BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

Featured Posts, Test Drives | August 24th, 2012 by 45
2013-bmw-6-coupe-review49

When was the last time you saw an M6 on the street?  Unless your neighbor owns one or you have one in your driveway, it’s …

When was the last time you saw an M6 on the street?  Unless your neighbor owns one or you have one in your driveway, it’s likely been some time – if you’ve ever seen one.  The M6 is not a sports car for everyone.  Its price and mission isolate most potential buyers, rendering it an exclusive sports car for those who drink 12 year and up.

It all started back in 1983.  BMW launched a new M car based on the 6 Series, as a premium model within the stable.  A proper grand tourer, it was comfortable and spacious on long trips while 50:50 balance and gobs of power gave it sports car moves, almost.  Almost, because the 6 Series has never been lithe, light and focused.  It’s always been a mixed bag of leather, tech, comfort and sport: a compromise.  An ideal compromise for most, mind you, if you can open your wallet and have enough left for your mortgage and fuel, which it drinks a lot of.

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

After a 15 year hiatus, the 6 Series came back in E63, E64 form.  Both of these cars impressed with their vicious F1 inspired V10 engines, while providing a similar level of comfort and luxury to the original E24 model M6.  Another 3 year hiatus has passed, and once again BMW have launched an M6 model to sit at the top of the M family.

“From outside of the car the noise is loud and glorious”

The new 6 Series upon which the new F12 M6 is based is a brilliant car.  It is a car that hides its size and weight better than nearly any other car on the market.  Of course, it’s missing that zing, that special touch and focused aggression that M enthusiasts long for.  If you fancy a track day every few weeks, you’ll want something with a wild side.  Meet the 6 Series’ alter-ego brother; the angry one who throws things and tends to talk too loud.

It’s no secret that BMWs are softening.  That’s not necessarily to say that they are less dynamically competent – they’re not, in fact every model currently in production is quicker than its predecessor.  But with each new generation, BMWs are less intimate.  They whisper less in your ear, tingle your fingertips less on the wheel, and grab your backside a little less.  Flying into Monterey, I wasn’t sure what to expect of BMW’s latest M car.  Does it connect you intimately to the road, or isolate you from it in the name of comfort or perhaps efficiency?  We drove the new M6 to find out.

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

To the Hills.

BMW invited us to test the M6’s metal around the challenging and storied Laguna Seca circuit after enjoying a drive along California back roads at leisure.  Knowing the brilliance of BMW’s M5, I was certainly optimistic.

My optimism was vindicated not long after pressing the dashboard mounted ‘Start’ button.  The M6 clears its throat when woken up, grumbling and rumbling until it settles into a harmonic hum at idle.  From outside of the car the noise is loud and glorious, audible enough to turn heads within a 50 foot radius.  From inside the car, the exhaust note is muted just enough so as not to be annoying over longer trips, quiet enough to allow for relaxed conversation at speed.  The exhaust system seems louder than that of the M5.

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

 

Out of the parking lot I programmed the M6 to its most relaxed settings; my first goal was to measure this car’s daily-driving competence.  With the ZF sourced 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) left in automatic mode, the M6 smoothly rolls forward at parking lot speeds, slipping the clutch a good measure.  This may waste more clutch pad than a human left foot, but the resulting engine noise and silky smooth modulation is in no way a bad thing.  If you’re attempting to sneak away from the house for midnight blasts you’d be better off waiting for the truly stealth i8.

Those who are unlikely to use the DCT’s manual mode will be satisfied with its automated performance.  The only thing differentiating this transmission in automatic mode from a true slush-box is engine revs and subsequent noise at low speeds.  The DCT achieves superior fuel milage, as a benefit over a competitive automatic.  Speaking of fuel mileage, if driven with restraint the M6 will return EPA figures of 20 and 14 city and highway, respectively.

“Less experienced drivers will appreciate MDM mode during track days…”

There are four parameters that can be tuned for comfort or sport.  The steering feel and weight, suspension damping, engine and transmission aggression, and finally the traction control can all be adjusted independently to your mood and the road or track you’re driving on.

We’ve established that the transmission and engine combo are up to par with the highest standards of daily driving comfort and ease, but what of the suspension?  The M6 rewards with a supple, smooth drive over rough roads, only translating the larger bumps and undulations into the chassis.  With its shorter wheelbase and lighter weight, the M6 is less comfortable than the M5 over similarly rough roads, but still delivers excellent levels of damping.

The hydraulic steering assist in the M6 delivers plenty of information to your fingertips, if a bit muted in comfort mode.  The steering tends to give you greater amounts of info the harder you push, allowing you to the find the limit quickly and safely.  We’d still prefer a little more raw, gritty steering feel from the tires to our hands as found in previous renditions of the M6.

