Why on earth would you buy a $304,200 (plus on-roads) four-door BMW M6 Gran Coupe when you can get a BMW M4 coupe and a decent X5 for less? The answer is simple actually. Because you can.
Here is a car that oozes understated class. It’s subtle, yet aggressive at the same time. It speaks volumes to those that know what it is and yet blends in amongst the folk for which it’s not intended to impress.
It’s practical, yet sporty, and it’s usable as a daily, but also fun when things get serious. It’s a near perfect blend of two worlds. But, it’s by no means perfect.
Here is the thing, we kind of miss the V10 powered M5 of old, and with this current-generation of M5 and M6, which came out five years ago, the shine is starting to wear off a little bit. But BMW updated the M6 with a mid-life tweak a little while ago and it's time we revisit the V8 monster.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the Competition package is now standard. That brings the power from the 4.4-litre M TwinPower Turbo 8-cylinder petrol engine up to 441kW and 700Nm of torque, an increase of 19kW and 20Nm. It also brings the 0-100km/h time down to a ridiculous 3.9 seconds. We are talking about a car that weighs two tonnes!
There are some visual enhancements and interior changes that came through from 2015 build, but you’ll need to be a BMW enthusiast to really spot or care about them.
For those interested, these include digital radio and tyre pressure monitor on the technology side, with the centre console now in high-gloss black, central display with frameless design as well as black chrome accent lines and new contrast stitching.
Exterior changes include a minor refresh for the front bumper and grille as well as larger and lower air inlets and lower lip spoiler. Other than that, the other changes are applied to the M6 Gran Coupe’s lighting, with adaptive LEDs, LED front fogs and BMW Selective Beam (high beam that doesn’t blind other drivers) now standard.
For our test drive of the M6, we decided to put its best two attributes together and go on a road trip with the family. Two child seats fit perfectly fine in the rear with a ton of room spare. There is no middle seat so comfort is prioritised for those worthy of the second row.
The boot is so large you begin to wonder what could possibly be required to fill it. It’s deep and wide but of course, it’s not shaped like an SUV so bulkier and oddly-shaped items will still not fit since the rear seats aren’t going anywhere for extra space.
The interior of the M6 is very much BMW at its finest. It’s an elegant cabin which, even after five years in market, still looks the business. Our test car’s interior is black over black, which wouldn’t be our pick but even so, the use of high-end materials and the tactile sensation of the surfaces doesn’t disappoint. It can definitely do with more colour, but that’s up to personal choice.
Sure, it’s outdated when compared to the new 5 Series and the folks over at Mercedes have the technological gadgetry game down pat. Ultimately though, this is a Gran Coupe. It’s the type of car you would drive every single day and for that purpose, it’s somewhat brilliant.
The infotainment system is still one of the best in the business with BMW’s iDrive presenting a super simple user interface that, in this writer’s opinion at least, is far more refined than even the latest offerings from Mercedes and Audi. We found the 16-speaker harman/kardon sound system as epic as you’d expect, though possibly lacking a little bass.
Power delivery of the mighty V8 goes through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. It’s a bit old school, this one, for it jerks both at low speed and when going flat out. It doesn’t necessarily suit the character of the M6 Gran Coupe, being a cruiser more than a race car. But it’s rapid firing when push comes to shove and in the wet, with the right foot flat to the floor, the rear has momentary loss of traction on each and every gear change, which is sensational for those that love a car with some character.
In fact, the biggest problem we had with the M6 Gran Coupe was traction. Initially, we excused it for the wet roads, but even when the weather gods blessed us with perfect sunshine, the mighty BMW failed to ever truly get its power down.
The only way one would achieve that claimed 0-100km/h time is on a perfect surface, on brand new tyres and using launch control. Our test car struggled to get going each and every time we asked it to accelerate. The yellow traction control light flashed more than we’ve ever seen in a BMW and when MDM mode was engaged, it just meant smoke from the rear tyres rather than traction.
In saying all that, once you actually get traction to the road, the BMW is an absolute weapon. It makes you feel queasy with how much torque it puts out and how much it slams you back into the seat.
On the move and especially from 60-100km/h, it's frighteningly fast. From 100km/h upwards it's just absurd how quickly it approaches jail-worthy speeds (not that we would know). As for fuel usage? If you have to ask...
The V8 sounds tough, but it doesn't make you tingle in your bones with its roar. It's a rather subdued noise considering its output, pretty much what you'd expect from something with two turbos attached.
Ride comfort is excellent, considering the type of car that it is. It will bounce around on the bumpier stuff but it's by no means uncomfortable.
Dynamically, the M6 Gran Coupe feels its size and weight. It’s a big, big car and going around the Cunningham Gap with some level of enthusiasm emphasised its dimensions. It’s not that it rolls into corners or pitches; it’s just that, well, it’s big and there’s a physical limit on how much speed it will let you carry into a corner.
We did love driving it fast, but it’s not an M4 by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t have the nimble character of its much lighter sibling, but what it lacks around corners, it makes up for in straight-line speed, well, at least as long as it isn’t shredding the rear wheels.
It will understeer as you get closer to the limit, but that limit is still far higher than the majority of owners are ever likely to experience.
Speaking of owners, if you happen to buy a BMW M6 Gran Coupe, you join an elite club of just 62. Seriously. That’s how many M6 GCs have ever been sold in Australia since its launch in 2012. There are more Lamborghini Huracans on Australian roads than these things.
In fact, the M6 Gran Coupe is the most popular M6 model, with the Coupe (12) and Convertible (24) making up significantly less volume.
The point is, this is an extremely exclusive car. Volumes for the mainstream M models such as the M4 are multiple times higher and that is yet again a reason why the M6 appeals to those that it does.
Overall, this is not an everyday BMW. For most, it does in fact make more sense to buy an M4 and an X5 for the same price (or less). But this is a halo car and it is priced as such.
Even so, we believe that despite its $300k-plus asking price – given its age, the imminent arrival of the M5 and recently launched 5 Series – there are some sharp deals to be done here.