Car reviews - BMW - 6 Series - M6 range
Stunning styling, thundering twin-turbo V8 engine, slick seven-speed transmission, brutal acceleration, overall driving competence deliver by M Division
Room for improvement
Hefty weight, hefty price premium over 650i
8 Nov 2012
FOR a car that reputedly can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in a brutal 4.2 seconds, the BMW M6 feels rather cruisy.
Ambling along the highways and byways of south-east Queensland during the media launch, the M6 felt brisk, comfortable and competent. But it was difficult to escape the feeling that this is a hefty car, weighing the best part of two tonnes in its Convertible form (and about 1900kg in Coupe), despite wide use of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium in its construction.
Steered from public roads and into Lakeside Raceway, north of Brisbane, the grand tourer took off its cloak of respectability and grew fangs.
One serious lap into our stint at the short but demanding Lakeside track, with the 412kW twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 thundering in front of the firewall, the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the M6 became abundantly apparent.
The front straight at Lakeside is not long, but we saw more than 200km/h at times in our burst of about 30 laps split between the M6 Coupe and Cabriolet.
Even though the M6 offers the driver the opportunity to turn off the ESC and traction control in its choice of sports driving modes (which can be personalised and stored just one click of a button away), we were happy to let them stay firmly on.
These electronic nannies were working overtime to control the rush of power and torque through the rear wheels at every turn, and while faster lap times surely could be had without them, the survival instinct is a strong force when driving the fastest BMW ever sold in this country.
Our first track session was in the Convertible (top up for maximum aero effect), and while the dreaded scuttle shake of lesser drop-tops was notably minimal, it was not until with climbed aboard the carbon-fibre-roofed M6 Coupe that we felt the difference in body strength.
While the Coupe remained bank-safe rigid, the Convertible squirmed a bit more in the high-speed corners. Not bad, but there.
The M6 allows the driver to ramp up the sportiness of its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, steering and other functions.
The most noticeable change from the ‘normal’ settings was the ability to hold gears longer and higher, with less reliance on the considerable low-down torque that comes on strong from just 1500rpm in this big V8.
The muted engine note of normal driving – personally, we think it is a bit quiet for a car of such abilities – suddenly turns on a bellowing, race-like quality, and the performance steps up a notch accordingly.
But even amid all this adrenalin-pumping action, we kept asking ourselves how often an M6 driver would really give their car this sort of walloping.
Sure, with its big 400mm disc brakes and M Division-enhanced suspension and engine, it can take it and ask for more.
But the M6 is the archetypal grand tourer, a luxury car with a massive heart, lazy torque and Nike runners. It is loaded with comfort and convenience features – ventilated leather seats, internet, TV and so on – and thus bloated in a way that no pure sports coupe, such as a Porsche 911 Carrera, can ever be.
Thus, it lacks the involvement of such cars and even the BMW M3, which has true sports motoring as its core value.
The suspension is tauter and tighter than the average 6 Series, but in highway driving, it errs on the side of comfort.
The M6 can lift up its skirts and go, but for the most part, it is a glorious, bahn-storming cruiser, looking a million dollars and (costing about a third of that much).
Which raises the question: why would you fork out an extra $60,000 or so for the M version over the other V8-powered 6 Series entrant, the 650i?
Some people just have to have the best, we guess.
As a car to live with every day, the M6 would be no problems at all. The handy boot is way bigger than most two-door cars with sports leanings, helped by the lack of spare wheel (run-flat tyres on most BMWs these days).
The rear seat accommodation is passable for two adults, and even delightful in the Convertible with the soft-top folded away (no folding metal roof here, for weight and packaging reasons).
Ergonomics, controls and build quality are first class all the way. Sporty leather seats – all double stitched – match cooly with the thick leather-bound steering wheel and leather-swathed dash that has ‘carbon-fibre’ inserts.
We particularly like the delivery of the BMW’s sat-nav system, especially with the heads-up display instructions alongside the speedo reading reflected on to the windscreen.
However, whoever decided to wrap the stand-alone sat-nav screen in a rim of silver metallic material did not reckon with Australia’s sunshine and the annoying windscreen reflections we endure here.
All up, the M6 looks demure, but when prodded, the cruiser becomes a bruiser.
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