5 things you need to know about the 2017 BMW 6 Series xDrive Cabriolet

Large premium cars like the 2017 BMW 6 Series have fallen victim to SUVs eating into their sales numbers, as luxury-seeking buyers increasingly transfer their affections to tall-riding, cargo-friendly options. Still, there's one area where, with only a single exception, sport-utility vehicles haven't been able to match their automobile equivalents in terms of appeal: convertibles.

The 2017 BMW 6 Series xDrive Cabriolet combines both the all-wheel drive tenacity associated with crossovers and SUVs with the open top freedom that is the exclusive province of convertibles. That it manages to do so in a body style that combines sleek lines, above-average interior room (for those riding up front), and a hefty dose of horsepower is a bonus for anyone seeking an executive car that stands out from the all the sport-utilities at the country club valet stand.

Let's take a quick look at 5 things you need to know about the 2017 BMW 6 Series xDrive Cabriolet.

1. The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet Packs Twin-Turbo Power

All the world is going turbo, but BMW decided to up the stakes with the 650i by giving its range-topping forced-induction engine a full eight cylinders. Increasingly a rarity on a landscape where six and even four-cylinder models vie for turbocharged supremacy, the 4.4-liter mill's 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque are enough to scoot the convertible to 60-mph from a standing start in just a tick over four and a half seconds. It's a very quick car for its size, and with the pedal down the V8 can definitely catch you by surprise.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with the BMW 650i, and the xDrive in its name reflects the presence of an all-wheel drive system – one that has been tuned to divert the majority of engine torque to the rear wheels unless road conditions call for a more traction-friendly split. Keep in mind that AWD doesn't necessarily translate into SUV-levels of winter stability: I found the powerful 6 Series to be skittish on icy roads, and in some cases unwilling to parse the deeper snow of the alley behind my garage when parking for the night.

2. The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet Toes The Line Between Luxury And Sport

All that forward thrust is appreciated in a car that is as heavy as the BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet, because chopping off the roof (with the resultant need for extra under-chassis bracing) and adding all-wheel drive fatten up the 6er's curb weight significantly. This is why it's best to temper corner carving expectations when behind the wheel of the 650i, as the vehicle lends itself much better for relaxed top down cruising than it does full-throttle touge blasts down a mountain. This is not a failing in any sense of the word, but rather a conscious design decision: the 650i Cabriolet serves as a personal luxury car par excellence that counts on the beefy growl of its V8 as part of its personality, not its sole reason for being.

3. The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet Puts Safety Technology Front And Center

The BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet offers a baffling number of options and standard features, which is befitting of its status as the brand's flagship convertible. A great many of these focus on protecting passengers in the event of a collision (including a pop-up roll bar that deploys as soon as the vehicle detects a potential flip) or preventing an accident from occurring in the first place.

In the latter camp you'll find features such as a lane departure and blind spot warning system, as well as the ability for the car to automatically keep itself between the lines on the road. Adaptive cruise control can maintain a steady separation between the 6 Series and traffic ahead and automatically brake the convertible should an impact be deemed imminent. The BMW also enhances driver vision by way of a top-down, 360-degree camera system, and there's also a night vision feature that offers an unfettered view of the road ahead even under pitch black conditions.

4. The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet Is Huge, Except In The Back Seat

As I mentioned earlier when discussing its ponderous mass, the 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet is a plus-size car, and while you might not be completely aware of its tip-to-tail measurements while driving in the same way that you feel its weight, there's no denying that the 6 Series dwarfs most other luxury convertibles on the market. Featuring size that's in the same ballpark as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class cabriolet, but priced closer to the smaller drop-top Porsche 911 (with a starting MSRP of $99,500), the 650i occupies a middle ground amongst its high end peers in terms of size and cost. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that its generous keel allows for adult-friendly rear accommodations: while smaller folk fit just fine in the back seat of the 6 Series convertible, full-size adults might want to avoid riding with the top down unless they've called shotgun.

5. The 2017 BMW 650i xDrive Cabriolet Is But One Of Many 6 Series Choices

BMW is well aware of the softening appeal of big coupes and, to a similar extent, equally large sedans, which is why it has diversified its 6 Series family across as many different market niches as possible. The same platform that underpins the 650i Cabriolet is also in part responsible for the two-door, fixed-roof version of the 6 Series and the four-door 6 Series Gran Coupe, which adopts a sloped roofline in a bid to mimic the sleek appearance of its true-coupe sibling. It's also possible to order the 6 Series in rear-wheel drive trim, or with a 3.0-liter, 315 horsepower six-cylinder turbo calling the shots (in the 640i). As with the rest of the BMW line-up, the 6 Series family is a diverse lot aimed at snagging the attention of as many well-heeled buyers as can be squeeze through dealership doors.