring. Then if you push the gear select across, you can engage the six sports ratios. A further button tightens the suspension, engine and gear-box response, and you have unleashed the tiger. Even on the motorway, I found that dropping from sixth to fourth in the sports ratios gave a near-perfect overtaking acceleration.
But the best roads for testing the sports mode are twisting A roads. There is a very slight scuttle shake, but cornering was made easier by a very sharp, positive steering. The whole effect was improved vastly when the top was down and those twin tail pipes singing out.
One part of the car I was curious about was the infamous BMW i-drive computer system. Jeremy Clarkson hated it, but I found it easy to use and to master in a very short period of time. On the second day I had the bluetooth phone system working, successfully used the sat-nav and found Radio 4. My 14-year-old son, not surprisingly, found out how to do everything else in next to no time.
You can guess the downsides to a car like this. The boot space is pitiful and the rear legroom is cramped. The price is high: £50k with the leather seats makes this a serious investment of hard-earned quality framework cash, and depreciation kicks like a mule. A friend of a friend is selling one at one year down £11k; ouch. Personally, I would be scared of yobbos damaging it in our health centre’s car park. So sadly, I’ll pass on it, but if I had more money than sense, then it would be worth serious consideration, especially as my wife loves it too.
Overall I got 25mpg out of my 650 miles, and was sad to see the car go. It has definite presence and stunning looks but I’ll stick to my regular trips to Thruxton for my adrenaline surges. Would it be suitable for a jobbing GP? I did one home visit in it, and it certainly won some envious looks from the paramedics. But if you do buy one, don’t let Patricia Hewitt see you, otherwise we’ll all be facing extra quality points visits.
Dr Dan Rushen is a GP in Farnham, Hampshire