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 2004 Luxury Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

BMW 645Ci Luxury Coupe
2004 BMW 645Ci Luxury Coupe

Help! There's a green-eyed monster ogling my car. (Well, isn't that part of the reason I got it?) Actually, plenty of green-eyed monsters (AKA jealous looks) seem to follow BMW's classy 645Ci as it cruises about.

No surprise here. This revival of BMW's previously abandoned 6 Series, new for '04, is subtle, yet eye catching. It's a smooth, luxurious package of sensuous exterior styling, eye-popping interior leather contrasts touched by the look of light-toned burled wood, and the famous hands-on delivery of pure confidence that goes is synonymous with this German nameplate.

Call it class with sass, with just about every high-tech safety feature and simplified interior amenity one could possibly want. They feed off a rather sensible, mostly one button navigation system that's always easy to read under a deep set "eyebrow." Warnings don't ding at you; they chime. Subtleties such as backlighted name on the doorplate, full color sensor warnings, and a broad scope moon roof keep pampering at a high level. Either CD or DVD sound surrounds one with richness, clarity and depth.

The same hunky 325 horsepower V-8 that resides in the 5 and 7 Series models powers the 645Ci. And since BMW is renowned as a driver's car, it's no surprise this version comes with an aggressive six-speed manual, STEPTRONIC automatic, and a clutchless performance drive combo operated by steering wheel paddles, which BMW refers to as the Sequential Manual Gearbox, or SMG.

The smooth-as-silk engine's Valvetronic technology helps deliver a healthy boost of torque in every gear (for peel-away starts and more). You can't miss the distinctive, resonant exhaust pouring from chrome duals. BMW has tuned it to respond to engine and gear action to kick out a gutsy, throaty, yet smoothly rich tone that practically yells "drive." Put it in sport mode, and it screams.

Huge wheels (19-inch as tested) own the road. You carve around corners with taut, yet responsive steering.

For one willing to live in the $70 K range, we guess that it's easy seeing green.

Acura RL Luxury SedanJaguar XJ Long Wheelbase
BMW 645 CiLexus LS 430
Cadillac STSLincoln Town Car
Chrysler 300CMercedes-Benz S-Class
Infiniti Q45Volkswagen Phaeton