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

Traction control is flawless, I wouldn’t change a thing.  When left in full nanny mode, you simply can’t put a tire wrong, no matter how clumsily you attempt to unleash all 500 lb-ft of torque.  Those with a hankering for spirited drives will appreciate M dynamic mode (MDM) which allows for a good amount of wheel-spin and yaw before taking the reigns.  You cannot drift the car in MDM mode, but you can manage mild slides before system intervention, enough to put a smile on your face.  Less experienced drivers will appreciate MDM mode during track days, particularly wet track days, as 500 ft-lbs is a lot to manage.

Without a doubt, California offers some of the best driving roads in the country.  I soon found myself carving a narrow strip of asphalt, ascending up a mountainside.  Even with comfort settings in use, the M6 feels agile and balanced.  Turn in is clean and immediate, corner exits brisk, pulling strongly. You can’t take the ‘M’ out of this M6.

I encourage automotive extremism.  The middle settings ring of mediocrity: not too comfortable, not too sporty.  Throw everything into sport plus and be amazed.  The M6 exhibits one of the most drastic personality changes in the industry.  Its sporty comfort is transformed into sport – full stop.

Now growling and edgy, the chassis begs to be pressed and pushed while the engine searches for revs and the transmission shifts with aggression.  Like its four-door sibling, the M5, this car will get you in trouble with the local PD.  The programmable speed warning chime (goes “Bing!” once you’ve reached a pre-set speed) is a close friend who’s advice should be embraced at all times.

“You can’t take the ‘M’ out of this M6.”

After you’ve gotten your jollies from the M button, you can press “M2″ and throw the comfort presets back into the system.  Why not turn up the incredible Bang and Olufsen sound system?  This sound system is one of the best I’ve ever experienced in a road car, it has crisp highs and tight, clean lows: the commensurate high fidelity sound system.

Luxurious, yet sporty.

While relaxing in the cabin you’ll also appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the interior.  When you’re frequently surrounded by a gold standard, it can be hard to recognize the standard as gold.  I’ve always appreciated the functionality and form-follows-function design of BMW interiors since the company’s inception.  But after driving a V12 Vantage and spending some time sitting in the new Vanquish – I have a new appreciation for BMW’s interior quality.  Aston Martin claim that second to Rolls-Royce, no car has as much hand-assembly involved in the production process.  I would never have guessed.  The Aston’s seats, dash and doors are beautifully crafted, but the center control column is made of plastics that look cheap and feel cheaper – barely a step above a base model GM car.  When you press the buttons, they click like a child’s toy instead of offering up a positive feeling of engagement at your finger tips.  They’re also a forensic officer’s dream as every finger laid upon the dash leaves a perfect fingerprint behind.

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

Not so in the BMW.  At roughly 1/3 the price, the M6 presents a gorgeous interior, flowing with rich layers of leathers, metals and high quality plastics.  When you press a button it says, “thank you Mr. Molnar” instead of offering up a cheap “Click.”

And what of the ‘special quotient’?  This car feels amply special, from start button to steering wheel.  Unlike the Aston which left me thinking the price-tag is steep, the M6 rewards in so many ways it leaves you with a feeling of value – not that its price tag is any more accessible for it.

As it typical of most 2+2s, the M6 offers a tight fit for adult rear passengers, though far more spacious than competitors from Porsche, Aston Martin and others.  Driver and front passenger room, however, is ample; the car feels large without feeling bulky.  Storage room is also vast, with a large rear trunk swallowing up suitcases, groceries and golf bags with ease.

“…the M6 presents a gorgeous interior…”

At $106,995 USD the M6 find itself in the company of very stiff competition from the likes of the Porsche 911, Aston Martin Vantage, Mercedes SL, Audi R8 and if you stretch your imagination a little further, a few others.

Is the M6 a worthy competitor to the above cars on your wish list?  Only a track test can tell: standby for BMWBLOG’s M6 racetrack review from Laguna Seca.

BMWBLOG Road Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

  • David Charles

    Awesome car and great review!

    Thanks guys, was anxiously waiting to see posts from all the U.S. car magazines.

  • http://twitter.com/135Misha Misha Nikolich

    Enjoyed the read Shawn. There’s no doubt this is well crafted and styled machine worthy of the most discerning customers. Looking forward to track review.

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  • http://twitter.com/z3n0mal4 Seiz

    That first picture just made it as my new desktop background :D

  • Justin

    Great review Shawn!

    And man, I wish I was driving that car also, you guys are soooo lucky!!!

    Are the ceramic brakes worth it?

    • Shawn

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the brakes are absolutely worth it – I was amazed by their bite and fade-free performance. Coming into this test I expected them to be a bit of a gimmick, just a way to increase profit margin – but after driving them on track, I can honestly say I wouldn’t buy the M6 without them. Of course, if you don’t see track time in your future, they are ultimately a waste of money.

      S

  • Giom

    Excellent article, great photos. Just love this car. Amaizing how most journos can miss the special-ness of this car…

  • Auto Fan

    I think that performance-wise the M6 will be easily beaten by all the competitors, since BMW lost their know-how in making genuine sport cars. And we see that tendency in all line-ups. A bright example:
    A6 easily beats the 5 Series,
    A4 easily beats the new 3 Series,
    A8 easily beats the 7 Series,
    A7 easily beats the 6 series Gran Coupe, etc.
    So now BMW isn’t the best at anything, and that’s why Audi nearly overtook BMW in sales and soon will dethrone BMW.

