BMWBLOG First Drive: 2012 BMW M6 Convertible

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The new 2012 BMW M6 Convertible is more than the pinnacle of the M Division’s performance lineup, it’s a performance automobile that impress with every …

The new 2012 BMW M6 Convertible is more than the pinnacle of the M Division’s performance lineup, it’s a performance automobile that impress with every feature and design line. Over the course of two days, the new M6 Convertible showcased its abilities on the curvy and scenic roads near Santa Barbara.

Over 100 miles of scenic and curvy roads, the M6 Convertible impressed us with its perfect synergy between a high-performance vehicle and a stylish grand tourer. The soft top convertible  is fairly heavy at 4,509 pounds, but aided by a future award-winning engine and a unique tuned up chassis, the high-end convertible makes the extra weight and size being fairly irrelevant.

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The magic starts with the S53Tu 4.4 liter V8 TwinPower turbocharged engine employing the M division’s patented manifold that evenly spaces out exhaust pulses. With a peak turbo boost of 21.7 psi, the M-built engine produces 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque that now is delivered in a flat band between 1500 and 5750 rpm. The performance is also possible thanks to twice as large intercoolers compared to the ones found in the X5M/X6M models and of course, the unique Valvetronic. Compared to the highly-acclaimed, now retired, 5.0 liter V10, the new unit found in the M5 and M6 not only has 10 percent more ponies, but it also improves its efficiency by nearly 30 percent, in part thanks to the engine stop-start feature.

All great numbers on paper, but none of the performance and driving thrills of the M6 Convertible would come to life without M’s best chassis to date. Versus a regular 6 Series Convertible, the M6 droptop gets a rigidly mounted rear subframe, an M-specific suspension with Dynamic Damper Control active dampers, and hydraulic-assist for the power steering. The M Drive system lets the owner change the M6 driving performance, including suspension stiffness, steering feedback, double-clutch shifting response and stability control.

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So how fast does it go? Fast enough to make us drive the car like we stole it. On the  twisty roads of Sierra Madre, the M6 makes its dimensions and weight work in its favor. Without hesitation, we switched over to Sport or Sport+ mode, pushed the aggressively setup M1 or M2 buttons, and off we were to conquer the road. The M flagship has not lost its core values and we instantly come to experience great steering feedback, road grip, dynamics and perfect balance, as we fly through corners, both up and downhill. As designed, the Comfort mode is there to calm you down without taking away all the fun. Sport or Sport+ modes increase the throttle response and gave us an adrenaline rush as we flew through corners and imaginary racing lines.

And since we mentioned steering response, we would like to point out the new M steering wheel that brings back a classic look. Long gone is the bulky wheel, now replaced by a sleek unit that remind us of racing cars. The center circle is now connected to three spokes, one of them dressed up in aluminum, a sign of sportiness, if there was any doubt.

The perfect shifting coming from the configurable seven-speed double-clutch transmission (a manual will be offered next year) completes the driving experience and as we approach the driver change moment of our trip, a sadness begins to overwhelm us. The new M6 Convertible is just that much fun to drive.

On roads with plenty of Police patrol units, we decided that being booked is not our agenda for the day, so we obeyed the speed limit ….well, kinda. The folks over at Car and Driver shared with us some of their recent findings during their own private test drive, 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, to 100 mph in just 9.2 and even more impressive, to 130 mph in 15.5 seconds.

Now onto the exhaust note. Yes, it’s not as glorious as the one in the E60 M5, but we believe most of the buyers will find it more than adequate and sufficiently loud with either the top down or up. Sitting on the side of the road and watching the other M6s pass by, made us appreciate the acoustics.

The standard 19″ non-runflat wheels and M compound braking system with 6 piston front calipers and single piston rear calipers, give us the confidence needed in the most unexpected situations.At low speeds, the brakes are a bit touchy and takes time to break them in or getting used to, but they shine the most at full speed and sharp corners.

A first for an M model, the M6 Convertible and Coupe will be available starting in July with carbon-ceramic brake rotors as an option. BMW of North America M Brand Manager Matt Russel says the ceramic brakes resist fade better than the standard brakes while weighing 40 pounds less.

The Gran Tourer spirit comes to life on flat highways. Switching over to Comfort and the M6 Convertible becomes a perfect commuter car, expensive and luxurious, yet eager to conquer the road with a push of a button. Compared to the regular 6 Series Coupe, the Comfort mode remains fairly aggressive.

Our Frozen Grey M6 was one of the most sought test vehicles, partly thanks to its rare factor and the matte paint that perfectly describes the design lines as the artist outlined in his sketches. The character line from front to rear is now accentuated more than ever, while two flowing lines run across the hood towards they end in the front fascia.

One topic we have seen surfacing quite a bit at the event revolved around the old-time comparison between the BMW’s classic and driver oriented interior, and Audi’s futuristic approach. The M6 Convertible does  a superb job combining the two characteristics, with a layer of luxury around them. The now stand-alone iDrive screen, the optional Bang & Olufsen high-end audio system or the full-color M Head-Up Display, are now proof that BMW’s interior design language has taken a turn for the better.

As any other M model, the interior of the M6 Convertible retains the M icons: M footrest and door sills, M Instrument Dashboard, and carbon fiber trim. In a nutshell, a cockpit that makes us crave the track even more.

At $113,995 ($895 destination and handling included), the 2012 BMW M6 Convertible is priced to play in the big league. Despite our love for classic Ms or more recently the 1M, the new M6 Convertible is without a doubt the best M we have driven to date, a perfect combination between motorsport, luxury and style.

If you look past the emotional aspect of non-naturally aspirated engines and the slightly less imposing engine sound, the 2012 M6 Convertible is worth at least a test drive, if not a permanent spot in your garage.

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