Opposite Lock: BMW’s M6 – Can we call it a Supercar?

BMW M6, Featured Posts | February 14th, 2012 by 40

In BMW’s official press release they state that the M6 has “true super-car performance.” Once again, we find ourselves debating the definition of a supercar. …

In BMW’s official press release they state that the M6 has “true super-car performance.” Once again, we find ourselves debating the definition of a supercar. For decades we’ve longed for a successor to the M1. Has it been hatched in the guise of a 6 series? Can a non-bespoke M car be qualified as a super-car? Opposite Lock digs deep to find out.

Much like the terms “high tech” or “in style,” the term “super-car” calls for standards that continuously change through time. What was high-tech or in style in the 1980s or 1990’s is no longer so, and similarly what was super-car fast two or three decades ago is no longer special, or “super.” Conversely, the emotion that this term evokes is frozen in time. Thus, a super-car must both press the envelope of what is possible dynamically, while also capturing romance and aura that stirs the heart.

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Sound like a design challenge? It most certainly is, and sports car makers Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and others consistently pump out full-blown super-cars generation after generation. Consider a few recent supercars from the three aforementioned brands.

Released in 2006, the now slightly dated Ferrari 599 packs a 6.0 liter 65 degree V12 that produces a very healthy 611 horsepower and 448 lb-ft of torque. The engine revs to 8,400 rpm and sounds like angels having sex. The engine is in fact borrowed from the highly lethal Enzo flagship.

Like the M6, the 599 is a front-mid engine, rear-wheel drive sports car with subtle visible aerodynamic work. Of course, the Ferrari sports vastly superior aero, with extensive underbody work jetting airflow out from the rear diffuser, sucking the car to the road. The M6 lacks in the aero department relative to this (or any modern) Ferrari.

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The factory claims a 3.7 second 0-60, however Road and Track managed a 3.2 second 0-60 time. The car weighs 3,721 lbs, an impressive figure for a car of this size, packing a V12. The car reaches terminal velocity at “over 330 km/h (205 mph).” Equally as important is the way this car makes you feel while exploring these performance figures, and while I’ve yet to have the privilege, I imagine thrashing this Ferrari would be otherworldly. It is on my bucket list.

I believe that the Ferrari 599 nicely lines up with the M6 in terms of the car’s intended purpose. It is ultimately a wickedly fast Grand Touring car that is equally at home on the track as it is on the open highway over long durations. The fact the vehicle layout is similar only adds to the weight of the comparison.

Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage also lines up nicely for comparison. It too is a front engine rear-wheel drive sports car of roughly the same dimensions and mission. Its 5.9 liter V12 engine produces 510 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Tipping the scales at 3,750 lbs, it’s also considerably lighter than the M6. The Vantage makes the break to 60 in 4.0 seconds flat and goes on to a top speed of 305 km/h(190 mph).

Of course, the Aston looks exceedingly tempting and makes small hairs erect when you near its vicinity. It has an “it” factor that makes it one of the most tempting sports cars out there, despite its less than shocking performance numbers.

Porsche has long produced a venomous supercar affectionately abbreviated as, “the Turbo.” The 997 911 Turbo is an insanely fast car, and while there is an even faster “S” version that breaks the 3 second barrier on its way to 60 mph, even the ‘Ol run-of-the-mill Turbo turns impressive figures. The Turbo’s 3.8 liter boxer-6 produces 500 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, effortlessly propelling its 3,461 lbs to 60 in 3.2 seconds, and eventually on to a top speed of 310 km/h (193 mph).

Of course, the way in which Porsche goes about building the Turbo is quite different from the layout BMW uses for their M6. But then, the Turbo’s approach is quite different from anyone’s approach. With the engine suspended behind the rear wheels, it is tail heavy, and unlike the other cars mentioned here, it is all-wheel drive.

When it comes to the special-factor, the 911 never fails to excite, although given its decades old familiar shape, it probably falls short of the visual stimulus the Aston or Ferrari present.

