I have been waiting for months to get my hands on the BMW 645 coupe. I've watched its progress in the magazines and newspapers, but I think I only got my hands on it so soon because BMW sent me a letter saying that when I'd been in possession of the 735i, reviewing it for this paper, I'd picked up a speeding ticket. This could have been really embarrassing but luckily I was able to prove through the use of CCTV footage that on the day in question I'd been beaten up by some little schoolchildren and was in the local casualty department with badly bruised knees and painful underwear-induced injuries, so somebody else was driving the Beemer.
While BMW were on the phone sorting out the mistake, I mentioned I'd like to have a go of the 6-Series, and since they felt sorry for me they said OK -- pity is a much underrated bargaining tool.
This is exactly the sort of car that I'm interested in, a big coupe with plenty of poke but room for four. The market for this kind of car is expanding; the Western world is now full of people like me, childless, shallow and with too much money, and no other car communicates this more successfully. There's usually no room for kids (though there is in the BMW), style overwhelms practicality and they cost a hell of a lot!
They also have plenty of poke: Ha! Ha!, those kids are never going to catch me in this. A couple of times I've misjudged throttle pressure slightly and instantly got an shove in the back -- massive power from the 4.4-litre V8 gives prodigious acceleration at any speed.
Yet, according to the Press pack, the car achieves over 25mpg. In the past I have seriously considered buying the Maserati 4200 GT, again a stylish two-door, four-seater coupe, in some ways better-looking than the BMW, but with fuel consumption of 15mpg; you'd spend so much time in the petrol station it would be faster to undertake any long trip in a Daewoo Matiz.
Not so in the 6-Series. BMW claims a range of 650 miles from the 70-litre tank. And, though not quite as sybaritic as the Maserati, the interior is terrific. On the one I was driving the seats, armrests and bits of the doors and console were covered in dark-red leather and contrasted with strips of the Ruthenium pearl gloss metal used to face the dash.
Due to the iDrive system there is an absence of the mass of buttons and knobs that you get in a comparable Mercedes, but you do have the iDrive controller which looks like the top of a posh jar of fish paste. That's your choice --buttons and knobs or fish-paste jar top.
Normally I like to sit quite high in a car but in the 645 I felt most comfortable when I put the seat to its lowest setting so that the car was wrapped around me, bonnet stretched in front. The exterior is less resolved, though from the front the car has an animal-like crouching aspect, but Chris Bangle's trademark boot shutline treatment lends the rear a look very similar to that of the Hyundai Coupe, which costs £40,000 less than the German machine.
On the weekend I took the coupe round to a friend's house to watch the football. When I've got the loan of a motor I usually visit people to gauge others reactions to the car and not because I want to rub their noses in the fact that I'm still a powerful individual who gets free cars. The actor Richard Wilson was there, and at half-time I showed the guys over the BMW.
Richard loved it. Sitting in the driving seat he muttered that it was the car of his dreams and asked if I could be of any help with the waiting list (this year's allocation is already sold out). I replied that there was nothing I could do; I reckon if he wants to get his hands on the 645 coupe ahead of the pack then get worked over by some primary-school kids like I did.