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David Zax

A View from David Zax

A BMW for Geeks

Very rich geeks.

  • March 14, 2012

“Geek country, and I mean this in the best possible way,” writes Forbes. A number of geeks have been taking a particular new luxury car for a spin–the 2012 BMW 650i–and the consensus appears to be in: If you’re a technophile and have something like 100K to burn, this car’s for you. “[N]ot only is the 2012 650i a design success, it is also a tech success,” chimes in CNET, in a very thorough review.

The 650i strikes a nice balance between being outfitted with gadgets, while not letting them become too distracting. Reviewers say its iDrive display is beautiful–big, and with a high resolution (“close to perfection as I have seen,” writes one reviewer)–and yet is positioned out of the driver’s line of sight, so as not to become a siren luring you to the rocks. The iDrive integrates with your smartphone; if the spirit moves you, you can tweet or post to Facebook while driving. The car is even smart enough to pull data for you to formulate pre-written posts you can send with the press of a button: “It’s 80 degrees out and I’m driving my BMW,” or “I just spoke with John,” and so forth. (I might have to personally unfriend you if you actually used those.)

The Truth About Cars put together a video about the 650i and its gadgets.

Automobile Mag singles out a few favorite James Bondian features of the car. “[T]he array of gadgets on board is fantastic, from the side-view cameras to the blind-spot warning system that subtly vibrates the steering,” writes Jake Holmes. He also liked the car’s night vision system, which can detect heat and so can show the exhaust and grilles of the cars in front of you as a glowing outline. “Call me a dork, but I loved that,” he writes, resuming the theme that geeks, dorks, nerds, and dweebs of all stripes can be especially confident in their 650i purchase. Provided they’re rolling in it, of course: though the baseline price of the car is $83,000, if you want the version that Q would give 007, it’s probably going to run you over $100,000.

Since I’m rarely fleeing foreign spies, my own needs are more humble. Among my own favorite features is the fact that the 650i can “parallel park itself.” My driver’s exam would have been a great deal easier back in high school if only the Washington, DC DMV had given me the option of taking the test on a tech-laden car like the 650i.

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