2013 BMW M6 Coupe Rocky Mountain Review By Dan Poler - WOW!
By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel
M2 is where life gets interesting…
I’ve always had affection for BMW’s. After all, I learned to drive in my dad’s E12 5-series with a 5-speed manual and quarter of a million miles on the clock. So when offered the chance to spend a week with BMW’s new M6 coupe, surely you can understand why I accepted with no hesitation.
2013 brings us an all-new M6, back after a two-year absence. Based upon the F13 6-series released for 2012, the M6 is powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo engine producing a whopping 560 hp and 500 ft-lbs of torque. Purists may lament the loss of the E63 M6’s V10, but I can assuredly say that the new M6 is every bit the high-performance GT without it.
Our loaner came in a color BMW calls Sakhir Orange Metallic. Not many cars can pull off orange paint, but BMW does it with class and style – the color is deep, almost a red in the right light – and works very well on the bulgy, muscular body of the M6; probably also helping to soften the orange-ness is the roof – it’s not body color, as it’s made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic to reduce weight and lower the vehicle’s center of gravity. Interestingly, in the exterior design, one can pick up hints not only of the expected suspects such as the prior-generation 6-series or current-generation 5-series, but also of the Z8, now out of production for almost a decade.
Rounding out the exterior are elegant LED lights all around, and nice BMW-esque touches such as the roundel on the trunk, which flips up to reveal the rear-view camera, and doubles as the trunk release as well. Our vehicle was equipped with M Carbon Ceramic Brakes, not only massive in their appearance, but the blue shoes they wear visible through the spokes of the M light-alloy wheels adds a nice touch.
Inside the cabin, we find seating for four – sort of. Describing the two rear seats as “seats” is probably somewhat generous; perhaps “afterthought” might be more appropriate. When the front seats are positioned for driver and passenger of average height, there will be no legroom left for rear passengers. It is possible to fit four in the cabin, albeit uncomfortably. Assuming, however, you do not have passengers in the back, the front seats are comfortable and 20-way power-adjustable – yes, 20, not to mention BMW’s Active Seat functionality, which includes motors that move the seating surface under your rear end to reduce fatigue on long drives. BMW describes this technology as “imperceptible” and although the sensation it creates is most definitely perceptible – and disconcerting, as the seat moves around beneath you – it does work as intended to reduce fatigue and back strain.
For such an advanced piece of machinery, technology governs all, yet controls are surprisingly logical and well-placed. I particularly appreciated the easy-on-the-eyes instrument cluster, the lower half of which is comprised of color digital displays which adapt for varying functions of the vehicle. Some controls for driving dynamics are placed around the gearshift, while others are accessible through iDrive.
And that brings us to iDrive. BMW’s iDrive system has been maligned over the years, the control system we love to hate. However, in the version 4.2 iDrive system in the M6… It has finally arrived. We found it easy to navigate, very well laid-out, and perhaps most important of all, the interface no longer carries with it the lag that plagued early versions of the system. Responsiveness is top notch, and this lends itself well to navigating through the system. Most impressive of all is integration between iDrive and various performance-related configurations of the M6.
By now, you might think to yourself, enough already, but how does it DRIVE? In a word: Amazing. Like nothing else on the road. It can be a challenge to keep the 560 hp in check during in-town driving but with a little practice the M6 will handle acceptably well in city conditions – given that you have all the performance features dialed back. The ride is always firm – in comfort settings, you’ll never forget that the road is there, but bumps aren’t overly jarring. There are many nice touches of electronic convenience, like a lane departure warning system which vibrates the steering wheel as a warning, automatic high beams that work really, really well, BMW’s Speed Limit Info system which reads roadside speed signs and posts the limit on the instrument panel for your reference, and a collision detection system which works in conjunction with the head-up display to provide warning right in the driver’s view if warranted. These electronic features can, however, lead to a feeling of disconnectedness for the driver, as if piloting a robot and not a high-performance automobile.
Around-town driving is one thing. On your steering wheel, however, you will find two inconspicuous buttons labeled M1 and M2. These are presets which can be configured via iDrive to enable a “macro” of performance functionality all at once. For example, M1 by default turns throttle response, suspension, and steering to “Sport”, changes the shift points of the dual-clutch transmission, and performs other related adjustments.
M2 is where life gets interesting. M2 by default puts us into Sport Plus – the most aggressive settings for throttle response, suspension, steering, and transmission. The normally fairly basic head-up display is adjusted to enable M View, a really handy feature which shows shift points and timing projected right onto the windshield in front of the driver.
The M2 preset in its default settings turns the M6 into a snarling, fiery, beast. The transformation could not be more remarkable – like Dr. Banner becoming the Incredible Hulk. This is not for everyday driving, this is for precision control and handling. With the M6 turned up like this, it will go, and go, and go. The firmness of the suspension will become jarring, but the tradeoff is no lean or body roll. None. Not even a little. With the suspension in Sport Plus, it feels like the M6’s center of gravity is about a foot under the pavement. The M2 preset left us with a fine appreciation also for the M6’s M Carbon Ceramic Brakes, a nearly nine-thousand-dollar option which provide excellent feel and no fade under any conditions.
For all of this power the M6 brings to bear, there must be a trade off, and it comes in handling on anything but dry pavement. Remember, this is a GT and not a corner-carver, and we’re driving in the Mountain West in the middle of Winter. Dry pavement handling is as expected, but given the slightest bit of, say, sand left on the road by crews responding recent snows, the massive Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires will lose their grip, essentially turning the M6 into a 4,255-pound unguided missile. The various traction and stability systems, while not overly intrusive, are absolutely necessary, and I was amazed by how frequently I saw the blinking yellow light telling me that I had angered it. Additionally, despite all of the weight-saving measures engineered into the M6, it is not exactly light on the tires – at that 4,255 lb curb weight, we’ve tested many, many SUV’s that are lighter. Despite this, however, I was able to average 20 MPG in combined city/highway driving during our time with the M6, impressive all the more so given how much time was spent driving the M6 in what we’ll call a, er, spirited fashion.
BMW has come a long way since my days as a teenager in the E12. The M6 is no doubt an amazing vehicle, the product of technological wonder and of the legacy of BMW’s M subsidiary. As a GT, it is best suited to covering long distances at high speeds and in great comfort, perhaps a need that few will ever have to the degree offered by the M6 – but if you find yourself in the position to have the need for such a vehicle and the dollars to spend, I highly recommend you jump at the chance.
2013 BMW M6 Coupe Base Price: $106,100.00 Price as Tested: $123,345.00 Engine Type: 32-valve V-8 with TwinPower Turbo technology, high precision direct injection, 4 overhead camshafts, and Double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing Engine Size: 4.4-liter Horsepower: 560 Torque (lb-ft): 500 Transmission: 7-Speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) with Launch Control (automated manual) Wheelbase / Length (in): 112.2 / 192.8 Curb Weight: 4,255 lb Pounds per HP: 7.6 Fuel Capacity (gal): 21.1 Fuel Requirement: Premium Unleaded Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport; front 265/35ZR20, rear 295/30ZR20 Brakes: M Carbon Ceramic Brakes Suspension, front/rear: Double wishbone / Multi-link Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 14 / 20 / 20 Base Trim Price: $106,100.00
Options and Charges (preproduction model – actual production options and prices may vary)
Silverstone II Merino Leather: $3,500.00 M Carbon Ceramic Brakes: $8,700.00 20” M light alloy wheels: $1,300.00 Head-up Display: $1,300.00 BMW Apps: $250.00 Destination Charge: $895.00 Gas Guzzler Tax: $1,300.00 Price as tested: $123,345.00