So where does the M6 fit in this company? That’s a great question, and one of interest to well-heeled readers on the brink of supercar purchase. Clearly, the M6 is in fast company, and dynamically, it cannot keep up or match the likes of modern supercars from the likes of Ferrari or Porsche. It does however land many blows to the Aston’s ego, with similar if not superior acceleration and top speed. We would love to compare all of these sports cars back to back on a track to split hairs and establish lap times for reference, but given the numbers (including the weight!) it is not difficult to establish a pecking order. The M6 ranks far down the order dynamically.

To be fair, we haven’t driven it yet, and third party magazines have not had a chance to lay down performance numbers. We shouldn’t pass dynamic judgment until both of these things have transpired.

But as the numbers currently sit, it appears the M6 is a venerable supercar if only it were born in the 1990s or early 2000s. The bar has been moved, and the M6 falls short of supercar territory. Remember that there are several supercars currently breaking the 3.0 second barrier to 60 mph, the Porsche 911 Turbo S, Nissan GTR and Buggati Veyron included among them. The M6 will end up close to a second slower – eons in the arena of supercars. Of course, there are many other performance attributes and stats that matter in this comparison, but 0-60 times are a great starter yard-stick. We’re confident that the M6 will break 200 mph if delimited, but how quickly will it get there, and what kind of competitive time will it post at a given racetrack?

And what about that all-important “it” factor? How exotic is the M6 to walk around, to sit in, and to drive? We expect the M6 to feel very special, as indeed did the M5, but is it an exotic by definition? No. It has exotic parts – M parts, but the chassis is a cookie-cutter 6er and unlike the bespoke sports cars in this article mentioned above, the 6 series starts its life as a very regular daily driver (a very nice one mind you).

Speaking of exotic parts, arguably the most exotic part of the M6 is its insane engine. It produces more torque than any of these competitors, and flat across the entire rev range. It’s horsepower figure of 560 is right in the territory – it’s the car’s heft that holds it back. If only the M6 weighed 300 lbs less it could potentially match the weight and performance of the 599.

As far as the overall feel and impression: the jury is out, and we will report back the second we exit the driver’s seat.

Price is seldom a consideration for supercar buyers – it’s a secondary thought – but as it turns out the M6 will be well priced to compete with the Aston and Porsche – the Ferrari is in a completely different price league (and many would argue, a different league altogether).

I expect the M6 to be a super car, but not a supercar when wrestling for a corner with the likes of a Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini – let alone a Koenigsegg, Bugatti or even the homely and lowly priced Nissan GTR. BMW: where’s the M8? I want the 760iL’s 6.0 liter turbo V12 handed over to the M division for extensive work. Place it in the i8, re-engineer the suspension, brakes, chassis, transmission and aero as always, and deliver a worthy successor the the M1. Deliver a supercar.

[poll id=”102″]

40 responses to “Opposite Lock: BMW’s M6 – Can we call it a Supercar?”

  1. StraightSix says:

    Great article.

  2. Mateo says:

    while aston and 599 are made from beginning to be hardcore coupe’s M6 is just coupe/convertible M5. It’s not even close to be supercar. Its simply GT car with big engine, nothing special.

    If they made it from ground up to be competitor to 599:
    new platform
    new high rev NA engine
    3700lbs weight
    awesome but it would be expensive. Problem is, current M6 is way too expensive, even E63 was, but back then when CarbonFiber roof and unique V10 (old M6 was pretty light considering its size) were exclusive, price was alright – today CF is old news and tuned V8 from X6 50i doesn’t make new M6 exclusive or special

    just to make things clear: this M6 is amazing car but in my opinion , too expensive

  3. Giom says:

    BMW is a company of priorities, and a supercar isn’t one of them. For some strange reason, they loose all confidence when thinking supercar. We all know they can build a supercar, the stillborn M8 of the 90s is a good example and they can create a supercar of the M6 and call it the M6 GTR or something like that.

    So, the question is not, ‘can they produce a supercar?’ but rather, why they don’t. Like I mentioned, they have priorities, and being safe seems to be high on that list. But that doesn’t cut it either. If it was being a ‘safe’ company, we wouldn’t have had the X6 or the GT today.

