Luxury doesn’t always mean leisurely.
Take the slinky 2019 BMW M850i convertible, for example, a sumptuously chiseled grand tourer seemingly built for casual cruises down sun-dappled boulevards.
Put the top down and let the selfies begin, dudes and dude-ettes.
The genteel Bimmer, though, hides a combustible side that emerges like a pop-up summer storm, blasting you to extra-legal speeds in the time you can utter, “martini, stirred not shaken.”
Why do rich folk get to have all the fun?
Beats me, but as the competition among six-figure vehicles continues to increase, buyers expect 500-horsepower, a supple suspension, loads of high-tech stuff and the ability to putt around or go full Autobahn.
And the 850 essentially delivers – along with a literal ton of luxury.
As your stockbroker may have mentioned, the new 850i xDrive coupe and convertible replace the old 6-series BMW two-door models – and do it with considerably more style and power.
Low, wide and elegantly sinister, the metallic gray 850 I had featured a long hood that slid down onto aggressive twin-kidney BMW grilles in a satin finish.
Glaring, twin-projector headlamps and a slick raked-back windshield gave the car even more high-dollar presence, as did muscular sides carved lightly by well-placed character lines.
Meanwhile, a low-cut black convertible top promised an intimate environment inside, while 20-inch multi-spoke wheels on 245/35 tires up front and 275/30s in back hinted at plenty of drama outside.
Heck, I was almost ready to cash in my 401 (k) and learn to sleep in the 850’s cramped back seat.
Lurking beneath the hood of the 4,600-pound drop-top was a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 with 523-horsepower and 20 mpg fuel economy.
It felt unfazed by the BMW’s considerable heft, spinning hard and effortlessly through an intuitive 8-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive.
Around town, I surfed a wave of silky torque and thrust that could push me to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, according to Car and Driver. Freeway mergers were not a challenge.
The 850 also could be sedate, crawling through neighborhoods with a well-muffled growl.
Probably more surprising was the big convertible’s ability to cut crisply into moderate-speed corners, rotating out of them with all-wheel-drive and minimal body-lean -- like a smaller sports sedan.
Although the steering was modern-numb, it felt quick and precise in sport mode.
As you might expect in a $131,000 high-performance/luxury vehicle, the 850 rode firmly but not with the bounce and harshness that can mark lesser cars.
Of course, that lofty theme dominated the chic, off-white interior in the Bimmer as well -- an area where BMW really shines these days.
A smooth, pliable black upper dashboard, for instance, rolled down onto a white glove compartment and lower dash dominated by a tablet-shaped 10.25-inch touchscreen.
Like way too many high-tech vehicles now, the Bower & Wilkins audio system in the 850 had to be tuned through a dial on the console – a high-tech distraction, in my view.
At least it provided Apple CarPlay compatibility, while the safety systems on board included frontal-collision warning, lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection.
Likewise, the door-panels offered tops in the smooth black plastic with white centers and armrests.
Moreover, in a move that looked seemed a tad impractical, my 850 sported off-white carpet and lower kick panels.
But, hey, they looked great and matched the white seats nicely, which were perforated and had supportive bolsters.
In addition, the black convertible top was so nicely finished and tight that I often forgot I was in a drop-top. It also retracted in 5 to 7 seconds.
While the 850 is equipped with a back seat of sorts, it’s nowhere near as expansive or inviting as the rest of the interior.
My 850 arrived with few options, including the metallic gray paint, $1,950; a driver’s assistance package, $1,700; a comfort seating package, $1,300; and the audio system, $3,400.
As you probably know, six-figure cars can’t really be justified. The 850, for example, is about the same size as the 650 coupe and convertible it replaces, yet costs $20,000 more.
Still, the 850 shines with cachet and style, providing buyers with big checkbooks the sort of distinctive performance and luxury that just might be worth the price.
2019 BMW M850i Convertible
- What I liked most: The 850i’s refined muscle and sleek lines, as well as its considerable capabilities
- What I would change: Not much, but the electric shifter did have an irritating “park” button if I had to quibble
- MSRP: Base price, $121,400; as equipped, $131,395.
- Official color: Dravit Grey Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway and 20 mpg combined with filler on the right.
- Odometer reading when tested: 3,798 miles.
- Spare tire: None – run-flat tires.
- Weight: 4,643 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 191.2 inches long/74.9 inches wide/53 inches tall
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Not applicable.
- 2019 BMW 850i convertible in a few words: A grand tourer so refined and capable it might almost be worth its lofty price.
- Warranty: Four-year, 50,000-mile overall protection.
- Final assembly location: Dingolfing, Germany.
- Manufacturer’s website: www.bmwusa.com
- E-mail me at email@example.com.
- Up next: 2019 BMW X4.