2013 BMW M6 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: High-performance luxury sports car
Price: $292,500 (plus on-roads), $293,500 (as tested)
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.9 l/100km | tested: 19.0 l/100km
But what about practicality, comfort, driveability? Does the M6 have a purpose and a personality, or is it just about impressive numbers on a spec sheet?
We spent a week under its carbon fibre roof to investigate whether the M6 can justify its near-$300k pricetag. The answer is yes. And no. Read on...
Quality: Carbon fibre, aluminium and acres of double-stitched black leather cover the M6’s interior, and although the black-on-black colour scheme of our test car was a little sombre, there is absolutely no doubt about the quality of materials and construction.
After all, prospective M6 buyers are accustomed to the finer things in life. The M6 is most definitely one of those things.
Comfort: When you’ve got heated and ventilated 18-way adjustable electric seats, a power-adjustable steering column and soft, supple leather, it’s impossible to be uncomfortable in the M6.
As long as you’re the driver.
Naturally, those cramped rear seats are strictly for kids (or adults with freakishly short necks), but what’s surprising is how claustrophobic the front passenger seat feels.
The sweeping line of the asymmetrical centre-stack intrudes into the passenger’s right knee room, and with the high waistline you feel hemmed-in - and not in a cosseting, comfortable way.
For a car with such a sizable footprint, it’s astounding how little interior space there is inside an M6.
Equipment: It’s the best that BMW has to offer, so naturally there’s plenty of cutting-edge gear in the M6 as standard.
Things like a dual-mode head up display, illuminated door sill kickplates, 3D sat nav, soft-close doors, an internet browser, digital TV tuner, bi-LED headlamps and a surround-view camera system are all there, and all standard.
That’s in addition to the usual luxuries like keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth phone and audio integration, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, auto on-headlamps with auto high beam, a trip computer and parking sensors.
The standard equipment list is so extensive, that the only optional feature of our test car was a $1000 electrically retractable rear sunblind.
There are other options available too, like a $4500 night vision system, $1800 active front seats and a $14,000 Bang and Olufsen premium stereo system (for serious audiophiles, we presume). However the only option that we felt should be standard was the digital radio tuner ($950).
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.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The M6 is powered by the same 412kW twin-turbocharged 4.4 litre V8 as its four-door stablemate the M5, as well as the same seven-speed twin-clutch automatic.
And boy, what a combination that is. From virtually any point in the rev range, there’s an abundance of power.
Response is outstanding for a turbocharged engine; its twin-chargers and the V8’s 4.4 litres of displacement working in perfect concert to reduce throttle lag to barely-perceptible levels.
Power peaks at 6000rpm, and there’s 680Nm of torque between 1500 and 5750rpm. The result is that the M6 has no shortage of tyre-frying grunt and while that’s certainly a blessing for a performance car, in the context of driveability, it’s also a bit of a curse.
Give the throttle just a little too much of a prod off the line, and the traction control instantly intervenes to cut wheelspin. It’s a similar story through tight corners too.
The best workaround is to engage the M6’s MDM setting. It stands for “M Dynamic Mode”, and it slackens the chain on the stability control and allows a certain degree of wheel slip.
MDM is the comfortable middle-ground between the snooze-fest of full stability control intervention and the white-knuckle madness that results from turning off all the electronic aids. Want to drive fast but also want to stay out of the weeds? Better thumb that MDM button.
The transmission is easily one of the best dual-clutch gearboxes we’ve experienced.
In its more relaxed modes (you get to choose from three settings), it slurs gears together smoothly like a conventional hydraulic automatic.
But tighten the reins by selecting the sportiest shift mode, and gearchanges are instant, perfectly rev-matched and often quite brutal when accelerating under full throttle.
Refinement: You might not expect it of a sports car like the M6, but for all its on-road muscle there's no sacrifice to refinement.
Ease up on the accelerator and keep the transmission in its more relaxed shift mode, and the M6’s powertrain takes on a softer, smoother edge that belies its performance.
Engine noise is quite muted at low RPM, although there’s always a muffled V8 growl emanating from beyond the firewall to remind you of the car’s potential.
