Road Test. Near Perfection: The BMW 633 CSi

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

The BMW Company of Munich may bring out an almost bewildering number of new models – you will soon be hearing about the great top-range Series-7 cars – but it retains the basic formula which has elevated BMW to a supreme rank among the World’s best. BMW continue to place their faith in an in-line six-cylinder single-overhead-camshaft engine, in varying capacity sizes, with carburetters of fuel-injection to provide the power they require. They use suspension which permits of very “forgiving” fast cornering, allied to supremely accurate steering. The outward appearance of every model reflects good taste without ostentation, and all the models in the wide range are unmistakably modern BMWs.

There can be few less-ostentatious fast motorcars than the BMW 633 CSi coupe. It tends to attract appreciative looks only from the knowledgeable, the ordinary observer hardly associating this compact, handsome, 8 ft. 7 in.-wheelbase car with a top speed of over 130 m.p.h. in manual-transmission guise, and acceleration in the order of 0-60 m.p.h. in some eight seconds and a standing-start 1/4-mile devoured in less than 15 seconds. Yet such are the capabilities of this top model BMW (until the 7-series), which uses an 89 x 86 mm. (3,210 c.c.) version of the o.h.c. 6-cylinder power unit, with Bosch L Jetronic petrol-injection, to produce no less than 200 (DIN) b.h.p. at a modest 5,500 r.p.m. Suspension is by coil springs, and is all-independent, using MacPherson struts at the front, semi-trailing links at the back. To arrest this very quick but unobtrusive car BMW have gone to ventilated disc brakes front and back, of 11 in. and 10.9 in. diameter respectively, vacuum servo-assisted, the system being ATE.

The body is a two-door, full four-seater coupe, with a luggage-boot which is truly capacious. As expected of a BMW, the interior is quietly appointed, again without a trace of ostentation. Comfort, rather, is the key-note. The present price here of this 633 CSi, which can be regarded as a more civilised edition of the famous lightweight 3.0 CSL coupe, is £14,799 – I may as well get this over with, before describing the car’s near-perfection! This price applies to both the 4-speed manual and the Automatic-transmission version of the 633. For test I had the former, another example of which we have “on the strength”, sucessor to a 3.0 CSi.

I was frustrated at the last moment of testing this fast BMW 633 abroad. But it gave me some very enjoyable motoring in restricted, speed-conscious Britain. I was immediately enamoured by the cloth-cum-leather-upholstered seats, hard in the comfortable BMW fashion, and adjustable for the driver for height and tilt-angle as well as reach and back-rest angle. The windows are electrically controlled, the action somewhat sluggish. If it is necessary to move a window-glass when the ignition-key is not available, this is done by opening a door an excellent arrangement. The three main instruments live in a binnacle before the driver big central speedometer, smaller tachometer, and heat/fuel meter. The clock on the left, angled towards the driver’s sight-line I thought the instruments slightly less easy to read than those on the Editorial 520i BMW. Neat warning-light windows are set above the main instruments and to the right of the facia you have an ingenious warning panel, on which lights come on if the services they cover are in order, at the pressing of a single button. Thus this panel tells of correct oil-level, brake-fluid level, coolant content, screen-washer content, and the brake pads being in order, if each green tell-tale comes on, and if the engine is started and the lights and brakes put on, it also tells if oil-pressure and the stop-lamp and rear-lamp bulbs are functioning properly.

The steering wheel has four horn pushes, there are the usual BMW heater and ventilation controls, in the form of rotatable selectors, illuminated at night, and the electric window switches are down on the central console. All four seats have head-restraints and luxury touches include the provision of a re-chargeable torch in the cubby-hole, a first-aid kit under a lift-up panel on the rear-window shelf, and the expected BMW tool-kit in its compartment on the underside of the boot-lid. The o/s driving mirror adjusts electrically. But the real reason why I describe this 633 CSi BMW as coming near to perfection is the combination it gives of very great performance, comfort, docility, and fine engineering. I liked its modest outward demeanour – apart from the styled “multi-spoke” road wheels; they were shod with Michelin XWX tyres, great 195/70 VR14 radials. I liked its logically arranged, straightforward controls. I especially commend the excellence of BMW power-steering, which imperceptably but most usefully raises its ratio as less lock is used. It is geared 31 turns, lock-to-lock, and is among the finest of its kind, by ZF, with a 14.7 in.-diameter steering wheel.

In spite of the very impressive speed and acceleration, this BMW is the personification of docility, the engine pulling smoothly from very low r.p.m. Yet it can be safely extended beyond the peak rev. limit when maximum performance is called for, when it is as smooth as a turbine and about as quiet. It starts and idles impeccably, hot or cold. And it gave me an overall fuel consumption of 21.3 m.p.g. (The tank holds just less than 15 1/2 gallons.) And BMWs never seem to use any oil.

Here I want to digress to remark that BMW steering not only functions so well but is as long-wearing. The manual steering on the aforesaid 520i shows no free-play at a mileage of over 54,000, in spite of the heavy loads imposed on it when parking the car so heavy that, after driving other cars, I have started to move off in the BMW and have been convinced, erroneously, that a front tyre has gone flat. The accuracy, too, is just as good as when this L-registered vehicle was new. It is this combination of steering accuracy and forgiving cornering that makes any BMW so pleasant to drive quickly, whether a 633 or a 320. These qualities are pronounced in the 633, although the suspension, attempting to give good road-clinging without discomfort, has a curious floating feel over some surfaces, while being quite harsh over unmade roads. Maybe this is why Tom Walkinshaw, 530i driver in the Saloon Car Championship races, has specified modified suspension on the recently-announced “limited-edition” 633 CSi (price £21,300), as well as engine and other modifications. I think I might prefer this.

The brakes, of course, function very effectively but there is an unusual item to the hand brake, which works on inner drums on the rear discs the car rolls a few inches after applying the brakes; unimportant, but disconcerting when first experienced. Another small idiosyncrasy was that so good is the door-sealing of the Karmann body that you either have to slam the doors heavily to get them to close, or have to first open a window as on my 1955 VW Beetle. Cool-air ventilation wasn’t 100%.The car I drove had the Getrag four-speed manual gearbox. If anything, it is even better than those in other BMW’s, the gears seeming to feed themselves into mesh at the bidding of the stubby central lever.

The clutch is rather decisive in action. Revised rear suspension and a limited-slip differential aid adhesion when using the 633 hard in the lower gears. In fact, the only real irritation about this excellent near-perfect BMW that I can recall was the graunching of the wiper blades I have suffered this on the old 520i, inspite of BMW servicing, so I assume it is attributable to the kind of wiper-blades the Germans fit. It would take more than that to mar the pleasure to be derived from using this splendid BMW 633, in which I enjoyed nearly 700 very restful, mostly rapid, miles. – W.B.

You may also like

Related products