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Brand New BMW M6

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Karl Peskett | Nov 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

2013 BMW M6 REVIEW

What’s Hot: Great style, brilliant drivetrain and dynamics.
What’s Not: Tiny back seats, slightly disconnected feel.
X-Factor: A genuine GT - that’s easily good enough for the racetrack.

Vehicle Style: V8, twin-turbo, two-door coupe/convertible
Price: $292,500 (coupe), $308,500 (convertible) plus on-roads
Fuel Economy claimed: 10.3L/100km | tested: 16.5L/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Finally, it looks good.

Yes, the previous BMW 6 Series wasn’t what you’d call eye-candy. But the latest 6er (the F12/13) is superbly penned and proportioned.

In M6 guise it’s particularly attractive. Front to back, it looks ‘the business’... and sounds it. When the M6 clears its throat through its chrome quad-tipped M-Spec exhaust, the neighbourhood knows about it.

But making an M6 is more than just whacking a stonking engine into the 6 Series and fiddling with the suspension.

The roof is now carbon-fibre, the fenders are plastic, and doors and bonnet are aluminium. Shedding mass high up lowers the M6’s centre of gravity.

But does the package work? BMW put us on a plane to Abu Dhabi to demonstrate the M6’s abilities, both on road and on track. Here’s how it rates.

 

INTERIOR

Quality: The 6 Series is an excellent base to work from, with impressive cabin materials and soft leather seats and trimmings.

The swooping centre console flows beautifully from the dash, right through the middle of the car, but it’s wide, so it occupies a lot of space.

With sumptuous contrasted leather and stitching, the M6 is a classy place to be.

Comfort: Let’s start with the bad: the back seats are not worth the leather they’re trimmed in.

No adult can fit (headroom and kneeroom are absent), and kids up to the age of seven have to be in a booster (which also won’t fit). That leaves a narrow margin - kids from eight to 12-years-old - who can conceivably be accommodated there.

Now, onto the good: the front seats are among the best and most comfortable you’ll find. The range of movement (including width) is so comprehensive that anyone, of any shape, will find the perfect driving position.

With outside temperatures in the UAE sitting consistently in the mid-40s, the climate control had its work cut out, but even in the fabric-roofed Convertible, it provided cool comfort.

Equipment: Like other M-cars, the M6 is well stocked. On the steering wheel are two fully-customisable M buttons (M1 and M2) that allow you to change the character of suspension, ESC, gear changes and steering weighting, though having to press it twice (first to select, second to confirm) is a bit tedious.

Start/stop, electric park brake, radar-based cruise control, reverse, surround and top-view cameras, parking sensors, dual-zone climate, adaptive LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, soft-close doors – it’s all there.

You also get a full colour head-up display (HUD) and a huge 9.2-inch navigation screen which also projects turn-by-turn info onto the HUD. The iDrive is also voice controlled.

Storage: There are two cupholders at the front of the centre console, a small coin holder and under the split armrest is a deep but slightly restricted space (due to the phone cradle fitted).

Boot space in the Coupe is an impressive 460 litres, while the Convertible grows from 300 litres to 350 litres when the roof is put up.

 

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: The drive route BMW picked was a cracker. First, a hundred kilometres of arrow-straight highway interspersed with large roundabouts to break up the monotony. The thing is, at the UAE’s 140km/h limit, we weren’t bored in the slightest.

Putting the wonderful dual-clutch gearbox (M-DCT) to use, the highway runs allowed us to explore the M6’s twin-turbo V8, with its ballistic 420kW and tarmac-shredding 680Nm.

The M6 has 550Nm from just after idle (1000rpm) which climbs to max torque just 500rpm after that. Even left in sixth or seventh gear the M6 shows just how easy an overtaking manoeuvre can be; a gentle flex of the right foot is all it needs.

Running in a mixed convoy of Coupes and Convertibles, we decided to see how much difference the 130kg between the two models would make. In the interests of good journalism, you understand.

A rolling drag race along Abu Dhabi’s open roads proved that there is no difference between the Coupe and Convertible in acceleration.

But the entertainment didn’t finish there.

Jabel Hafeet is the best-known mountain in the UAE with a ribbon-shaped road leading up to the peak. In our hands for the ascent was the M6 Convertible, so we were prepared to be left behind by the lighter Coupes. But that wasn’t to be the case.

The handling of both Coupe and Convertible is identical, with the extra weight no penalty at all.

The steering is ‘alive’, with good weight from lock to lock, and a decent amount of feel, but short of the 1 M Coupe’s superb tactile feel. Put that down to electric intervention.

