The 2013 BMW M6 Coupe ($292,500) and Convertible ($308,500) may not wear the badge of a supercar brand, but they certainly offer similar levels of performance.
BMW is not a brand that likes to shout loudly about its achievements, as it tends to go for a more subtle approach of letting its cars do the talking. The BMW M6, though, really needs a megaphone to make its point as it has a lot to say. It’s sporting a highly advanced 4.4-litre V8 engine with two twin-scroll turbochargers, which BMW says makes it the most responsive turbocharged engine ever put into a production car, of any brand.
With a ridiculously huge 412kW of power and 680Nm of torque, the BMW M6 is well and truly in supercar territory. In fact, that’s just 9kW shy of the of yet to be released brand new Aston Martin Vanquish which houses a 6.0-litre V12. Better still, it has 60Nm more torque than the $472,840 Aston.
Performance times are also top notch with a 0-100km/h time of 4.2 seconds for the coupe and an additional 0.1 seconds if you prefer the convertible.
Behind the wheel you’d expect a car as big and substantial as the BMW M6 to be heavy and somewhat cumbersome. Impressively, it’s anything but. BMW’s engineers have applied a sophisticated active M differential system, which allows the M6 to accelerate out of corners with ease.
The system allows the power to be split and moved around very rapidly between the left and right rear wheels. The unique selling point of the active M differential is that it’s linked up to the M6’s stability control system (DSC), helping the car better understand a potential traction loss situation long before a standard diff would jump in. It can transfer power from zero to 100 per cent from one wheel to another.
In normal mode, the M differential can be a little intrusive. Around the windy twisty roads of Mount Nebo and Glorious in Brisbane’s north, we constantly felt the M6’s nanny controls kicking in and stopping power to the rear wheels in what would have been the absolute smallest loss of traction. Being a BMW M, though, the nanny controls can be optimised or even completely switched off.
There are two M buttons on the steering wheel. The first is for when you want a bit of fun but are not willing to go all the way. The second button is pretty much where you want to be if you intend to drive fast and you have some idea of how to do it.
Press the M2 button on the steering wheel and the BMW M6 puts its suspension, engine and gearbox in full sport mode and turns the traction control off. It leaves the DSC still on so while it will let you get a little sideways for fun, it’ll always have your back so the worse that’ll happen is you’ll end up looking like a professional drifter.
A little MDM symbol will pop on in the dash to let you know you’re in M dynamic mode and that you may indeed go sideways if you push too hard. In this mode the M6 is a work of art. A car that makes you remember what it was like to drive before Skynet took over.
Getting to know the twin-turbo V8 and working out the gear ratios in the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission takes a bit of time but once you’re there, you simply feed in the throttle out of corners in the right gear and the M6 will respond every time without fail. Push it too hard and you’ll get a hell of a fright as the back gets loose and the roughly 1900kg of pure BMW mass starts moving in the wrong direction. M2 mode is by no means for the faint hearted.
The best thing about the latest BMW M cars has been their manic-depressive disorder. In one mode they can be as docile as an everyday family car and in another they will bite your head off. There’s also a whole range of modes that fill the in between. What this means is you can indeed own an M6 as a daily and when the time comes you simply take it to a racetrack and drive it like it’s a racecar.
To prove this point BMW brought us to Lakeside Raceway in Brisbane’s north, a racetrack that appears simple but can be brutal. On track, the BMW M6 definitely needs to be in M2 mode. The rear end becomes forgiving and cornering ability feels beyond that of the four-door M5.
Despite the big nose and V8 engine up front, turn-in is precise and BMW’s insistence on weight distribution has resulted in an M6 that feels more like an M3 coupe than a GT on track. To be fair, it’s not the ideal track car, but it’s more than good enough for the occasional racer. Its strong point, apart from the massive power, is the phenomenal brakes.
The M compound brakes (400mm front and 396mm rear) with six piston calipers are standard and if you’re desperate for more stopping power (which, unless you race everyday, you won’t be) BMW plans to offer carbon ceramic brakes as a $20,000-plus option from next year.
The difference in weight between the M6 Coupe and soft-top Convertible is around 130kg and although one would expect the difference to be easily noticeable around corners, it’s actually not that obvious. In fact the convertible feels more planted at times with the additional weight in place.
On the inside the BMW M6 represents the best of what BMW has to offer in an M car. If you ignore the carpet, essentially the entirety of the M6’s interior is covered in leather or carbonfibre. It’s a beautiful expression of technology and design coming together in a car that BMW hopes will act as a halo. Being German, the interior can indeed feel a tad monotone but it definitely fits its purpose.
The large 10.2-inch screen (bigger than a full-size iPad) houses the latest version of iDrive that comes with the best implementation of an in-car satellite navigation system money can currently buy. All the usual Bluetooth connectivity functions are readily accessible and the car’s computer can even connect to your iPhone to surf the web. Best of all is the head-up display, which can look like something out of an F22 Raptor if you’re new to the technology.
The M seats offer both heating and ventilation and are a delight to sit in, there’s also enough room in the rear to comfortable fit two average sized adults without complaint.
The M6 gets all of BMW’s active safety features such as park distance control, cruise control with braking function, a rear-view camera, high beam assistant, lane change warning and lane departure warning, surround view (top and side), and if you really want to impress your friends further, the optional BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition will absolutely do the job.
Overall, the BMW M6 Coupe and Convertible are two of the best cars of their kind. What they lack in brand kudos (compared with supercars asking similar coin) they make up for in drivetrain and in-car technology
BMW Australia expects to sell 30 M6 coupes and convertibles for the rest of 2012 and around 65 for the 2013.
The company says the M6 will compete with the Jaguar XKR-S and buyers of brands such as Aston Martin and even Porsche.