Introduced last year in Canada, BMW's new line of scooters seeks to please those who need to get busy around town but don't want the burden of parking a car. In fact, in Montreal, parking a motorcycle is permitted between vehicles, and it didn't cost us a dime during our ten-day test of the 2013 BMW C600 Sport. That's good.
There are two models to choose from, mechanically similar yet different in design and functionality. The C650GT is the touring variant of the two; it's slightly bigger and heavier, and offers a more comfortable seat for two occupants.
However, our C600 Sport tester boasts a cleaner, more naked style and bears a family resemblance to the brand's touring and sport motorcycles. Ok, it's obvious that it's a scooter, and the rider's seating position instantly gives it away, but the C600 is arguably the sportiest looking scooters on the market.
Power for the urban jungle
Both the C600 Sport and C650GT are equipped with a 647-cc, twin-cylinder engine that develops 60 horsepower and 49 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission, something BMW would never dare install in one of their road vehicles, but that suits a scooter's mission just fine.
Sure, it doesn't accelerate like a supersport crotch rocket, but it performs admirably well; it launches swiftly from a standstill and can be quite a handy tool for zipping through and around the urban jungle. And the 2013 BMW C600 Sport has no trouble following traffic on the highway, or leading it, as the company claims it can reach a flat-out speed of 175 km/h.
On the other hand, what you don't get from this BMW's ownership experience is the typically racy or silky-smooth engine sounds. You can only do so much with two pistons, yet the C600's raucous snarl is pleasing nonetheless. At 550 lbs. fully-fuelled and ready to go, the 2013 BMW C600 Sport isn't a featherweight for a scooter. Despite that, it's pretty agile and easy to ride, even with an extra passenger on board. Oh, and it features standard antilock brakes.
As for fuel consumption, we averaged 5.6 L/100km over the course of the test, which covered both city and highway riding. That may seem unspectacular compared to a subcompact car, but the consumption of a motorcycle fluctuates much less and achieving a low average doesn't require as much eco-driving. Sorry, eco-riding.
The practical side
The 2013 BMW C600 Sport isn't as practical as the C650GT, since it doesn't have the latter's storage cases. On the other hand, it has a manually adjustable windscreen (the GT's is electrically adjustable) and two storage compartments located in the inner fairing panel, big enough to hold sunglasses or a cell phone. One of the two is lockable, but we accidently opened it with little effort while it was locked, so it's best not to leave anything valuable in there. Underneath the seat, there's also room to store two helmets or a backpack.
For extending the riding season, the C600 offers heated handgrips, which is included on many other maxi-scooters on the market. However, the BMW models also feature a heated seat cushion with separate controls for each occupant.
Starting at $10,990, the 2013 BMW C600 Sport certainly doesn't look like a bargain, while the C650GT is even pricier at $11,450. Yet its rivals include the $10,499 Yamaha TMAX, the $11,099 Suzuki Burgman 650 Exec ABS as well as the upcoming 2014 Kymco MyRoad 700i.
In short, you're not paying a lot more, but you get a refined, quick and stylish urban and extra-urban scooter. The BMW badges and the attention you'll be getting are bonuses.