    • http://twitter.com/artemlebid Artem

      I would never choose an Audi over a BMW. Mercedes maybe yes but not Audi.

      • Auto Fan

        If you choose Mercedes over BMW, you should choose Audi for sure, because Audi is the best of the 3 German premium brands, ignorant child.

        • Jay

          Go post on a Audi forum. Nobody here really cares what u think!!!!

        • BMW BEST

          Now that is the joke.

        • Mpower

          By Audi you mean an over priced VW which looks ugly.
          if VW owns audi how can it be a premium brand(on its own).Its just VW’s bitch!

        • http://twitter.com/artemlebid Artem

          BMW or Mercedes, depending on the model. Never Audi

          • http://twitter.com/artemlebid Artem

            My choices according to class. M3, E63 AMG, M6 and M6 Gran Coupe, S-Class, G-class, X5, GL, SL. As you can see it’s a list of both makes. Some have direct competition some don’t. There is just something about BMW and Mercedes that Audi does not have. A lot actually.

          • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

            It’s true. But they are catching up in some areas and apparently the RS7 is a great car.

    • Daniel

      So which Audi you think it will be faster than the M6? Cause I don’t see anything near that.

      • Auto Fan

        Audi R8, kid…and much faster, making the M6 look like a truck.

        • BMW BEST

          So?How about the BMW-powered Mclaren F1?Which make your R8 looks like not even moving.

    • JRobUSC

      “A6 easily beats the 5 Series” — not in the European comparisons. And not in sales. The current 5-Series outsells the new A6 worldwide (and massively in the U.S.)

      “A4 easily beats the new 3 Series” — uh, not anywhere. Not even sure where to go with that one.

      “A8 easily beats the 7 Series” — A8 was three years newer. BMW just refreshed the 7-Series, let’s see what happens. And again, the 7-Series easily outsells the A8.

      “A7 easily beats the 6 series Gran Coupe” — these are both low volume cars that are priced $20k+ apart. They’re not even really competitors. The 6GC is a Panamera competitor. Except it’s actually attractive.

      • Auto Fan

        Sales figures aren’t the only factor of deciding which car is better, child.

        • http://twitter.com/GiangcK Truong Giang

          That’s the only factor that counts. After all, these cars are made to be sold, not to show off like the Veyron.

    • http://www.facebook.com/je3lam Jeffrey Lam

      this is by far the funniest joke i’ve seen this year

      • Auto Fan

        Joke is your bmw, idiot.

  • http://twitter.com/artemlebid Artem

    Very good article. I like how you pointed out the interior quality. This car is way more special than an Aston. The only car I would choose over this would be the Porsche 911 Carrera S. If possible why not have both. :)

    • Dieter

      Agreed! I wouldn’t choose the Aston Martin either over the M6. This car just screams sex on wheels and on track :)

  • JAMES

    nice one Shawn!

  • Miguel

    Love the review, well done and informative.

    I would love to see the M6 against an AMG product….

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  • Mr. BMW

    The F12/F13 M is indeed a premium brand for the M-Performance enthusiast and potentials looking to get into their first M at the top-end. The demographics for this premium M brand are the ‘New Money” youth (30s and early 40s). Of course this can and will extend to previous owners of various ages but I am not in total support of your opinion that, “Its price and mission isolate most potential buyers, rendering it an exclusive sports car for those who drink 12 year and up.”

    “Almost, because the 6 Series has never been lithe, light and focused.” If you’ve never owned one, I can see why you would say something like this… And ‘Focused’? Focused on what? Oh, and a compromise… The 6 series of yesteryears and today has never been a compromise but an answer for the consumer who wanted more out of their BMWs, than their 3 series or 5 series. Not a compromise.

    The E24 in the late 70′s and the E63/E64 in early 2000 (I’ve owned), was met with great skepticism; mostly from E24 enthusiasts but after spending time with them and participating in the yearly E24 Sharkfest, the E63/E64 was accepted back in the fold as the Next Generation 6 Series. (Still no compromise). Hehe.

    Now enters the F13/F13!! Awesome, as you noted a few times. Oh, and the only real hiatus was the gap between the E24 and the E63/E64. The break between the previous model and the current was primarily due to the seven year life cycle for each model that BMW has been running for years now.

    You state, “Of course, it’s missing that zing, that special touch and focused aggression that M enthusiasts long for.” Please share with me what the M enthusiasts long for… Before I answer it from a M Owner perspective, I would love to understand where you are going with that statement.

    I can go on and on about your article but I will leave it here. I am glad you wrote about your experience with the new M6. I am glad you had a good experience with the M6 and was invited to drive it. I am also pleased that you provided an alternative view based on your driving experience.

    Mr. BMW

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