    The need for a supercar is there. Why else would they produce a Z4 GT3 racer to compete with ‘real’ supercars? Why not turn that thing into a street legal car – it would be – and look, like a real supercar. Exotic compared to the SLS!

    If someone from BMW can PLEASE answere us!

  4. fruneed says:

    I think we dont know the answer yet,  time will tell…in the future if this M6 is able to compite with real supercars like this ones that appears here like Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage, The 997 911 Turbo, Ferrari, etc etc… …a conditional must be 0-100 km/h or 0-62mph  under 4 seconds (with launch control) this fact is essential to be a real supercar, among other things, I would have liked this M6 easily reach the 330 km / h…I hope We hope this M6 will be a real super car because BMW deserve this…..we will see…

  5. Ricky Calo says:

    This new M6 is a masterpiece but unfortunately it cannot hold a candle to a Ferrari 599. It’s more of a boulevard/autobahn luxury cruiser. The 599 is too but its also a track car. Still both are nice and are aimed at slighted different customers.

  6. fruneed says:

    I didnt vote because I dont know…but I hope this M6 will be a supercar..

  7. Damonewatson says:

    While it has the specs of a supercar… it doesnt share the same “it” factor of one (although very beautiful). Its presence is more along the lines of Audi’s S5 and not a Ferrari.

  8. BMW The Best says:

    It’s just ridiculous to put the M6 close to Ferraris or Porsches. I’ve always said that the only problem with the BMW badge is that they don’t (or can’t?) produce a true supercar like Nissan GTR for instance. And that’s a very serious problem. For instance we always boast about BMW cars saying that they’re better than Mercedes, but when Mercedes fans proudly state that there’s no BMW that can even come close to the SLS AMG, we bend our heads down in despair because they’re absolutely right. So it’s something BMW should address.

    • Mateo says:

      SLS amg is amazing because its amazing
      GT-R is AMAZING because its cheaper than anything!!!!!!
      but we need to keep in mind this:
      Nissan builds random cars and they share technology with Renault to keep costs down
      Mercedes is owned by Daimler who has money
      Audi is subsidiary of VAG which has MONEY

      BMW is on his own, bmw has money but not much, remember, bmw almost became subsidiary because of cars like BMW 507 (if i remember right), bmw needs cars which will bring them money

      • Trillionblaze says:

        then  why do they make  a car like the M6 & sell it so costly,  when it’s obvious that it is  not a supercar

  9. John says:

    Its close but no cigar. Had they bumped the power to 575hp and shaved off a litlle more weight then I would say it’s probably a supercar, but they didn’t so I can’t. A M6 CSL would fit the bill.

  10. tasty donuts says:

    Hi Shawn,

    First off, thanks for your contributions to BMWBLOG. It’s a terrific site and I’m an avid reader – I always look forward to checking the RSS feed on my daily commute.

    That said, I have a couple points of disagreement with this article. Firstly, it seems rather silly to debate what is pure marketing fluff from BMW. The M6 is quite clearly NOT a supercar by any widely accepted definition. IMO, any car that invites the question, “could it be a supercar,” clearly does not make the cut on its own terms.

    Secondly, this really bothered me:

    “I want the 760iL’s 6.0 liter turbo V12 handed over to the M division for
    extensive work. Place it in the i8, re-engineer the suspension, brakes,
    chassis, transmission and aero as always, and deliver a worthy
    successor the the M1.”

    I’m not sure if you meant that literally, but it seems to completely miss the point of the i8. It is meant to be the *redefinition* of the supercar for the 21st century. Furthermore, trying to stick a big IC engine into the i8 is like trying to breed a golden retriever to be an attack dog. The genetics are completely wrong.

    Also, this is not directly related to this post, but there is a grammatical issue that has been bugging me for a while (and BMWBLOW is certainly not the only one guilty of this). The possessive form of the pronoun “it” is “its” with no apostrophe – NOT “it’s.” Hugo is the only writer who gets this right! I know it’s very nit picky but BMWBLOG is a quality site produced to much higher journalistic standards than so much of the other tripe on the internets.