Get into the upper reaches of the rev range and the sound becomes much louder and hard-edged. From within the cabin though, the engine note is a little flat and artificial. Of course, that’s easily fixed: just roll down the windows.
Suspension: Tipping the scales at just under two tonnes with this (not very heavy) scribe aboard, the M6 somehow manages to conceal its bulk rather well.
The steering responds quickly and the nose tips into corners with impressive agility, but just like the M5 there’s quite a disconnect between what’s happening under the front wheels and what gets transmitted to the driver’s fingertips.
But haul on that wheel and the M6 faithfully goes wherever you point it.
Even when under power, the active differential shuffles power to the outside wheel to improve turn-in and cornering grip is phenomenal from the M6’s 20-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
The looser calibration of the M Dynamic Mode also allows for a slight tail-out attitude should you trod on the accelerator a bit too aggressively, but you still get the benefit of an electronic safety net should you make a hash of it.
Ride quality is brittle when the chassis is in Sport or Sport+ mode, and only fractionally less so when in Comfort mode. Still, as a sports car one could say that the M6’s sharp ride is fitting for its purpose.
Braking: The M6’s gargantuan two-piece crossdrilled rotors measure 400mm at the front and 396mm at the rear, and are gripped by six-piston calipers at the front and a two-piston sliding caliper at the rear.
While in normal use the stopping force they generate is massive (despite the M6's portliness), we found they became hot quickly on a rapid run through the hilly twists and turns behind the Yarra Valley.
ANCAP rating: Not rated
Safety features: Multi-mode switchable stability control, switchable traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, blind spot monitor and lane departure warning system are all standard on the M6.
Front occupants are protected by pre-tensioning seatbelts and anti-whiplash headrests, while six airbags (front, front side and full-length curtain) are standard in the M6 Coupe.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres. Paintwork is warranted for three years, and body panels for up to 12 years against corrosion.
Service costs: BMW does not set servicing intervals for the M6. Servicing costs vary according to vehicle usage.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
With a chassis balance that’s more neutral than the V10, it can also be the more satisfying car to drive, and it offers a level of outright performance that’s beyond what the M6 can muster despite its power and torque deficit
But, a tiny boot and no rear seats means the M6 is a far more liveable machine. (see R8 reviews)
Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG ($381,500) - A 5.5 litre twin-turbo V8 supplies the SL 63 with 395kW and an astonishing 800Nm of torque, and as a result the car is a tyre-frying monster.
But at nearly $90k more than the BMW, it’s a machine that won’t make much sense to those who shop on value (but perhaps not as relevant a consideration in the ultra-luxury sports car segment). (see SL reviews)
Jaguar XKR-S ($299,000) - Just like the M6, the Jag XKR-S is a grand tourer on steroids. Its supercharged 5.0 litre V8 also produces similar power (405kW) and identical torque (680Nm), so grunt is definitely not in short supply.
It’s a bit of a beast though; and while it loses on chassis balance it wins on engine acoustics - the XKR-S sounds absolutely glorious at full noise. (see XK reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s difficult to not be impressed with the big and bold M6. On the road it’s faster and more agile that you’d ever expect a 1850kg RWD grand tourer to be, and its performance is simply stunning.
But for some reason we didn’t warm to it in the same way that we did the M5 - even though both cars share most of their mechanicals.
And perhaps that’s why.
When you can get a similar experience from a car that retails for $60k less, it’s hard to see any sense in going for the M6. Especially when the M5 has more space, is more comfortable and infinitely more practical.
Yes, the M6 gets to triple-digits one tenth of a second faster than the M5 (4.2 seconds vs 4.3 seconds), but how relevant is that metric to the average M5 or M6 buyer, really?
No, you buy the M6 because you want the the most opulent sports car BMW can offer you, not some over-engined super sedan. It costs some serious coin, but then again the M6 is one serious car.
The rational cortex of my brain tells me the M6 makes no sense and that I should forget about it, but the lobes responsible for desire and excitement are already planning a bank heist...
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