When put in the sharpest of its four modes (EcoPro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus), the M6’s ability to handle weight transfer up the mountain is staggeringly good. The 6 Series has a good chassis, but the M6 takes it to a whole other level.

At speed, the M6 shrinks around the driver - the chassis and steering has limits far higher than is decent for any vehicle of 1980kg heft. The more challenging the road, the more the M6 has to give – it’s simply epic.

Then there’s that three-mode M-DCT. The changes are seamless and while it’s not quite PDK-quick on the downshifts, it’s a very good unit.

The Coupe will blast from 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds and the Convertible one tenth after that. Yes, the M6 is properly quick, and if you’re careful putting the power down, a track weapon.

Our time in the evening was spent putting the M6 through its paces at the Yas Marina F1 circuit.

The M6’s lateral stability is such that its grip limits on the faster corners are almost unreachable. At lower speeds you can slide it around, but pick up the pace and it sticks and goes.

Downsides? Well, it’s not quite as involving as the last M6 - steering feel, though good, has lost something.

Refinement: The engine can be quiet or not so quiet, depending on drive mode and throttle position. But it’s King Island Double Cream in its smoothness, with fantastic gearchanges.

The cabin though is serenely free of unwanted intrusions from the road or wind, even at speed in both Coupe and Convertible, with superb NVH damping.

Suspension: BMW has created its own language for the suspension.

Up front there’s a “double track control arm with M-specific elastokinematics, small, negative steering roll radius, and anti-dive”, while the rear features “integral-V multi-arm axle with M-specific elastokinematics, spatial suspension with anti-squat and anti-dive”.

Bavarian lingo aside, the M6’s ride is extremely impressive, no matter the surface. At the softest setting it’s not ‘too floaty’, and on the firmest, not too hard.

Helping things here were the test car’s 19-inch wheels. Standard on Australian delivered vehicles are 20-inch wheels (we’ll have to drive it on local roads to make a call on ride quality).

Braking: Standard equipment for the M6 is BMW's M Compound stoppers (you’ll be thankful for that). The front discs are massive 400mm rotors clamped by six-piston callipers, while the backs are no less impressive at 396mm.

Pedal feel is brilliant, when hot or cold, and the lack of fade on track is truly appreciated, especially when braking consistently from over 200km/h to around 60km, lap after lap.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: Not yet tested, here or overseas.

Safety features: The M6 includes front and side airbags, side curtain head airbags for both rows of seats (Coupe), and front airbags and head-thorax side airbags integrated into the seat frames (Convertible). The soft-top model gets pop-up aluminium roll-over bars.

Both models come with three-point inertial-reel seat belts on all seats, belt force limiters and belt tensioners for the front seats and ISOFIX child-seat attachments in the rear.

And, of course, there’s the suite of acronyms: ABS, EBD, EBA, CBC (cornering brake control) and DSC including traction control.

 

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres

Service costs: All servicing is included for the warranty period, meaning three years of hassle free motoring

 

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

Maserati GranTurismo ($288,800) – A fantastic looking Italian mistress, the GT doesn’t quite measure up to the M6’s refinement. Ride, gearbox, suspension – the M6 beats it on all counts (see Maserati reviews)

Jaguar XKR ($238,500) – The Jag is certainly cheaper and sounds better, but the gearbox is slow and it’s nowhere near as capable on track. Unless you stump up for the $340K XKR-S (see Jaguar reviews)

Aston Martin V8 Vantage S ($268,100) – The Aston is by far the prettiest coupe, and sounds insane, but that gearbox can grate on your nerves and it’s a lot smaller. The M6 won’t break your back either – it’s far more comfortable (see Aston Martin reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The new M6 is superbly capable on both road and track. And, in most places you care to look, it’s easily good enough to see off its most logical competitors.

Thing is though, it’s got a problem with its stablemate. While the M6 is a truly superb car, you’d have to be mad to go past the M5.

Not only does it have 95 percent of the M6’s on track dynamics (we tested them back to back at Yas Marina), it has back seats that full-size adults can use, plus two extra doors.

Then, there’s the price difference - $62,500 in favour of the M5.

Of course, there’s always the exclusivity factor; only 25 M6 Coupes and 11 Convertibles will be hitting our shores this year.

It’s most easily justified as a convertible. It has all the dynamics of the Coupe, but the bonus of open-air motoring that only a drop-top can provide.

Or, just save your dosh and enjoy the all-round brilliance of the BMW M5.

Either way, your neighbours will be livid.

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