    • Horatiu B. says:


      Thanks for the great comment.

      Duly noted on “its” and “it’s”, I’m probably guilty of that sometimes as well.

      I have to agree with you, the i8 is the future of supercars and it will change the game for many automakers.

    • Trillionblaze says:

      thanks for your contribution. 21st century supercar should indeed be like the new i8, but with rear wheel & manageable engine & not the useless battery. Things have become very difficult, its no time to be wasting money on nonsense things called supercar which doesn’t add anything to ones reputation….

      • Horatiu says:

         I took a ride in the i8 about 15 months ago when the car was at 60% power capacity. It felt pretty supercar to me. I’m not taking BMW’s side, but they saw an opportunity here to build something that not many have (only Fisker, Tesla etc..) and move away from the horsepower war. I do know one thing…there will be an M-powered supercar someday…maybe sooner than we think, but not designed like the old M1 or M8.

    • Shawn says:

      Hi tasty donuts,

      Thanks for your comment and generous compliments.

      To your first point, BMW have stated in their press material that the M6 has “super-car performance” – for this reason the consideration of this article is relevant.  Frankly, I happen to agree with you, but this debate is nonetheless important to have.

      To your second point, I’m not sure if you’ve ever driven a supercar before, but the power and performance of a high power sports car is thrilling and special at a level beyond the average sports car.  I believe a supercar by definition must both push the envelope of what is possible dynamically and technologically, and while the i8 impresses technologically, it falls short of super car territory dynamically.  For this reason I would love to see an M derived i8 which showcases both the dynamic and technological abilities of M.  You are flatly wrong about the genetics of the i8 in terms of building it into a supercar.  It sports a carbon fiber tub and aluminum front and rear subframes much like the new McLaren MP4-12C, and its structural rigidity and lightness would allow it to perform in supercar territory if only M equipped it with ample power and appropriate suspension, drivetrain, brakes and aero.  I would call it the “M8” – just a suggestion, and if they found space for the V12 it would be very special and romantic indeed.  

      Thank you for your comment about grammar.  I was an English teacher in a past life (a long time ago) and also taught grammar classes.  I take grammar and spelling very seriously and believe it is important to maintain the professionalism and quality we strive after on our website.  “Its” and “it’s” are often catching me out while I write quickly in the wee hours of the morning but I know the difference in meaning and appreciate you bringing it up.  

      In the future, please continue to point out grammatical errors and spelling errors either here in the comment section, or better yet, directly in my email (so I don’t miss it!) at shawn@bmwblog.com.  Again, I appreciate your comments and readership.



      • tasty donuts says:

        Hi Shawn,

        Thanks for your reply, and apologies if I came across a bit snippy. My father was a literature professor and drove home the rules of grammar day-in, day-out, so I definitely have a grammar snob streak in me for better or worse.  :)

        I still must disagree with your assertion that the i8 could be molded into a traditional “supercar” with a large displacement IC engine. This runs completely contrary to the entire LifeDrive design philosophy. As they explain:


        >> Both models are based on a revolutionary construction concept known as LifeDrive architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell consists of high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). “Both cars have been designed specifically for their respective alternative drive systems. We used the innovative architecture and CFRP to cancel out practically all of the extra weight added by the batteries. For our customers this means superior driving dynamics combined with significantly increased range using electric power,” explains Klaus Draeger, BMW Board member responsible for development. <<

        BMW i's slogan is, in fact, "Born Electric," and they go to great lengths to explain how the entire car is designed around the new powertrains:


        Simply having a carbon fiber tub and aluminum subframes doesn't mean it's a comparable platform to other conventional supercars. That is the whole point of the i series, to break free from the mold of the traditional IC-powered automobile.

