Nonracers seldom get the opportunity to test-race the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi – and that in the new BMW M6. Yet BMW M offered precisely this to its customers at the 2012 M Power Experience event.
Soon after arriving we used the trip from the airport to the hotel to gain some initial impressions of what the scenic drive would be offering us over the coming days. At temperatures exceeding 40 °C during the day and never falling below 30 °C at night, the semi-desert presented a sea of sand dunes like an array of miniature mountains. Three weeks before our arrival, the thermometer had read nearly 10 degrees higher.
After checking in at the Yas Viceroy Hotel, built directly in and over the circuit, we first took the time to relax and get our bearings.
In the evening, we were picked up at the hotel jetty by 600 hp yachts that took us along the coast to Abu Dhabi. After half an hour of skimming over the dark, tranquil sea, we docked at buoys before a platform built directly in the water. The spectacular presentation of the BMW M6 was taking place here.
The British racing pilot Andy Priaulx manoeuvred the car on the platform and was interviewed by Brian Watts, Head of Sales and Marketing at BMW M GmbH. Andy was impressed by the high performance the new BMW M6 could deliver.
In the colours San Marino Blue and Sakhir Orange, the presented models were a dream to behold against the spectacular night lighting.
It didn’t take long for me to become a fan of the BMW M6 Coupé with its contoured carbon roof. Having fallen so suddenly for the look, I could hardly wait for the next day when we could finally test the new BMW M6.
After a night filled with engine noise from arriving planes, the next morning saw us gladly anticipating the engine roar from the BMW M6 Coupés and BMW M6 Convertibles that were waiting for us. At about the crack of dawn, we set off on an hour-long tour to test the vehicles under normal road conditions.
The departure from the hotel was flanked by the local police who cleared the way out of Abu Dhabi – a pleasant experience to be underway with a police escort.
I could hardly believe the ease with which the BMW M6 accelerates, and steers at the same time. A familiar trait of an M car, the steering provides excellent feedback. Adopted from the BMW M5, the seven speed M double clutch transmission shifts up and down as if by telepathy, either manually or in automatic mode.
And a drive across country was just perfect for us to try out and experience every single configuration that we could select in the new BMW M6.
Knowing that we would be taking the circuit that night, we found it only logical to get a feeling for the new BMW M6 until then.
The performance delivered by the BMW M6 made itself felt on a new serpentine leading up the highest mountain in Abu Dhabi, the Jebel Hafeet. There we were doubly rewarded with a gigantic view of the desert and the oasis city of Al Ain.
By early afternoon we had returned to the hotel where we could relax and prepare for the challenge on the Yas Marina Circuit.
The circuit had been booked for us from 8 pm to midnight. In this time we had a good one and a half hours to test the BMW M6 and about forty minutes for the BMW M5. The BMW M3 we could manoeuvre over a special handling course for a further forty minutes.
The BMW M6 responds to the steering with ultra precision. It simply does what it is designed to do, without any undue effort. However, its weight does upset the balance a little, when it understeers in tight corners. The engine is heavenly – delivering power in all situations and accelerating with indescribable force. What I found particularly thrilling was the mechanical grip with which the BMW M6 hugged the track.
It was a real adventure to take a race track at night under artificial lighting. It wasn’t easy to memorise the lay of the land. There were only very few landmarks to be seen at the side of the track.
Passing under the hotel and glimpsing the guests on the terrace watching you, you could virtually feel the thrill of being a racing pilot.
During the taxi rounds, racing pilot and chief BMW Driving Experience instructress Claudia Hürtgen took us around the circuit at a brisk speed. Observing such a professional piloting a vehicle at such speed, you cannot fail to see how playful it all looks – nor the huge difference to your own driving style.
On the last day of the event, we were offered a number of recreational activities to choose from:a trip to the city of Abu Dhabi, a desert tour in the BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M, or jet-skiing in the lagoons facing the hotel. I opted to bask by the pool for a few hours , so I have nothing much to report there.
In a nutshell, I found that the 2012 M Power Experience event was a success – in an intriguing country and on a very appealing circuit.
The BMW is a highly aesthetic M car featuring highly interesting technology. At all events, a must test drive for all “M-thusiasts”.