        I have no personal experience in supercars so I can't speak to the visceral aspects of what constitutes one, but again, I think the point of the i8 is to redefine the very notion. We can only wait and see how successful they are, but in terms of other more superficial qualifications – exclusivity, exoticism, and certainly price – it makes a strong case.


  11. Melt_david says:


  12. gord says:

    The thing about the M6, is that at the end of the day it is still just a heavily modified 6 series coupe, which isn’t really a supercar. The 599 that was mentioned was designed and conceived as a supercar from the very begining.

    The author makes an interesting point about having an M8 because I think an M8 would be easily to build than an i8 because it has a more conventional powertrain.

  13. Trillionblaze says:

    angels having sex. Please mind your speech, this is public. For me the horsepower is okay, V8 is  okay, speed is okay. difference of 1second; nonsense, just for track test. What about fuel consumption? I’ll still choose My BMW even if you where to dash me those cars

    • Shawn says:


      Thanks for your comment and apology extended if the writing offended.  As an automotive journalist it is always a challenge to express numbers and dynamics in a way that conveys expressive meaning.  Sometimes I may push the envelope creatively and if this offended I do apologize.   

  14. Giom says:

    The ultimate BMW supercar will happen only when the board give M the green light to develop this themselves. This should have happened long ago! But now is as good as any.

  15. bmwm1 says:

    M6 is fast GT…. that’s it. It will never be a supercar, get over it. They don’t even want it to be. Sales numbers, only thing that matters for them. It’s sad but true. 

  16. Mose121 says:

    Absolutely not.  The M6 does not meet any of today’s supercar requirements.  Supercars do not have a rear seat.  Doesn’t matter how useable it is, if it’s there it’s not a super car.  Supercars must have over the top aggressive/exotic looks.  Although the M6 looks good, it’s just not in the same design category.  A sub 4 second 0-60 time is required of today’s supercars.  200 MPH seems to be the benchmark these days, which the M6 falls short on.  Basically the M6 performs well and looks great, but it’s not super car. 

    Does the M6 compare to a Lambo Aventador,  Porsche Carrera GT,  Ferrari Enzo, or a  Bugatti Veyron?  Not even close. 

  17. Alm says:

    the 6 series wheel track is now enlagerd with 8mm from the intro of the new 6 from start of production

  18. Viper says:

    definitely NOT a supercar , but a great coupe fo sho!
    its not enough distanced from a regular car and it doesnt look special…..great power tho 560hp , that will kick ass

  19. Viper says:

    the V12er in 760 could use in a future ‘supercar’ project (in bmw dictionary an unknown term) but more pumped up I guess the M8 or 8 series is still a fantasy in the next 10years..
    yay audi and merc for having exotic cars. thanks.

  20. Fredyschiftan says:

    All those Supercars are so impractical and make no sense on a day to day usage, cant park them in no safe place and cant even use their potential!!   in the real world this M6 is a Super Car it looks great and goes very fast and wont atract all that attention. it is a very practical car and that is Super !!! what more you need ? 

  21. Audipage says:

     A few tweaks in the car to shed some weight and increase the car could make something nearby to supercar. Even some body changes to stick more down to road for risk free handling is a must I guess.

  22. Guest says:

    I think a supercar needs to have that “WOW” factor. For the 599 it’s the noise, aston the looks, turbo S the engineering marvel. While the 6 can reasonably compete (but lose) in all these aspects, I don’t think the M6 has that wow factor yet.

    Agreed – put that nuclear power plant into a light i8 body, and that would something people fight over for.

  23. Rolitto says:

    Nice post. In my opinion as an avid BMW fan, the BMW M6 is not a Supercar but a great Sports car because of its weight and drive train positioning. Having said that, even the Ferrari 599 or Porsche 911 Tubro/Turbo S aren’t Supercars either. 

    In my dictionary, a Supercar is a car which should have the features similar to a Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo, and the likes. That means a mid-to-rear engine with weight not exceeding the 1,400 Kg threshold. Carbon fiber components are also to be considered.

  24. Sihbitdis says:

    I don’t know, is a 911s a supercar?  This doesn’t outperform a 911s so….

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